Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Luke Cage: Black Characters, not caricatures

As we have all binged multiple episodes of Luke Cage and seen the ashy and somewhat racist reviews by writers, I was brought back to the reality of how the history of early Luke Cage in comics was so racist and how a so called ally named Quentin Tarantino almost fucked it up for all of us.

Let me first state that I do not care for Quentin Tarintino. I believe he is one of the most overrated writers and filmakers of a generation and his cocaine influenced views of pop culture and obsession with characters saying nigga/nigger is problematic at the least.  The fawning over his "genius" is white privilege at its finest.

Once Luke Cage came out, I am not sure why anyone was asking his opinion anyway, but someone did and he came out with this qoute ( even tho he has not seen the show).

"Well, frankly, to tell you the truth, I might be one of the pains in their asses because I love the way the character was presented so much in the '70s. I'm not really that open to a rethinking on who he was. I just think that first issue, that origin issue … was so good, and it was really Marvel’s attempt to try to do a blacksploitation movie vibe as one of their superhero comics. And I thought they nailed it. Absolutely nailed it. So, just take that Issue 1 and put it in script form and do that."

So much to unpack, but lets start with the Luke Cage origin and setting the show in the 70's blaxploitation era as a good thing.  It was not a good thing.  The racist and prejudice depiction of the characters( including Luke Cage), is troubling if you go back and read the books.  The writing is often uncomfortable and the stereotypes culturally dangerous and racist.  Luke Cage was created, developed and written by white writers who exploited his Blackness and Black culture for their entertainment. Their vision of  Black people, Luke Cage, and the world around Luke was influeneded by their whiteness and their prejudice played out panel to panel. Look at the designs of the characters that Netflix used on the tv show.

Tarrantino(and those who think like him) is the worst because this is how he also sees Black Characters- exploited for their Blackness, and shaped in the hands of a white man to fit their fantasy of the Black experience.  And that is fucked up.  If Tarantino had made that movie, as he alludes to in the article,  it would have destroyed the character of Luke Cage in comics and we would have never gotten the modern version that we see today. Hell its been hard for people not to see him in his yellow, buttefly collar and his mini afro. A movie cementing that verison of the character would have left him in the Stone Age of creativity and would have been considerd the true version of Luke Cage.

Luke Cage on Netflix has given us Black characters who we can relate to on multiple levels, who are complicated with depth of feelings and emotions. In the case of Cotton Mouth and Black Mariah, they are both good and evil with a backstory more disturbing and tragic than any of us could imagine.  They have soul and even tho they may fit into a certain stereotype, they are not defined by it. 

Luke Cage himself has shed the yellow shirt and we see the deeply hurt and conflicted man pushed on by his guilt and tragedy.  But also a person still willing to give us so much to fight for those who he feels have been wronged.  In the hands of white writers, Luke probably would have been turned into a  Magic Negro- out to punish the bad Blacks and make Whites happy with his respectability.  And of course shout out , "jive turkey, sucka, and sweet christmas"!

White wrtiers like Tarrantino see black folks and culture as caricatures - not characters. They don't see the depth or the histroy of the emotion associated with those characters.  They only see the hipness, the jive, and the ghetto( white writers love the ghetto).  And even if the character does make it or stive in the situation, there is always the underlying voice of a white man trying to sound black and give their take on how Black people live, act, and talk.

So thank God Tarantino made Pulp Fiction( a bullshit movie...go ahead an @ me) and did not get his slimy hands on Luke Cage.  We'd still be trying to clean up that mess!

The Producer

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