Ding ding ding! We have a winnah! One of the most interesting aspects of this show, especially for a Southern Black man man who has never left the South, is it’s acknowledgement of the broad variety of the black experience. The internet’s “activist” contingent tends towards an urban experience and mien that is dominant in media, but not in reality.
The tacit discussion of “respectability politics” is also tremendous. Because it acknowledges that class divisions and expectations have power, and a lot of “activists” have been bucking the idea, even though it’s something our forefathers have used to prove our humanity in far more hostile times. “Cage” wholeheartedly bucks the trend, presenting the formerly-respectable Cage lost in his current circumstances, Mariah, a pinnacle of respectability having hearts and minds; Cottonmouth, the crook with the respectable veneer; and then you have the pure crooks: Diamondback, Shades, Turk, Zip, Discount Obama.
Those are real people. Minus superpowers and super weapons, I’ve seen them, read about them. Funny, some people say Cage is too black or stereotypical and there are some people, especially “activists” (god I’m showing my age) who say it’s not black enough. They want more tropes. I will never say any tv show is above criticism, but I have to give Cage credit for using a broad black experience.
The black writing team on the show acknowledge that stereotypes come from somewhere, but they give depth to those people, the aren’t just those collections character quirks. Of course some of them, especially the thugs are used for much needed humor.
I also give this show credit for all its female characters, especially Mariah, Claire and the female cops. They all had me on the edge of my seat. Mariah may be the character who had the most impact for me. Her journey is the most stark.
I can rant about this forever. It’s just rare for me to get an entertainment experience where blackness isn’t rooted in an only an urban context and it’s not a Southern period piece. “Cage” the series doesn’t meditate on it. It’s just there. And it’s generating conversation. Some of it irks me, especially the “blacker than thou” crowd, but it’s happening and it’s cool that a comic book show has fomented it.
When I was little, Cage left me cold because I did not identify with him. Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, was my id character: she was Southern, from a family with a Booker T. Washington style social and work ethic and she saved planets with the Avengers. Netflix actually created a Cage I can get behind and that’s impressive.