Luke Cage was a complete mess.
It was so Bad it took me this long to write about it because I could not trim down all the issues into one blog. I’ve given up and this will be a series.
As a preamble, let me explain that Luke Cage was one of my favorites as a kid. His sales weren’t great in his solo series or in PowerMan and Iron Fist, so I had hope that he was too obscure to be ruined by Hollywood. Those hopes faded when my other obscure favorite, the abusive, reclusive, intensely obsessed with science, Ant Man…was played by Paul Rudd. To be fair Rudd played Ant Man II, and the original Ant man was played by a more fitting actor Michael Douglas.
When I first heard Luke Cage was going to be in Jessica Jones, I cringed. See these-
Those are mine. I’ve bought each of them several times, because as a Kid I read them, and most issues of Power Man that I could get my hands, on until they fell apart.
What about the character appealed to 10 year old me, I can’t say for sure. Maybe it was simple escapism, seeing elements you wanted in yourself. He was big and strong and intimidating. It could have been projection, he didn’t interact with most of the other super heroes, he did his own thing. It could have been more pragmatic, as even as a child I questioned why other super heroes worked for free. Police don’t work for free, nor do firemen, solders, doctors, or anyone else who has a talent that helps his fellow man. It could have been because of Misty Knight. Even back when I was 10 and thought girls were icky, I knew Misty Knight was hot. You can have Mary Jane Watson, everyone knows redheads are trouble, but Misty Knight…a Tall, dark skinned, athletic woman with an afro…ole’ 10 year old Doug didn’t mind seeing her in action on bit.
hmmm…she kinda looks like my first wife. Actually…she looks exactly like my first wife. You know what? We’re starting go go down the wrong road here. This isn’t about how much my ten year old self controls all my actions well into adult hood, this is about why Luck cage sucked.
Normally, especially on issues concerning race, I don’t bother to lay out any personal history. Whether you are black, or know a lot of black people, or don’t know any black people, has little bearing on whether or not your opinion/observation has merit. It’s validity should be based on it’s logic, pure and simple. An opinion is either right or wrong.
If you are able to take an opinion on merrit alone, like an adult, feel free to skip the next paragraph. If you are of the opinion that I can’t call a bag of sh*t a bag of sh*t, if it is written about black people unless I am black, then pay attention.
I went to school in a absolute Ghetto where black people were the majority. After that I lived in Chicago, blocks away from an L station. I have been a part of black communities often in my life…I’ve had many important relationships and friendships with black people that had profound influences on me and that I had profound influences on them. The black community has played a big part in my life, and helped make me the man I am. I’ve committed crimes with Black people and prayed with others. I know more than a bit about it. I’m not just a tourist, I’ve been part of it, it’s been part of me. I know the attitudes, the problems, the hopes and fears, the tendencies, the personality, the spirit. I also know about “ashy elbows”, grape soda, having a neighbor who sells kids ice cream cones, stores where cigarettes are sold individually out of a jar, the term “a solid quarter”, knowing that any mother on the block has the authority to slap your face if you get out of line and the bizarre inability to keep your lawn from turning brown.
So…I have all the “street cred” I need to make all the various comments I’m about to make, even thought my last name is Paszkiewicz and I am almost as white as the screen I’m typing into. And all that has been said not to ingratiate myself or that it’s any of your f*cking business, but souly for the purpose of curtailing misguided people who liked that show and will seek to, upon reading my words, try to reassure themselves that it wasn’t a bag of sh*t with “what do you know anyway?!”
I saw Luke cage…thought it was an awful show. Oh well, These things happen, but then…
I saw some yahoo news headline that “people are complaining Luke cage is too black”
Too Black? It’s a headline that’s supposed to make us all wring our hands and lament how unfair it is that the black community can’t even have a superhero.
It made me lament that too, because THE GUY PLAYING LUKE CAGE WAS ABOUT AS “BLACK” AS MITT ROMNEY. Actually, that’s good way to sum up his performance, he was Mitt Romney trapped in a black man’s body.
Mike Colter was about as scary as warm milk, and his disposition was on pare with a barista at a fancy coffee shop who’s trying to impress his boss, and every slang word he used seemed as out of place coming out of his mouth as it would coming out of the mouth of Bill Nye the science guy.
If you never read an issue of Power Man (Luke Cage), and I am assuming the writers of this mess would be included in that category, let me explain that he is mean, has a short temper, and is a bit less polite than a caged Doberman. That is his whole bit. His rough demeanor was what separated his character from the other super heroes. The demeanor of Luke Cage in this “show” was indiscernible from Captain America in the MCU movies. And he is supposed to be SCARY. He’s f*cking SCARY, like the Punisher, or Wolverine. In the universe the MCU exists in, if the Punisher or Logan can into the room looking for you, you’d know you were in trouble whether you knew their secret identities or not. They just seem dangerous. If Luke Cage, as he appears on Netflix, came into a room asking for you, you’d think he was going to try to get you to switch your mobile phone service provider. Seriously…tell me the guy doesn’t have more of an air of the manager at the Iphone store than a vigilante.
NOT LUKE CAGE
Let me take a step back, but I’ve lived through Dolf Lundgren as the Punisher and David Hasselhof as Nick Fury, so I had no real expectations going in. I figured they’d butcher the source material. I figured the plot would be weak, but I had hoped…this time, the character would at least be recognizable, since he doesn’t have a costume anymore and all they needed was a scary black guy with a bad disposition. Luke cage isn’t exactly a complex character in the comics. He’s big, scary, mean and ghetto. That should be the simplest casting call ever. I could give you a list of about 50 rappers who are aspiring to be actors who could have fit the role. Method Man comes to mind, ironically since he had a cameo.
Go ahead and seek out the clip of Method man in Luke cage, and see the contrast between actual scary and ghetto and the soft ass pretty boy they had play Luke Cage. When he gives “props” to the Meth saying “ PLO style was my jam back in the day” I laughed out loud. He delivered that line like someone who had no idea what any of the words he was saying meant, and with the grin of a white suburban teen wearing a NWA hat that his parent got him for X-mas.
And, by the way, back when PLO style came out, your favorite hip hop music was much like your favorite baseball team. It was a regional bias and it was important. Much of the lyrics where about where they are from. Method man was east coast rap. Luke Cage grew up in Georgia, his “jam” would have been something from Outcast or maybe the Goodie Mob. A black guy in Georgia “jamming” to PLO style would have been like someone living in Boston walking around in a Yankees hat.
By the way “PLO style” wasn’t a “jam”. Nobody “jammed” to PLO style. PLO style was the one short obscure track on an album full of “jams’ that wasn’t a “jam”. It was a brief, rough, seemingly free-style rant with violent lyrics and no hook.
Saying you Jammed to PLO style is like saying you “jammed” to whiter shade of pale by Procol Harum.
Oh yeah, this is my jam right here! Let’s jump in my ride a bob our heads to this!
PLO style’s not a “jam”…idiot. AND it was a collaboration, Method only had one or two verses. If you met Stevie Wonder would you tell him how much you liked “We are the world”? No…you wouldn’t because you would A- look like an idiot and B- insult him by pointing out, that out of his whole decades long body of work, the song that jumps to your mind most is one he only play a part in.
Who’s the f*cking moron, you wrote that line?
Here…here is what they called a “jam”
NOW…here are several songs from Method man during that era that are ACTUAL JAMS, that anyone with a brain, who actually heard of Method Man before the casting call might have picked.
OH…and here’s two in particular, that the producers of the show should have been using as the music behind Luke storming the Crypus Attucks building.
Aside from how the melodies and lyrics would have been perfect… would have perfectly set the mood, and the tone, the lyrics dovetail perfectly into the change that is going on in the character at that point AND You are going to have Luke meet Method man in a few episodes…So it would have also been foreshadowing. That’s the kinda things that music lends to a show when it is ACTUALLY HANDLED PROPERLY. These are the kinds of things you keep in mind while adding music to a show…things like IS IT HELPING MOVE THE STORY ALONG WITHOUT JUST BEING SOME WEAK TIP OF THE HAT, HAM FISTED SEMI-NARRATION. the soundtrack should have more value to the overall concept than just wedged in between scenes to pander to the black audience.
That’s all this soundtrack was. The soundtrack that everyone is raving about. I guess the songs and artists they got were…okay. For a superhero show it’s unique, but if this was say… a Spike lee movie, people would have been scratching their heads about the soundtrack “what did any of it have to do with the show”? They just grabbed up a bunch of R&B singers who were looking for work and slapped them into scenes at the night club. I Like Faith Evans as much as the next guy, and I’m glad she’s getting work again, but what the hell does it have to do with the show? That’s the question that kept coming to mind…that and “Is this supposed to be set in 1994?”. The music was there for the sake of pandering. Nothing more.
As opposed to say Daredevil, where the music was used for the soul purpose of setting the mood and pacing. Imagine Daredevil with a bunch of Irish jigs, or a Catholic boys choirs jammed in there for no other reason than they were natives to hell’s kitchen. It’d be absurd.
And as Opposed to what is probably the best use of music in any of the MCU properties- Guardians of the Galaxy. There the music was utilized as well as in any movie. It was out of place as a contrast, while doing the lions share of the mood setting, and the connection to the music and the lead character was a vital and important part of the whole story. Take the music out of Gaurdians and the movie is tragically weakened. Take the music out of Luke Cage and…well I guess you could make an argument the show is weaker because the music gave us a break from Michael Colter, but it wasn’t helping the story move along. It was in most cases a reprieve from the story.
As far as whether or not the show was too “black”, I can only guess they meant the percentage of the cast, because if anyone black had anything to do with the script I will be shocked, and assume their original script was reworked by a screenwriter in De Monies, Iowa. Has anyone involved in the writing even been in a black neighborhood? I can tell you they’ve never been to a black funeral, because that was the most sedate, calm, unemotional funeral crowd I have ever seen, a far cry from the emotional, gut wrenching, grieving you’ll find at funerals in actual black communities.
There was some ham handed commentary like “ not enough daddys around”…whew…that’s deep, that’s some Thomas Sowell level social commentary right there. I had to pause the show and give that some thought.
They had the obligatory discussion on basketball with the obligatory irony of someone liking a bunch of white players. And the obligatory rattling off of black authors that almost certainly where found by googling “black authors” because none of them had much to do with each other besides being black. A parallel conversation would have gone like this’ Oh I love me some Shakespeare” “Shakespeare’s good , that Michael Crichton though…” I mean give me a break already with the pandering. I’m Italian, I don’t need a show where the characters go into conversations about Leonardo DiVinci, while watching a Quentin Tarantino Movie with Henry Mancini playing in the background. Why did the producers of this show think Black people need that? It’s asinine. But I guess rather than vet things out and seeing what would actually make sense for the particular ages and personalities of the characters to be discussing, they just sent some intern from Nebraska out on a google easter egg hunt. It’s really a shame.
I’ll defer this to people who are actually Black…aren’t you getting a little tired of this? I realize it’s slim pickings out there and you kinda have to support what there is, but really….it’s 2016 Don’t you think it’s about time for a better representation than this?
Here’s little tip to you writers out there working on shows about Black people- Black People like and talk about a lot of stuff that often has nothing to do with being black, was not made by someone Black, or performed by someone Black. It was like the Black people in this show lived in some universe where Black people only absorb into their consciousnesses things about other Black people. And I will further point out that a 65 year old Black guy from Harlem will have COMPLETELY DIFFERENT INTERESTS THAN A 30 YEAR OLD BLACK GUY FROM GEORGIA…who will have a completely different set of interests from A TEENAGED BLACK KID FROM HARLEM. I’ve known Black people from all walks of life, men, women, elderly, children, drug dealers, criminals, pastors, business owners…and guess what…they all like different stuff. This had all the earmarks of someone saying ” Okay, we need some banter between them here…what’s something Black people like?”
Okay, so the entire show was some bizarre stereotypical cartoon version of what the black community is like and it screamed of being made by people who’s soul connection the to black community was watching cable TV in the 90’s, seeing barber Shop a couple of times and watching New Jack City once. and Luke Cage was about as mean and ghetto as Mike Pence…that’s the high point. That’s the LEAST of the shows problems.
More next time. Until then…here-