**This will probably contain some spoilers for the show so beware before continuing on.**
There has been a multitude of great think pieces about the Luke Cage series on Netflix. I didn’t watch it when it first came out for that very reason. All of my Facebook friends were raving about it and all the reviews were great but it could wait. For all of the current events involving people of color, police, “black on black crime”, drugs, violence etc I was exhausted. Because as much as Luke Cage was the hero people of color could definitely use and cheer for, I was burnt out.
But it’s been a few weeks now so while I was with my boyfriend, who had finished the series a few days before me, we popped on Netflix to sit and watch it together. I was hooked from the start. Everything about the whole atmosphere was terribly familiar. I’m not from New York but if you have been to a barbershop in the black community they all have a similar feel. You had the younger boys/men arguing or debating with the older men about present day issues. The generational gap is evident but it’s a good time. Mainly because, for a few of the younger men and boys, this is one of the times they get life lessons from “father-like figures”.
Other touches like the music were also wonderfully done. They featured some newer artists along with some staples in the music community which showed the diversity in our sounds. With New York being the home to a lot of our musical creatives in rap, soul and R&B it was very appropriate. I loved seeing Raphaal Saddiq whose music I loved since Tony Tony Tone. When Method Man popped on screen I lost all my shit as I texted my boyfriend about his free style. Wu Tang is a 90s staple and lives on forever.
Outside of that, I know I’m dreading talking about the actual violence that took place in the show. Cornell AKA Cotton Mouth was ruthless. Watching him beat the dog shit out of the young man who was just in the barber shop a few hours ago was hard to bear. I’m from a city that is considered very dangerous. Every time I go out of town and mention my city references to The Wire pop up immediately. If you guessed my city is Baltimore you would be correct. With that being said, the depiction of the drug business was spot on. It is very cut throat with the physical drug product, guns and money working together in a happy little threesome. The young men and women that get caught up in the drug game don’t know how dangerous until it’s too late. They have no idea that one false move or careless mistake can cause their death as well as their families deaths.
Moving on to the flip side of that, the show chose to show the police side of it with equal vigor. Watching detective Misty Knight go through crime scenes and viewing her emotions though a cops lens was fascinating. There were several times where her case would just fall apart and you as the viewer are trying to figure out how does this keep happening? It’s an interesting parallel to draw considering how most of us have no idea how police work actually works. Showing the corruption that can occur within the police department through Detective Scarf and the jail system was brave of the show to tackle at this juncture. Hopefully it can illustrate to the viewers that certain systems are not above reproach. While there are people who are trying to do the right thing there may be several people who are under your nose and undermining the systems efforts.
Now onto the main character Luke himself. He is a beautiful man. Beautiful like a cup of coffee first thing in the morning before work. (See what I did there?) He is how black men are described to be to the police force. He is who white women and children are told to he careful of. Hide your kids, hide your wives and all that. He represents the epidome of every sterotype about black men period and he is gloriously bullet proof. I saw him in Jessica Jones so watching bullets bounce of him was nothing new. But seeing it again in Luke’s own show and in Luke’s world was powerful. Enough people were getting killed by guns in the show but to see that? The symbolism wasn’t lost on me. During the scene with Method Man, the whole community started buying hoodies with bullet holes in it to show solidarity and help Luke hide out. Watching current events it’s hard not to imagine how being bullet proof could have saved Trayvon Martin, the boy who it was a symbol for.
On to some of the other things. Luke Cage has roots in the Blacksploitation era and I could see the remnants in this outing. Each time he used his powers his theme would play and it reminded me of Shaft. Even Misty reminded me of an updated Pam Grier which I loved. It was epic and awesome. Instead of donning a cape or a long black trench coat, he wore a hoodie and made sure to put on a new one even if it got shot up the fight before. It was poetic and makes sense for the time frame the show is set. Luke is also incredibly well read. In each episode almost you can catch him reading a book from the community. He is imparting history lessons to the people who are shooting at him before he knocks them out. His whole persona would debunk anything that anyone who is not a person of color thinks about people of color. To young black men who watch this show and see their new hero who looks like them reading a book and trying to increase his knowledge will hopefully abolish the sterotype in our own communities too.
I enjoyed a lot about this show and I recommend it for anyone who loved Marvel movies to give it a shot. If you enjoyed Jessica Jones and Daredevil you would not be disappointed. The best thing about all three of these shows is that it shows the humanity of the men and women behind the masks. These heros aren’t traditional and they are flawed. Marvel has a little something for everyone which is probably why viewers have been flocking to each of the series.
Have you seen the show? What do you think about it? Have you watched the other Netflix offerings? Let me know in the comments.
Until Next time,