It’s been a few days since Hartley Sawyer was fired from his gig on The Flash after old tweets were deemed “derogatory remarks” by The CW. Still, his portrayal of Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, has its fans who want him rehired.
A petition to Warner Bros. was started on Change.org to get them to reverse The CW’s decision. It has garnered over 7,000 supporters as of today.
The description, which reads as follows, points out the comments were made nearly a decade ago:
“Harley Sawyer played elongated man on The Flash and was fired over racist comments made 6-8 Years ago. I believe Hartley should not be fired over something that happened years ago and now is a different person. Help me bring him back to The Flash TV Series.”
A top comment agrees, saying anyone could get fired now:
“Everyone has said something offensive whether they mean for it to be offensive or not. He shouldn’t be fired because of a past decision that was popular to do at the time. If that’s the case every actor/actress who made posts like that should be fired too.”
Sawyer’s many “derogatory remarks” were exposed by actress Skai Jackson who tweeted screenshots of his old posts.
Hartley Sawyer, you have been exposed… pic.twitter.com/ig5VBXoZmK
— Skai Jackson (@skaijackson) June 5, 2020
The revelation was met with his swift dismissal and an impassioned statement by executive producer Eric Wallace. It reads in part:
“This morning, many of you learned that Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season Seven of THE FLASH. Concerning his social media tweets, they broke my heart and made me mad as hell. And they’re indicative of the larger problem in our country. Because at present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment – unconscious or otherwise – terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal. That’s why our country is standing up once again and shouting ‘ENOUGH!’ and taking to the streets to bring active change.”
Wallace went on to say he’s “committed to bringing permanent change to the work environment here on THE FLASH,” and that he will hire more “Black and Brown writers, directors, actors, and producers of all genders” to work on the show and “tell FLASH stories.”
Wallace concluded by mentioning George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor before stating, “Murder is not democracy. Systemic and institutional white privilege is not equality.” He added also the tag #BlackLivesMatter.
Below is Wallace’s statement in full.
My statement regarding Hartley Sawyer and THE FLASH. pic.twitter.com/hni0MxOWZU
— Eric Wallace (@ewrote) June 8, 2020
The show’s star Grant Gustin was “shocked, saddened and angry” over Sawyer’s tweets. Gustin admitted he couldn’t add much after Eric Wallace’s statement, except that “Words matter,” so he shared Wallace’s post on Instagram.
Feeling the heat from fans, producers, and costars, Hartley Sawyer deleted his Twitter account and issued an apology on his Instagram. It begins contritely:
“I’m not here to make excuses – regardless of the intention, my words matter and they carry profound consequences. And mine can and have caused pain and [embarrassment], along with feelings I can only imagine, to supporters and fans, my [castmates], the crew, my colleagues and friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable.”
View this post on Instagram
My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. This was not acceptable behavior. These were words I threw out at the time with no thought or recognition of the harm my words could do, and now have done today. I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now. Years ago, thanks to friends and experiences who helped me to open my eyes, I began my journey into becoming a more responsible adult – in terms of what I say, what I do, and beyond. I've largely kept that journey private, and this is another way that I have let so many down. I still have more work to do. But how I define myself now does not take away the impact of my words, or my responsibility for them. I am very sorry.
Given the current political climate, chances Sawyer will be brought back to The Flash for season 7 or after are worse than slim, no matter what the impact of the petition.
Quite a few actors and entertainers, from Expendables star Terry Crews to WWE wrestler Jaxson Ryker, have come under fire for social media posts since the death of George Floyd and the riots and global protests.
Twitter mobs and others are going after another Flash star in Danielle Panabaker, Stephen Amell, and actor/director John Krasinski with little success. Both Amell and Panabaker were accused of racism.