arguably the most crucial character on The Flash next to Barry Allen is Iris West-Allen, a reporter and canonical love of the Flash’s life. Yet, when the CW series first hit the air, some “fans” were taken aback by the fact that producers cast a woman of color in the role. (Of course, Zack Snyder did as well, but Iris’s scenes were cut from Justice League.) Tragically, as is all too common, people started to harass the actress cast in the role on social media. Well, a new CW social media comment policy is seen as a win for Candice Patton, who has been vocal about the harassment she endured.
Patton received genuinely horrible comments from so-called “fans” angry that a woman of color was cast in this role. In 2018, someone wrote that “100 years ago, I’d have gotten and sold you’re (sic) silly ass.” Patton only responded to right the racist’s grammar, substituting “you’re” with the right “your.” When talking about an alleged hate crime, a person replied “should’ve been your character in season 3.” On the official show articles across social media, Patton is frequently the target of genuinely horrible dangers and insults. Yet, until now, the companies she works for have been silent.
Of course, not all the feedback was racist and negative. A huge number of fans swiftly latched on to Patton’s portrayal of Iris. As the actor pointed out in an interview with PopSugar, “in years to come, people will remember Iris West as being African American.” She also took to Twitter to thank the fans that support her back in 2015.
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“I love how lots of people tell me how amazing my fans are. You people are a force to be reckoned with. thank you for always supporting.”
What the new CW social media comment policy indicates for Candice Patton and other CW Actors
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After six years of next-to-no action to complaints made by Candice Patton, the new CW social media comment policy is a good first step. However, it’s clear that they still have a lot of work to do to address the problems faced by its actors of color. Patton recognized that the CW features diverse casts, but she also noted that they could do even more. Not only by committing to diversity in front of the cam but by committing to diversity behind the camera, in writers’ rooms, and in executive boardrooms.
Hopefully, this conversation is (at least) ongoing with the CW, Warner Bros., and their employees. Still, the certain social media comment policy CW just announced address the most basic of the problems raised by Candice Patton over the years.
The CW tweeted:
“The CW appreciates and welcomes enthusiastic and thoughtful commentary about our shows. We are committed to making our social pages a safe place for our fans and talent to engage with each other.
“We will not tolerate and will block racist or misogynistic comments as well as any hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.”
This indicates that any individual who comments on official CW social media accounts using hateful language will be blocked from seeing or interacting with the page. Again, this seems like something they must have done very early on. However, it doesn’t really do anything to stop these hateful comments from being directed to the actors and personalities themselves. While individuals’ own social media accounts are their responsibility, a company like Warner Bros. must supply as much help to their employees (especially those not ready for the high-profile status a role like Iris West gets) as possible.
Also, it is worth mentioning again, that the show wasted no time in firing Hartley Sawyer once racist and misogynistic tweets from his past resurfaced.
How Fandom Toxicity, Racism, Sexism, and hate Are All eager Bedfellows
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Now, some people out there are definitely thinking that at least some of the criticism about Candice Patton being cast as Iris was “not racist.” My first action is “who cares? It doesn’t matter.” My second action is that bigotry and prejudice often drive some of these “fandom” discussions.
For example, lots of fans of Candice Patton are actively angry at fellow The Flash actress Danielle Panabaker and those who shipped “SnowBarry,” a romantic pairing between Barry Allen and Panabaker’s Caitlin Snow. In the early promotion for the show, before Iris and Barry became an official couple, the whole “SnowBarry” thing was a romantic misdirect. This is common in television shows of all kinds. Panabaker’s milquetoast support for those shippers is seen by some fans as racist in itself. Now, only she and Candice Patton really know for sure if that is true. However, given that Patton has also spoken out about the value of not pitting women against each other, on- or off-screen, it seems unlikely.
Yet, unquestionably, some people likely preferred that romantic pairingbecause Panabaker, like Gustin, is white. So, to paraphrase a common political saying, not all SnowBarry shippers are racists, but it’s likely that all racist shippers wanted SnowBarry to happen. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, your humble correspondent knows very little about shippers and the culture of conversations amongst them. So, if I am missing a major point or two, please tell me in the comments below.
Ultimately, what’s crucial to remember is that racism, sexism, and all other forms of hate must be antithetical to fans of shows like these. considering that their inception, superhero comic stories have been ones of inclusion and promoting social justice. Such hateful commentary doesn’t elevate discussion about a piece of art, and the CW is ideal to say it has no place on their social pages.
The Flash returns for season 7 in 2021.
What do you think about the new CW social media comment policy, and do you think it addresses the issues Candice Patton raised? tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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