Luke Thoughts: Optimism
I've been distracted lately. Ya know...cause of the world. But after some reflection I think it's more important then ever to keep the critical eye on the media we consume, especially on the things we like.
Luke Cage is an anomaly in the things I've been consuming and the primary reason is optimism. Optimism is a tough sell for most television shows. The latest releases in the golden age of television are filled with good people struggling for hope and often failing to find it and facing a brutal reality.
LC breaks that mold by doing the first thing right. The world presented is a real one. The Harlem shown is one populated by real people. They face real problems in the way that real people do.
When we meet each character they are beautifully flawed, but none of them are defined by that flaw, nor do we dwell in that aspect in the pursuit of development. But it's their push against these flaws and the circumstances they find themselves in that creates the opportunity for choice.
Luke's primary progression through the story is reminding people and being reminded that there is a better path. Yet the alternate path's presented are never grandiose in their fall. No one is going to change into a super villain or become a new Kingpin. They just need to make it to tomorrow in most cases. That's the optimism that I love in the show. Always forward.
A young woman fully justified in her need for vengeance is turned not through the removal of her weapon but through words spoken. Pop's path to redemption wasn't through acts of vigilantism, but just in offering people the chance to breathe freely in a safe space.
I think most people given Luke's abilities would take a more active role in fighting crime then what Luke does, but the reality of peace in the sense of the real Harlem is far more complicated then just beating the bad guy into submission. In truth, there was a needed balance between the criminal and citizen components of the community. The optimism of the show is that cutting out people of the community even if the earn the label of criminal doesn't work. Removing people from the community only lessons it. Most of Luke's work is trying to convince people that they can use their power for good, and their talents be put toward more necessary ends.
Even the villains face this same choice, they simply fail to make the right choice. They value their own ends over the fate of the community. The ultimate villain of the series is someone from outside, and it's his disregard for any of the structures that both heroes and villains are fighting over that allows for his power over them. They have something to protect and he is willing to burn everything down to get what he wants.
In most of the Marcel shows there's something bigger at and more oblique at stake. The city is in danger. We have to stop this super powered mad man. My girlfriends come back to life and leads an army of ninjas. Luke fights for the soul of Harlem, and that is a fight that's as real as it gets. It's one that the real people of Harlem struggle with today, and something mirrored all over the country. We need more shows that encourage us all to keep moving forward.