Arrow, like most comic book related TV or film in recent years, has rarely taken an in depth look at an extremely divisive, current events topic. The Green Arrow of DC Comics lore has rarely shied away from social or political issues at varying times of his comic book history, but the show has been mostly subtle and respectful of its diverse audience. This is not to say others have waved or slugged you in the face their political or social views, but Arrow has not.
Politics V. Pop Culture has taken on lighter issues prior to this, but the Arrow episode ‘Spectre of the Gun’ requires a review and discussion on the basis of its Gun violence and Gun Control debate that made up the bulk of the Season 5 episode.
So lets discuss CW’s Arrow, and their handling of the controversial subject matter, and determine who is the winner in this match-up. For anyone who has not or intends to watch the show, spoilers are just around the bend.
Green Arrow Verses Guns
Arrow Season 5 Episode 13 kicked off with a bang, and then several more, literally. Star City’s City Hall was shot up by several people with a guns. At this point, with everything else going on in Oliver Queen’s city like Prometheus, The Vigilante, and such, who knows what happened there at this point. Especially when Oliver himself and Curtis both shot outside this same building. Once the villain is revealed, it turns out to be none of the above, and the villain immediately becomes a plot device for a larger, real world discussion that permeates the remainder of the episode with the exception of the character Wild Dog’s long-awaited back story. The central antagonist had shot up the mayors office and went on a citywide shooting spree because the previous mayor did not enact Gun Control, more or less. So, how did CW and Arrow’s showrunners and writers handle this divisive topic? What was their overall message in the end? Well, first we would need to start with…
What The Showrunners Say It is
GreenArrowTV reported that the writers and producers had stated their case, and explained what they were hoping to serve up an adult after school special to “Tackle the issue of the day,” according to Executive Producer and writer of this episode.
“I grew up in a time where it was commonplace — like literally every week — for a one-hour drama to tackle the issues of the day. Somewhere along the line we got away from that, the whole industry got away from that.”
Guggenheim went on to explain that Arrow episodes like this were the audience’s one serving of vegetables, amongst 22 “pieces of candy.”
“We went into Season 5 with the desire to, like, OK, it’s the fifth season. We’ve hopefully earned the freedom to. In 23 episodes of television, you can have 22 pieces of candy and one episode of vegetables. We sort of felt that gun violence felt like the right topic, a) because of its topicality but also because of the level of gun violence that is on Arrow.
Also, GreenArrowTV reported that Executive Producer Wendy Merricle said that the Arrow producers and showrunners hope to have more of these servings of vegetables in the future, and hope to showcase both sides of the issues. So, that is what they stated was their goal, but you must be wondering…
What This Writer Says It Is
How they chose to enter this oft heard of and discussed national issue was a little cliché and wrongheaded, but surprisingly, they carried on an episode around it with some emotion and thoughtfulness.
Arrow writers really seemed to be focusing more on a message of unity in this current dark, divided wasteland of American politics 2017. The emphasis and message managed to come through the haze that each side of the debate has a view and often times there’s an extenuating circumstance or valid reason they both view the issue from their sides, and both are just as legitimate as the other. Unity was focused upon in the sense that we need to not just speak amongst like-minded individuals to come to a solution, but rather have an intense discussion with those who think completely contrary to our own views. These ideals were brought to the final conclusion that one can find that we both value the same thing, even if our approaches to the situation is different.
We can only find solutions when we come together, including and considering both sides of the issue within the solution.
The Arrow writers kept Star City’s gun violence solution vague with no real details, other than a political title. Why you may ask? This writer feels that, in the end, it was less about giving the country an exact solution, and more about the aforementioned ideals within this article. The Arrow cast of characters became an example for how issues should and could be dealt with. It was Echo Kellum’s Mr. Terrific character that encompassed the entire episode in one moment between Felicity and Curtis.
“We used to talk about things as a society, you know? We’d debate, and we would argue, and we would still respect each other after.”
“Somewhere along the line that just became… rude.”
“Yeah. It became impolitic to talk politics. I can’t help but wonder that maybe that’s why our country is the way it is today.”
So, the only thing left to discuss is…
What It Actually Is…The Verdict
The verdict is a draw. In typical Arrow fashion, they intended on introducing something without shoving one side down your throat and telling you to mindlessly believe as they do. Unlike in the past, when some of these issues were brought forth, there was a debate. Though, it was over the top at times, and sounded like political bumper stickers arguing.
However, the producers seem to have a tinge of arrogance in thinking they can throw out heavily divisive issues, and pat themselves on the back at the end of every episode feeling like they have solved or pushed the issue and the people into a like-minded compromise, thus creating the graph for a solution to the problem.
While the writers did not solve the Gun Control debate, they did reasonably showcase America’s divided landscape that truly represents most, if not all current issues today.
What Oliver, Rene, and Curtis realize is that both sides of the debate are worth being heard, and without both sides having an input, no issue will ever be solved. Perhaps, if not for the Gun Control debate, but a memo to Washington D.C., take note of how debate and discussion is done.