I don’t apologize often. It’s not something that is “on brand” for someone like me. But after the most recent kerfuffle with Ruby Rose, I’m willing to break tradition. Here is a tepid apology to Ruby Rose.
When the CW announced that they would be doing a Batwoman live-action appearance, I was cautiously optimistic. I’m not a huge fan of the CW DC-verse as overly-gritty is not my style. I think they’re fine, but just not my cup of tea; I demand more boxing-glove arrow. For Batwoman, maybe it’ll work. Maybe it’d be fine. I was waiting and willing to be more open-minded upon the casting announcement.
We got that announcement not long ago.
Now, background that will be important to the rest of this semi-flaccid apology:
Batwoman is not Batgirl; she’s an intense crime-fighter with a very interesting history. For the sake of canon and continuity, we’re talking about is Cassandra Cain. Cain is…an interesting character. She’s openly a lesbian (which is important) and in that run is Jewish (also important). As a character, she’s really just a foil to Batman. Think of her almost like a female Red Hood (Jason Todd); she’s willing to go farther than The Bat often is, while also being more strict with The Bat Family values (which is where the comparison to Todd falls apart for a moment). Batwoman is immensely important to many comic book fans, especially those in the LGBT community as her relationships were always written well. She never had a predatory romance, and she was seldom queer-baited. She is important to the lesbian community within the ranks of comic book fans.
Which now brings us to Ruby Rose. Rose is an actress, a lesbian, and a gender non-binary person. Rose is most famous for her role in Orange is the New Black, and recently in the John Wick franchise and The Meg (I wish I was kidding). Ruby Rose for sure has a look. She’s what we’d assume the average edgy lesbian looks like (thanks, coding). When it was announced that Rose would be the new Batwoman…well, let’s just say there were thoughts.
Personally, I’m not crazy about the choice and here’s why: I cannot place Rose in any role that to me makes me think “Wow, there’s my Batwoman right there.” That isn’t entirely a negative. Plenty of television shows have surprised me, but I wasn’t thrilled about this casting choice.
I was not alone.
The internet erupted in conflama over it. While at first this is going to look like a re-tread of the Kelly Marie Tran incident, things are different with Ruby Rose. A majority of the criticism came from the LGBT community. Many citing that Rose’s acting history was…mixed. Additionally, many lesbian women were concerned that Rose was a “safe” choice; a point that I do agree with. Rose’s look continues to perpetuate that there are two ways to be a lesbian: a butch or a lipstick. Many expressed concerns about Cain not be portrayed as Jewish as she is in the comics. The bulk of the criticism came from members of the LGBT community and was almost always done respectfully. To me, it was summed up in a tweet shared by a friend:
“Normally when we have a lesbian character, we get an actress. We’d like a lesbian actress. This time, we just got a lesbian.”
None of that was directed at Ruby Rose. None of it was hateful, and almost all of it was from the people who her role attempts to represent. Representation is important and people in that group have every right to be critical of the media that represents them. If Ruby Rose is someone’s introduction into lesbianism thanks to popular culture, lesbian women have every right to be critical of that choice.
But in that tide, many people who were sexist, homophobic, or just wrong used that wave to hide and launch a sneak attack. Many saying Rose isn’t “lesbian enough” (which isn’t true) or that they simply didn’t like the idea of a superhero being gay.
And it is for opening that door to the monsters that lurk in the shadows, I apologize.
I never in my criticism of this wanted to attack or hurt Ruby Rose. I am one concerned member of the LGBT community who loves comic books more than I love some people. And if my criticism provided a cover for people to be cruel, that is never my intention.
So to Ruby Rose, I am sorry.
I am willing to give you a chance.
I have my reservations, but I am willing to try. It is not my job to take away someone’s joy and there are so many who are thrilled to have a lesbian superhero come to life.
I will watch your show. I will try. And I am sorry you left social media.
I will never stop being critical of the media and the choices around me, but I do promise, however, that I will always do so respectfully.
About The Prince of Unpopular Opinions:
Greetings, hello and salutations. Things look just a little different around here, don’t they? When I was offered the chance to have my very own column for FanGirl Nation, I naturally couldn’t pass up the chance. I love writing with and for these very talented ladies and thus I present to you all, my new column: The Prince of Unpopular Opinions.
Now, some clarification: I don’t really do the gender binary and I use male nouns a great deal in writing and in my human life; hence why I am a “prince” rather than a “princess”. If this is of issue to you, I can invite you down to discuss this matter or I can simply show you one of my kingdom’s many fine doors.
This name sort of came to me. If you follow me anywhere on social media, it’s a tagline you’ve seen me use before. It’s very on brand and not simply because I am a contrarian. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I am, in fact, a lover of many things: and the chief among them is strong storytelling, adherence to canon (unless otherwise specified) and admitting that nothing is perfect. And it is due to those tenants that I am often one of the more cynical voices out of the group: I don’t take that negatively. I rip apart the things I love the most. I am most critical of the things that mean the most to me because you have to be. And it is with those things in mind that I build my little kingdom within the greater community of FanGirl Nation.
Look forward to thoughtful discussions on framing, gender roles, deviations from canon and tactful conversations about criticism, fan culture, cosplay culture and more. You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AichiYumeProductions/.