Netflix’s latest TV show Iron Fist has received widespread criticism for casting a white actor for its main character. Despite staying true to its comic book origins, critics claim that the role should have gone to an actor of Asian descent. Its actor, Finn Jones, was recently hounded off Twitter for defending the show.
The latest fury about the show comes not from its content but from its advertising. It is being condemned for using two of the most well-known gamers in the fighting video game scene—Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong—to promote a subject currently under the critical gaze of the media.
The two celebrated personalities, who are renowned for their skill in the Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom games, participated in several rounds of virtual combat on gaming streaming service Twitch this week to promote Iron Fist.
The advertisement makes more sense than most tie-in promotions—two Asian players skilled at fighting games showing off their prowess. One of the duo’s most famous matchups has become the stuff of legends in the gaming community.
Due to the criticism surrounding the show, outrage warriors have equally bad things to say about the promotional campaign. The Verge’s Kwame Opam opined that viewers (by which he means himself and other easily offended people) are made to feel “immediately uncomfortable” by having the Chinese-American Wong go up against the Japanese Umehara to “promote a series that falls short in the representation of Asians and Asian-Americans.”
“Intentionally or not, it makes it seem like Netflix is happy to have them support the show, but not cast an Asian-American actor as the series lead,” he writes.
Although most users were more than eager to see the two fighting game rivals compete, Opam’s complaints were echoed in comments on social media, where the show was maligned for having “more people in the ad than the show.”
The promotion is a great opportunity for Asian gamers like Wong and Umehara to make a name for themselves, engaging an audience outside of their usual platform. Social justice ideologues hell-bent on minority representation have no qualms about begrudging the very people they should be supporting. It’s as if they just want something to complain about.