At this point, which shows haven’t catered to Black Lives Matters in some way? The CW’s Kung Fu re-imagining following a Chinese-American woman returning to her hometown of San Francisco after a journey to China is only the latest to fall prey to the BLM message, even after almost criticizing it.
The May 5 episode “Sanctuary” involves our protagonist Nicky (Olivia Liang) learning about a recent officer-involved shooting of a black teenager in Chinatown. This plot follows the usual beats of insisting the victim was innocent and unarmed (unlike most police shooting victims), claiming this is happening too often (it isn’t), and starting a protest to criticize the racist police (in San Francisco, of all places).
However, the episode does take an interesting turn when it focuses on Nicky’s parents Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) and Jin (Tzi Ma). While they’re upset about the loss of life, they also rightfully point out how businesses around protest areas tend to be targeted by looters. In fact, as they discuss this, their restaurant is vandalized by a “Justice 4 Andre” graffiti tag for no reason. “This isn’t justice,” Mei-Li states. “This is vandalism.”
Man on radio: Black Lives Matter demonstrators will be marching this afternoon in Chinatown to protest the shooting. Authorities expect a large turnout. A spokesperson for—
Jin: It'll be ok. People want justice. They have a right to speak out.
Mei-Li: I didn't mean they don't have a right. I just don't want the street shut down, the customers scared off.
Jin: We'll be fine. I gotta go open. No!
Jin: Mei-li, get back in the kitchen.
Mei-Li: Why would anyone do this to us? We did nothing wrong!
Jin: We'll be fine. I'll scrub it off.
Mei-Li: Jin...This isn't justice. This is vandalism.
Unfortunately, the outrage from that scene ends quickly as Nicky and her brother Ryan (Jon Prasida) get involved with a local protest. They soon house protestors scattered by tear gas in their parents’ restaurant and allow them to wait out the city’s curfew. Things soon take a dark turn when Joseph Harper (Bradley Gibson), a local activist and Ryan’s love interest, is charged with “inciting violence.”
From there, Nicky’s family band together to protect him from the stereotypical evil white cop with a ridiculous "I am Spartacus!" moment.
Officer: I have a warrant for the arrest of Joseph Harper. Please come forward.
Nicky: Arrest me.
Jin: Nicky, what are you doing?
Nicky: Taking his place.
Officer: Cute, miss, but we're here for Mr. Harper. For him. Incitement.
Nicky: I did it. Arrest me. Read me my rights.
Ryan: Arrest me.
Joe: Wait. Thank you, but I cannot let...
Jin: Arrest me.
Mei-Li: Arrest me.
Officer: I put out a call for backup. I can have a police bus here in minutes.
Althea: I tracked the BLMSF hashtag and found this.
Joe on video: We are here for justice. This will be a peaceful protest. We will not allow the press or the police to use violence to distort what we are here for, or who we are here for.
Althea: Time-stamped and everything. Listened to it front to back. Powerful stuff. Pretty sure it won't hold up as incitement, though.
Nicky: Whatever your case was against Joe, I think it's falling apart.
It’s good for them that they could find footage of Joseph trying to deescalate riots or violence. The same cannot be said for most of the rioters at BLM’s “peaceful protests.” A fictional character calling for peace doesn’t suddenly erase months’ worth of real violence. I would think Nicky’s parents of all people should know that.
Sadly, it seems that TV won’t allow any slighting of Black Lives Matter even while acknowledging there is unjust vandalism at BLM protests. Even then there’s people defending the organization and painting every supporter as “mostly peaceful.” The fact that Kung Fu got so close to saying otherwise is the worst sting of them all.