Not Just an OTP: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Snowbarrisco?

#BringBackTheOriginalTeamFlash is officially one of my favourite things about 2018 and I haven’t even seen Black Panther yet, because it shows you the lengths that people will go to remove a Black woman from the centre of something when the white woman isn’t getting her due. In their eyes, anyway. Remember that hierarchy I talked about in the last one? That’s what they’re advocating for here. I would strongly advise you to check it out if you need a good chuckle, and count how many times you see the same gif.

Now, those fans will tell you it’s because romance has “taken over the show,” and Iris is getting too much screentime, and “Westallen brings too much soap opera drama,” and they’re all mad at Ralph for stealing focus from Caitlin and Cisco, which some are trying to say is their biggest selling point. But, again, since I and many others were not, in fact, born sometime in the last 24 hours, we can see through to what they actually mean. I think their reasons for disliking Ralph are genuine, but it’s hard to figure out how genuine it is when it took them this long to notice that Caitlin and Cisco have barely been fleshed out outside of being Barry’s teammates. Visit the hashtag and you’ll see that only now that they’ve noticed that Cisco and Caitlin have had little development outside of S.T.A.R. Labs, and the hashtag started the day that news broke about an Iris-focused episode where she’d be getting superpowers. Moreover, whenever Ralph is the focus of an episode, there aren’t nearly as many dramatics as there are when Iris simply gets more to do than Caitlin. It’s almost as if it’s fine for OTF to get shafted as long as anyone but Iris does the shafting.

Now, I’m not going to discuss the assertion that romance has taken over the show because all that means is that the romance they despise isn’t being shown so little that they can ignore it and Iris, but the notion that Iris is getting too much screentime is a little easier to define. You know that study that says that whenever women are thirty percent of a group, men feel outnumbered? That’s exactly what’s going on here. For those who care to look, Caitlin’s screentime is more or less the same as it’s been in previous seasons – if you do the calculations, her screentime at this point is actually more than it was during the same point in seasons 1 and 2 – it’s just that Iris’ has increased. Caitlin is doing the same thing she’s been doing since the pilot, as is Cisco, which is why all the dramatics about Iris stealing their science scenes are pretty funny. Whenever Iris has gotten something for herself or been the focus of something for the last few years, fans act as if the sky is falling. There was no mass outrage when Caitlin had an entire episode dedicated to herself, nor at the fact that we’ve now had three Ralph-focused episodes. Iris is just more involved with the plot, and that’s what people are upset about – especially because most of them have convinced themselves that everyone on that team is scared of her and that she’s taken over their roles. And quite why the leading lady of the show should get less screen time than everyone else is beyond me, but I digress.

I watched the birth of the hashtag in real-time, so I can tell you that it was basically a reaction to Iris getting an episode based on herself in addition to the fact that she’s shown to be more important than Caitlin during seaosn 4. What this hashtag actually tells me is the same as what they’ve always told me about themselves:  they care the most about Caitlin’s position in the narrative and will defend anything that elevates it. They want to diminish the Black people on the show to the point where all of Barry’s super heroics barely involve them. They don’t want Barry to develop, because they want Caitlin and Cisco and Harry to tell him how to use his powers all his time. They don’t want to see Barry form bonds outside of the team, because they want Caitlin and Cisco to be his deepest connection. They don’t care about the legacy of The Flash, because they want Ralph off the show, the matriarch of the family gone, and even though many have done well to pretend that they love Wally, there’s no talk about him coming back to help Barry train Team Flash, or find a way to integrate him into the plot. They don’t care about world-building because they want the entire thing to be based in the basement. And rather than include the only other woman on the show in this little club, they recoil at the idea of Caitlin debasing herself to be friends with Iris. For a group of people who are concerned with female empowerment when Iris has to be alone to be strong, independent, and badass, you’d think that they’d want these women to be strong, independent, badass, and friends. But I don’t suppose that’s any of my business.

Many want better storylines. Many want more “friendship moments” (though we’ve already talked about what that means). Really, though, they all just want to emphasise the divide between Barry’s family – or, the Black people – and Caitlin, Cisco and Wells, and focus on that second group so it looks like his family isn’t important. They don’t want to move from S.T.A.R. Labs because they’ve figured out that Caitlin has almost zero relevance outside it, which is why it’s imperative that the Wests leave. It would sound legitimate if it weren’t so pathetically transparent, but at least it shows that they don’t actually care about Joe if he gets more to do than the scientists.

(Also, they will insist that the hashtag is for positivity and to demand better development for Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and Harry. Fans of Iris West did the same thing when they felt that she was being sidelined or when they wanted more for her, or to combat negativity, or spread positivity. So why is it #BringBackTheOriginalTeamFlash instead of #CiscoDeservesBetter or #CaitlinDeservesBetter or – Never mind. We all know why).

Why? Well, the Highlander Theory, of course! They want to kick Iris off the team because it’s the only thing that Caitlin has that makes her more special than Iris. They don’t want any other woman on the team but Iris can stay on the show so Caitlin as their self-insert can lord her “special girl” status over her, who’s nothing more than Barry’s airheaded emotional and sexual labourer. They want to pull focus to S.T.A.R. Labs because it’s the position where Caitlin is the special girl – until Iris became the team leader, that is. And, to be honest, they want Iris out of the lab so that making their gifsets about “moments” and “looks” and “explosive sexual chemistry” is easier. Because while they’ve been kind enough to relegate Joe and Iris to the role of telling Barry how kind, smart, and important he is, it’s pretty clear that this hashtag is just a transparent way to make the white woman and the brown man who doesn’t threaten their hierarchy the focus of the show so that the Black woman isn’t. Oh, and Harry. “Original Team Flash” kind of falls apart because it’s actually “Original Team Flash Except Not Eobard Because He Was a Murderer and Not Joe Because Reasons But Yes Harry Can Stay Ehhhhh Ralph Can Stay I Guess GET AWAY IRIS Who’s Wally?”

But I suppose that’s rather too long to get into a hashtag, and they’ve made their points clear enough.

 (really, guys. This hashtag is brilliantly transparent, which makes it kind of amazing).

And since I’m on a roll, why not? Let’s talk about chemistry next time. I’m sure I’ve got an argument in me for that whole “subjectivity” thing.

The next part, For Colored Girls, will be published after a short break in a couple of days. In the meantime, keep up the conversation going in the comments.

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