When Netflix announced its Iron Fist series, some people (not all) hoped that the series would cast an Asian actor as Danny Rand. But what they got instead included the series’ creators sticking to the comic and Finn Jones being cast as Rand, a white guy who masters martial arts and becomes better than his Asian counterparts.
As the series prepares for its premiere, many people have voiced their displeasure with Jones’ casting, but it was Jones who stepped into a conversation about diversity on Twitter, which didn’t go so well for him.
On Sunday, Jones tweeted Rogue One actor Riz Ahmed’s speech about the importance of diversity and representation in movies:
The irony was there. And Jones opened himself up to criticism, the bulk of which came from Asyiqin Haron, creative director for Geeks of Color.
Haron, who has since locked his Twitter account, questioned how Jones could praise representation when he’s playing the role of Rand while knowing that people wanted an Asian actor.
Jones responded in what some probably thought was typical white-guy fashion:
After defending his series and receiving backlash from his tweets, Jones deleted his Twitter account. In a statement to Deadline, Jones explained why he decided to take a short break from social media: “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.”
The “time being” was only a day, and Jones fired up his account again late Monday. He issued a longer statement about his tweets and the series, which premieres March 17:
There is a huge benefit to engage and help shape conversations on social media, especially when it comes to giving a voice to social matters. My original intention was to amplify a speech made by Riz Ahmed at the House of Commons. It was a very articulate and important speech on representation that I wholly agreed with. After posting I was inundated by people accusing me of not being allowed to share his voice based on an assumption that our show is going to play into the problems of racial inequality on screen. 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.I am very proud of the work everyone has done on this series and I’m excited for people to see how we’ve adapted the story. We have gone to great lengths to represent a diverse cast with an intelligent, socially progressive storyline. I hope people can watch the show before making judgments. In times, as divisive as these, we need to stay unified, compassionate and understanding in our differences.
Personally, as a fan of the comic, I can’t really say I expected Netflix to cast an Asian actor as Rand, and it would have made for a totally different storyline. Of course, Jones is going to defend his series, but he may want to realize that representation is more than having Asian actors on the series in a secondary role.
And just in case you want to connect with your chi, Jones has a recommendation: