An Open Letter to Geoff Johns, regarding the series, Arrow, on The CW.

Virtual Humanity
Jul 29, 2016 · 8 min read

Dear Mr. Johns,

I would like to preface this letter by extending my congratulations on your new position as President of DC Entertainment. Over the years, fans like myself have admired your work, passion and dedication to the DC Universe and believe your new role is exciting, fully earned, and deserved. I hope that you find further success in your new position.

I wanted to congratulate you first as it pains me to even dare ask anything from you so soon after your responsibilities have increased. However, a large community of DC Comics, Green Arrow, and Arrow TV show fans have been marginalised over the past couple of years by the creators behind CW’s Arrow.

You may or may not be aware that Arrow has dramatically changed in the past two years from its original conception as a modern, gritty, Nolan/Grell-style interpretation of the Green Arrow character. As a result, recent seasons have not been well-received by fans and critics alike. There are many reasons for this shift in opinion: an incoherent story, underdeveloped characters, increasingly poor choreography, little respect for the source material, budget cuts, and the ever-growing presence of the romantic plot line between Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, further referred to as “Olicity.” “Olicity” is a matter I covered in a previous open letter to the writers and creators of Arrow [1]. This relationship has caused the degradation of key characters, namely Oliver and Felicity. No matter which relationships people wish to see on screen, characters should not be sacrificed in the name of pandering.

The last open letter became surprisingly popular. Despite it being primarily a cathartic release, it gained a following and managed to reach the writers of Arrow, including Marc Guggenheim. However, it seems the contents of the letter were disregarded and the opinions of the very people who had been consuming the product since season one, carelessly dismissed [2]. This is symptomatic of the core issue.

It has become blatantly obvious that the writers and producers have been interacting with a specific community of the Arrow fanbase (“Oliciters”) in an unprofessional manner, leaving comic book and initial Arrow fans to feel marginalised and alienated. More specifically, the writers have been rude, defensive, unfavouring of criticism, and have even implied that fans who are not in favor of “Olicity” are in fact worse than Donald Trump supporters [3]. These “Anti-Oliciters” have been referred to as “bozos” simply for not liking a dominating romance plot [4], and have been insinuated as being misogynistic and hateful, often without due cause [16]. Conversely, the writers have pandered to “Olicity” fans; subverting text to suit the needs of a niche community that does not seem to care for story beyond its promotion for a contrived romantic plot. Writers have introduced plotlines based on requests from “Oliciters” and have amended the role and scope of certain key characters and character interactions [5]. In exchange, for what amounts to bribery, the writers’ room has received “gift baskets” (although the contents were rightly distributed to charity) [6]. The writer’s room portrays their bias on social media by only addressing messages related to but not limited to “Olicity,” “Felicity,” and “Shipping Wars”.

The showrunner, Marc Guggenheim, has shown his personal bias to “Olicity” fans through his lack of professionalism when interacting with them. At San Diego Comic Con, Marc Guggenheim leaked plot lines to an Olicity fan concerning Katie Cassidy’s four-show contract before the actual announcement was made [7]. This same person is followed by Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle on Twitter and was told possible spoilers regarding Oliver and Felicity [13]. This type of behavior is uncalled for and extremely unprofessional. His personal bias to Felicity is shown through his claims that she will never die [11]. Pandering towards some fans ends up provoking negligence toward the show itself.

Therefore, you may understand why people are losing faith in Arrow. It is becoming ever more clear that the writers do not want to uphold their original vision of reinterpreting a beloved comic-book character, but instead are writing to appease a very particular, niche fanbase. And this fanbase has driven away potential writers, creators and supporters, like Gail Simone or Kevin Smith, from the show [8].

This bias towards the “Olicity” fan base is not benefiting the show. As previously mentioned, media critics such as IGN and Forbes have reviewed season 3 and season 4 poorly in comparison to the first two seasons [9]. Some have given up on watching Arrow altogether, such as critic/journalist John Campea. The hosts of the leading Arrow podcast (Quiver Podcast) temporarily made shock waves as they debated whether to continue into Season 5. Viewer ratings have also plunged [10]. This apparent need to focus on “Olicity” is stripping away essential, definitive aspects of the Green Arrow character, which appear in the comics and once appeared in the show itself. His love for the city, his unabashed left-wing outlook, his responsibilities to those in need, and his dynamics with his family, friends and long-term lover Black Canary have all taken a back seat or been removed entirely. Furthermore, important comic character Connor Hawke, with his rich history, religion and parentage, was exchanged for the lesser, whitewashed and irrelevant character William.

You may be able to understand that losing important traits like this is crippling for those who have read Green Arrow since they were kids, or were introduced to these traits in the first seasons of Arrow. But not only is the show losing these traits, it’s replacing them with something less impactful, less interesting, and less relevant to the audience: bad story, bad characters, and bad romances.

As you know, Black Canary is as important to Oliver Queen as his bow and arrows. But the writers decided that this amazing character and unique relationship should die and be replaced by Felicity Smoak. A pioneering relationship of a Lefty Justice Warrior and a Female Rights Fighter, who bring justice on their own and as a pair, has been exchanged for the more standard “Superhero dates girl next door” trope. Why? Because of obsessive demand by a vocal minority.

We are all for creative liberties. We love The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Constantine, Injustice, Supergirl, and every single one of the other DC Elseworlds. After all, comics as a medium would not exist without change and evolution. But this choice has left everyone flabbergasted. Maybe it would have been justified if Black Canary had been given a story arc and development before she was killed, but that never happened. Marc Guggenheim has gone on record saying, “of course we can [kill the Black Canary]!” which is a statement of complete arrogance [11]. Surely that is an action which is earned, and not a privilege? Black Canary’s death falls into the “Women in Refrigerators” trope, which is disrespectful to women across the world. This unplanned death shows how ill-prepared the showrunners are at performing their jobs [12]. Their inability to plan what they called “a major death” shifted story lines and cut short story arcs. Characters were pushed to the side in favor of a relationship that they felt was more important than the death of a main character. This resulted in many problems, including a rushed and poorly finished arc for the Black Canary. Her death, combined with a focus on relationships over story, proves that Arrow has now diverged from its place as a comic book show, becoming a soap opera with costumes.

An interview with Andrew Kreisberg during the early years of Arrow, revealed the change in philosophy in the writers’ room over the years. “We’ll give people what they need, even if that’s not what they want” [15]. This is a great stance to take as an artist and one that has proved to be a success, as seen on The Flash and Arrow seasons one and two. And yet, as Arrow fans have witnessed, this mantra no longer applies to the writers. The interview also goes into depth about the role of Laurel, her importance to Oliver Queen and as a character in her own right. This directly conflicts with Marc Guggenheim’s recent comments on the death of Laurel, stating that they were never intending to re-establish her relationship with Oliver [14].

Not all initial fans of Arrow are hateful. The majority are dedicated, extremely loyal individuals fueled with creativity and humour. And yes, they are passionate. All they want is to see Arrow become what it once was: a great show to introduce their friends to. Comic book fans have been waiting a long time to share their passion, and Arrow was pioneering television, in that it made this strange, Robin Hood millionaire a touchstone for everybody, including “Olicity” fans!

But when we look over the horizon and see The Flash lording over superhero television, we cannot help but to mourn for what we lost. Arrow should be up there too, because we have seen it succeed before. Why can it not lead the way again? Arrow had and still has the potential to be some of the most engaging television of its genre and outshine its competitor Daredevil on a story level. So to watch the show not use the Green Arrow assets to its full potential is disheartening.

We know you are a busy man, but we, the faithful Arrow community, ask you to please: find time to look at the show. Take the time to assess its needs. Offer your insight and guiding hand. Look at the show critically and professionally and do not take it for granted. Shows come and go, but the last thing we would all want is for Arrow to be forgotten.

Thank you very much for your time.

Yours Faithfully,

Zoe Jennings (@Sillionx) and the Arrow Community including:

Draven Museus (@spiritfur), Rushil Kothare (@RushilKothare), Abdullah Ramzan (@AbdullahR76), Norm Keller, Uncle Benis (@Bigtimebenis), Pranav Ravikumar, Dylan Smith, Alex Dixon (@Abcmsaj) Daniel Golaway, Shaswat Chaubey and Natalie Parker.


References:

[1] First Open letter:
http://www.opnlttr.com/letter/open-letter-writers-and-creators-arrow

[2] Dismissal of Open Letter: https://twitter.com/mguggenheim/status/713935089550295040

[3] Disrespecting fans by comparing them to Trump supporters:
https://i.reddituploads.com/94b6793b383a4564831bbe9b4ae1ffb2?fit=max&h=1536&w=1536&s=65efd5e62b1203604ca46f4ae75b256d

[4] Actively insulting fans: https://twitter.com/JakeCoburn2/status/705240774192062465

[5] Writers add the Quentin Lance/Donna Smoak romance due to requests by Olicity fans:
https://twitter.com/arrowwriters/status/664668502595252224

[6] Arrow Writers accept a ‘Go Fund Me’ donation from Olicity fans:
https://twitter.com/ARROWwriters/status/718915495068471296

[7] Marc Guggenheim reveals Katie Cassidy’s new contract before public announcement
http://jbuffyangel.tumblr.com/post/147837772133/i-met-marc-guggenheim-he-gave-me-spoilers

[9] Recent season reviews compared with previous seasons:
http://uk.ign.com/articles/2016/06/02/arrow-season-4-review
http://uk.ign.com/articles/2016/06/02/arrow-season-1-review
http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/05/26/arrow-ends-season-4-with-a-whimper-not-a-bang/#6524369e16f5

[8] After ‘Olicity’ backlash, Kevin Smith would take Onomatopoeia to The Flash than Arrow:
https://twitter.com/ThatKevinSmith/status/731941212219920384

[10] Recent season ratings compared with previous seasons:
http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt2193021

[11] Marc Guggenheim explaining how they can kill whomever they please without care:
http://jbuffyangel.tumblr.com/post/147930248763/marc-guggenheim-convo-round-2-spoilers

[12] Interview stating Black Canary’s death was unplanned:
http://www.eonline.com/uk/news/754704/who-was-in-the-grave-arrow-boss-sounds-off-on-that-major-death

[13]Marc Guggenheim reveals episode 5 will be a ‘special’ Olicity episode to an Olicty fan
http://jbuffyangel.tumblr.com/post/148083417793/quick-marc-convo-clarification

[14] Marc Guggenheim on how Laurel Lance was limited to Season 1
http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2016/04/06/changing-everything-arrow-producers-and-cast-discuss-season-4s-shocking-death

[15] Interview with Andrew Kreisberg regarding Laurel and the writers’ vision
http://collider.com/andrew-kreisnerg-arrow-interview/

[16] Olicity fans opinion on ‘comic book’ fans
http://jbuffyangel.tumblr.com/post/147930248763/marc-guggenheim-convo-round-2-spoilers
https://twitter.com/queenandsmoak/status/714175948241899521
https://twitter.com/sismoak/status/758414090687709185


For a printable copy of this document, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/zjqdeaf

Virtual Humanity

Written by

Gamer and DC lover. Master of Hyperbole and distortion. (unless it's true)

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