Earlier today, the news first came out that The CW and Warner Bros. TV are officially firing Hartley Sawyer from The Flash. The actor had played the part of Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man over the past few years, and the move comes after the resurfacing of racist, misogynistic, and homophobic messages on social media from before he was a part of the show.
(All of this still raises the question of why proper research wasn’t done into his social media before hiring him, but that is something that will have to be corrected moving forward.)
We’ve already heard from showrunner Eric Wallace on the subject; with that, the next order of business is hearing from star Grant Gustin. It’s important to hear his take given that he is not only the star of the show, he is the ambassador for it. He’s looked towards as a leader and that comes with responsibility. He chose today on Instagram to re-post the message from Wallace, but also a message of support standing behind everything that he said. He concluded his comments with a simple sentence of just “words matter.”
Are people capable of changing? Absolutely, and that is something that Sawyer intimated that he had in his recent apology for his actions. Yet, the capacity for change does not excuse one’s past actions, and nor does it mean that a the entire cast and crew has to bear the brunt of backlash for things that they did not do. While fault lies with executives for not vetting Sawyer’s social media before his casting, all keeping him on board at this point would do is create a tense, divisive environment where it feels like there are no consequence for past actions. That’s not supporting a movement; that’s instead creating a chasm where certain actions are excused away. Actors would then find themselves in a position where they would be unfairly asked about working with him or “standing by him,” even if that is not the case; they don’t deserve that. They deserve progress and to be represented and heard; we’re far from that point now, and removing Sawyer is just a first step for The Flash rather than the last.
We will have more news on this story as it breaks. (Photo: The CW.)