The Flash fires Hartley Sawyer after racist, misogynist tweets resurface
EW has confirmed that the actor who played Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man on The CW superhero drama was fired after old tweets containing racist, misogynist, and homophobic content resurfaced in the past few weeks. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to break the news.
"Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for Season 7 of The Flash," said Warner Bros. TV, The CW, Berlanti Production, and The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace in a joint statement. "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 policies, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.”
The tweets in question were published before Sawyer joined The Flash in 2017 and are dated from 2012-2014. At the time of publishing, his Twitter account has been deleted; however, there are still screenshots of the tweets floating around the internet. Among them were references to sexual assault ("As a lad, one of my favorite activities was kidnapping homeless women and cutting off their breasts"), racist comments ("The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist things is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me"), and sexist remarks ("Things only women should be in: twilight screenings, gynecologists offices, and Porsches).
Sawyer's dismissal arrives as protests against systemic racism and police brutality sweep the nation, which Wallace referenced in a second statement he released on Twitter Monday morning. "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," wrote Wallace. "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 about active change."
After promising to bring more people of color onto the show, Wallace added: "To those who still aren't sure why so many Americans have taken to the streets to make their voices known, I ask you to consider this: Every time a Black or Brown life is harassed or murdered, as in the case of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many others, our entire country fractures and moves further and further away from any moral authority we often claim to have in the world."
On May 30, Sawyer posted a lengthy apology 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. This was not acceptable behavior," he said. "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."
As of right now, it's unclear how The Flash will handle Sawyer's departure. When we last left off with the superhero series, Ralph had just warned Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) — who is destined to become his wife — that Eva McCulloch framed her for Joseph Carver's mother.
The Flash is expected to return in 2021.
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.