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Though it's one of the more optimism-driven superhero projects out there, The Flash hasn't been without its behind-the-scenes controversies. The superhero drama's latest unfortunate setback concerns now-former star Hartley Sawyer, who portrayed the comics' private detective Ralph Dibney, the alter ego of the super-stretchy Elongated Man. Sawyer was terminated after a variety of offensive messages were unearthed from his social media accounts.
While much of the country was wracked by protests over racism and police reform in the past week, some people were dedicated to unearthing some of Hartley Sawyer's controversial older tweets, which were all crafted at a time before he joined The Flash's cast. Some of Sawyer's tweets were racially insensitive, as noted by the message below.
The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.
Hartley Sawyer's Twitter account, which has since been deleted, also featured messages of a more sexual nature, including one where he noted he'd "enjoyed a secret boob viewing" at an audition at the time.
Here's a statement about the actor's firing that was provided by The CW, Warner Bros. TV, and Berlanti Productions, along with the show's current showrunner and EP, Eric Wallace, per THR.
Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash. In regards to Mr. Sawyer's posts on social media, we do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and polices, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.
Some of Hartley Sawyer's past messages came up after the actor shared an Instagram message in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, with fans calling him out for hypocrisy in reference to his past comments. It was only one day later when the actor took to the social media site to offer up an apology, though that came a full week before his firing was announced.
Part of that apology can be found below:
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.
More currently, showrunner Eric Wallace expanded upon the public statement and unveiled a larger and more personal explanation for Hartley Sawyer's firing on Twitter, as seen below.
It's unclear at this point whether Ralph Dibney will be written out of the show, or if The Flash's producers will choose to recast him. Considering his romantic partner from the comics was only recently introduced in live-action, it would be a shame if the character disappeared altogether. That said, Sawyer has held the role for years now, so it likely won't be an easy decision to make.
While not related in any way, The Flash previously fired former executive producer and co-showrunner Andrew Kreisberg back in 2017 after allegations surfaced of sexual harassment and other problematic workplace behavior.
The silver lining here is that The Flash Season 7 won't be airing on The CW until 2021, with filming starting up in Vancouver later than normal. Widespread TV shutdowns halted the show's production even before Season 6 had officially wrapped, so expect for the new season to wrap up some story angles before digging into any new stories.
The Flash Season 6 is currently available to stream on Netflix. Stay tuned to our Summer 2020 TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way.