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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Daredevil doesn't have much Hell in the Hell's Kitchen of 2015

In case any of you watched the recent release of Daredevil on Netflix, it was pretty fun.  But there are some historical (and even social) context issues that were bothering myself and another blogger.

Having lived in New York for a time, there are areas similar to the representation of Hell's Kitchen in Daredevil, but not so much Hell’s Kitchen anymore. 1964, when the original comic hit newsstands, was truly a time of upheaval. They were tearing down tenements to make way for a “better” New York. While many New Yorkers love Lincoln Center today, in the 1960s, many people lost their homes.  The neighborhood depicted in the musical West Side Story took place in the tenements of that 'hood.

The areas of NYC that are like this 1960s Hell's Kitchen are much farther north on the Island – Harlem, Inwood, Washington Heights.  It would make more sense to relocate Daredevil to one of these neighborhoods and have his ethnicity reflect this in a more radical update than what we got.  Seriously!  I think that would have been great.  A Puerto Rican Daredevil would have been totally freaking awesome.  We would have the same Catholic guilt, in the form of a Black Latino - the best of both worlds.  First off, he would be totally American because Puerto Rico is a territory of the US.  (For those who didn't know.)  And we would believe that he came from a dirt poor background and was the first in his family to attend college just as much.  Lastly, as much as I liked Daredevil, it was a bit too White Man's Burden.  It stood out to me that all of the main characters (both good and evil) were white.  And that seriously didn't make sense to me in a very ethnically diverse New York.

While the Irish Catholics were historically pretty bad off in Hell’s Kitchen, today it’s practically Disneyland unless you go far, far off the beaten path and close to the docks. I’m glad you wrote about this because it was bothering me, too. I was telling my husband about this as we were watching.

When I say it’s like Disneyland now, I mean it! The Disnification of the Great White Way was obvious in 2003-5 since there were at least 2 Disney musicals around at the time. Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and this has increased since with Newsies, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Hunchback, Mary Poppins, and Tarzan. Other Disney musicals are slated to follow.

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