A debate over whether it’s racist for white actor Finn Jones to play a martial arts character became so furious that the Game of Thrones actor decided to drop off Twitter to avoid further attack.
Jones came under fire for defending his role in Marvel’s Iron Fist, an upcoming TV series on Netflix. He was accused of insensitivity towards Asians for playing a white man proficient in martial arts.
Jones, a straight actor best known for his role as the gay character Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones, is headlining the comic book-based show Iron Fist. Its detractors claim that Jones’ role takes away opportunities for non-white actors.
In Iron Fist, the main character (played by Jones) is the scion of a wealthy family who travels to the Far East and learns martial arts before returning to reclaim his family company—it’s a bit like Batman and Green Arrow. And because he’s a white man who knows martial arts, this has become a point of contention.
Writing on Twitter, Jones said that “it’s important we stay unified and focused. When we are divided and distracted from the real issues, we lose power.”
“We should be celebrating and building bridges between cultures,” he wrote.
The actor told Geeks of Color critic Asyiqin Haron that he shouldn’t make assumptions about Iron Fist before he had a chance to see it. In a now-deleted tweet, Haron said that an Asian Danny Rand would better serve the show.
“Yes, I am for real,” wrote Jones. “Please don’t make assumptions on our show before you have seen it. The characterization of Danny Rand (the main character) may have remained true to its source material but our show incorporates and celebrates actors from all different backgrounds.”
“I will go as far to say that it may be one of the most diverse shows out of the three,” he added, referring to other Marvel shows like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Daredevil. Most of Luke Cage’s cast is black—but aside from Shades, members of other ethnicities only play bit roles on the show.
“I engaged politely, diplomatically and attempted to bridge the divide. I’m currently in the middle of filming and I need to stay focused on bringing to life this character without judgment, so I decided to remove myself from twitter for the time being,” he said.