Julien Neaves – Editor
Greetings folks. So I had a Flash article all prepped and ready to go but then I saw the news that Hartley Sawyer, who plays Ralph Dibny aka The Elongated Man, had been fired due to racist and misogynistic tweets. And I was sad to hear the news, as the addition of the fast-talking, goofy, stretchy private investigator in the fourth season was a breath of fresh air after the dismal third season. The show had also set up an interesting storyline for him which we presumed would have been fleshed out in season seven.
Now there are just a few ways the powers that be (TPB) can deal with this issue and for this article we will be looking at four of them. With a SPOILER ALERT let’s talk it out:
#4 Soap opera recast
The first time I saw a TV character recast was when I was a child watching The Young and The Restless. You heard the voice over “the role of Thaddeus Newman will now be played by Flint Montgomery” and so forth. It was a bit abrupt but eventually you would get used to the new face. Funny enough I only realised Sawyer had been on The Young and The Restless when I was researching this article. But back to our story.
Now the PTB can simply recast the role but I think this is the least likely outcome. You can get away with it if it is a supporting character who has been away for awhile (see Supergirl’s mom), but it’s a jarring experience and just feels kind of odd for a regular character.
#3 Pass the mantle
Another way to address the issue would be to have the mantle of The Elongated Man passed on to another character. You could have some kind of accident offscreen, or shot in a way where you don’t see Ralph’s face clearly (as the character would not be played by Sawyer but a stand-in), and have his powers transferred to someone else. Ralph would have to die though which would suck.
A likely contender to receive his abilities would be the lovely troublemaker (and future Mrs Dibny in the comics) Sue Dearbon, though that would make her “The Elongated Woman“. Or we could have another previously introduced character or even a new character take up the mantle.
#2 Doctor Who-style
Fans of long running British science fiction show Doctor Who (aka Whovians aka awesome folks) can tell you all about the show’s main character The Doctor and his regeneration ability. With this ability The Doctor’s face and personality change which makes the recast a part of the show’s canon and an event in itself.
In The Flash we have already seen Ralph’s ability to change his face into a new one. So the PTB can have an accident or some trickster villain force him to permanently change his face into someone else. So in this case you have a recast but, like Doctor Who, you write it into the show. Much more seamless than just having Ralph show up with a new face and have everyone pretend nothing has changed. Aunt Viv anyone?
#1 Re-hire Hartley
The simplest response from the PTB would be to rehire Sawyer. I found 17 change.org petitions calling for that, with one petition receiving more than 5,500 signatures as at the time of this article. Now I have seen the tweets in question and they are pretty awful, and I am in no way a supporter of either racism or misogyny. But the tweets were from 2012 and 2014, and a lot can happen in six years. Is he actually a racist and a misogynist or were these meant to be stupid, ill-conceived jokes. And if he had actual racist and/or misogynistic tendencies does he still think like that? Or has he changed? Honestly I don’t know.
In the past when stuff like this happened the celebrity would go on an apology tour, but in this modern cancel culture age we dispose of people without a second thought. In an instant society we want instant results. No apology, no second chances. People get their “justice” and move on. But why not use this as an opportunity to deal with the greater issues with the actor at the centre? Let Sawyer have his apology tour and, if the public views it as sincere, let him be rehired. All I’m saying is people can change, and the actor should at least be given a chance to prove that he has.
So that’s my thoughts. How do you think the Sawyer situation should be handled? For a less controversial Arrowverse topic you can check out All 8 Arrow Big Bads Ranked here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. Also loves promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and is an aspiring author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Can also be found talking about TV and movie stuff on Instagram as redmanwriter and on Facebook at Movieville