Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim has expressed interest in spotlighting the Black Lives Matter movement/police brutality conflicts that have been of great focus in recent media and news outlets during Arrow Season 6. His hope is to portray the topic in the form of Season 5 episode “Spectre of the Gun” which tried to tackle the use of gun control.
The Season 5 episode was met with mixed reviews, and most importantly, it never truly resolved the real life issue presented. Trying to up the stakes by featuring a Black Lives Matter storyline will not do the movement any justice and it surely won’t advance any opinions about it.
As an African-American male, this issue does hit very close to home for me. We live in a world where people have very different mindsets and perceive others in very different ways; whether that’s based on their skin color, sexual identity or political stances. I’ve seen, I’ve heard, and I’ve experienced the various setbacks that come with being an African-American male in today’s society, and sadly, as much as we’d like to think things have changed in this world, there’s still a long way to go as far as social and racial progression.
The Black Lives Matter movement was created and utilized to protest against the mistreatment of black people in the U.S. The movement has been met with much praise and welcome, just as much as it’s been bombarded with criticism and disdain. There are different opinions on the matter that go deeper than what could probably be expressed in this article, but the very thing that drives BLM is the voice of black people. The Arrow writing team consists of 13 writers, including Guggenheim, none of which are black people.
— Arrow Writers Room (@ARROWwriters) June 16, 2017
This is an automatic red flag. How can something that pertains to the treatment of an entire race be expanded upon by those who haven’t even experienced the perspectives and hardships that BLM have called into light? When Guggenheim was asked about the lack of diversity within the writers’ room, this is what he had to say:
We'll be bringing someone in.
— Marc Guggenheim (@mguggenheim) September 8, 2017
Which was then met with much backlash from fans and Black Lives Matter advocates:
Question is if you're able to bring them in for this episode what stopped you guys from hiring them full time in the first place?
— 🌸🌞 (@LuluLemonLime83) September 8, 2017
Respectfully, Black Lives Matter isn't just a "hot topic" to be used for ratings. It is a matter of life and death for our community.
— ReBecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) September 8, 2017
All very valid points toward the matter. Furthermore, what about the treatment of characters of color in the series? John Diggle, Arrow‘s most prominent African-American male, started out as Oliver’s driver and bodyguard which is an immediate eye-roll in itself regarding racial stigmas about black men. Of course he’s developed into a much more hard-hitting player among the ensemble cast, but nothing about his character has really delved into what it means to be a black man within this world of vigilantism and violence.
The same can be said for Curtis or René. The reason these men haven’t been given these voices on what it means to look like them in this very dangerous world is because they don’t have the right people writing for them. Simply “bringing someone in” to tell this story for a single episode won’t allow any time to really shed light on the issues at hand, and it certainly won’t ensure that a story like this will be continuous or be told again.
Marc Guggenheim and other Arrow executives seriously need to reconsider moving forward with this plan. There are plenty other series and writers out there that can properly handle such a story with true meaning and deeply explore the various viewpoints of social injustices among a community, but this writing team surely isn’t it.
What do you think? Is this a topic you’d think would be well explored on this series? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!