|Pictured: a media producer's worst nightmare|
In the process, engaged viewers may find themselves in the same uncomfortable space I did: agreeing far more with the villains than the ostensible heroes.
But, perhaps such a strange reversal is not so bad after all. We live in a science fiction age. It is an age when heroes and villains are constructed by a corporate media and an oligarchic government in the pocket of the 1% and a whole host of [public service]-industrial complexes. In such an age, those suspicious of unfettered capitalist excess, wars of choice taking place both abroad and at home, a decade-long crackdown on free speech, constant threat of extrajudicial monitoring by the government--those suspicious, in short, of the system and the heroes and villains that system constructs--might do to take on the role of the Supervillain.
Yes, I think it's well time for the villains of Arrow--the villains of this strange sci-fi word--to speak their peace.
The stock character of the Corrupt or Hypocritical Revolutionary exists and is popular because it strokes and manipulates the egos of those who consider themselves nearly alone in political insight. It allows viewers to smugly say, "I knew he couldn't be trusted!" with the elation that comes of having your prejudices confirmed and the satisfaction of having your unique insight praised.
The possibility that Oliver should have to atone for the blood staining the money that he still makes use of to enjoy himself is never truly raised in any kind of sustained and honest way. Consider:
Oliver's attempt to make reparations in the form of a benefit is interrupted by his need to track down and bring to justice a bunch of copycat vigilantes enraged enough by the destruction of their families, homes, and lives that they took the radical step of... doing exactly what Arrow did all last season, forcing him to miss his own benefit.
|But like, "Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children"-era Mushroomhead. After J Mann left.|
Make no mistake: any choices in this show are 100% the result of the choices of the writers. Not the characters, not the demands of the comics, just the writers. They are solely responsible for the movement of the plot.
So, by positioning Brother Blood as a corrupt advocate for the poor, they have chosen to undermine the need for political and legal action in the face of an atrocity committed against American citizens.
But there is, in fact, a point to all this positioning, just as there is a point to making Moira Queen a tragic figure, transforming her court case (where she is on trial, remember, for aiding and abetting the creation of a doomsday device that killed 503 people!) into a soap opera drama that has far more significance to the relationships between Ollie, his sister, his mother, and his ex-fiance who acts as prosecutor in the case (because that's not a conflict of interest at all!) than it does to any given member of the public who suffered after the attack.
What the different treatment of Brother Blood--responsible for the deaths of like... 30 people, tops?--and Moira Queen--responsible for the deaths of 503 people--reveals is that this is not a show with an overarching sense of morality.
No, this is a show with an Oliver Queen-centric morality.
Everything happens in relation to Ollie's feelings. He does not trust Blood and feels wronged by him, so Blood is untrustworthy and ultimately revealed to be a villain (called the devil himself by his own mother, in case they weren't obvious enough!). He feels bad about his mother being in prison, so it is wrong that she is in prison, and everyone else (most notably his fiance) acts like the trial of Moira is a travesty. This trial for mass murder. He decides to stop killing people, so as soon as vigilantes appear copying his tactics and assassinating people, they are treated in the narrative as villains, and the fact that he deigns to let them live is treated as a significant character progression.
The morality in the show comes entirely from one man, who is strong, violent, and certainly wealthy enough to make the proper choices for everyone else, and the narrative warps around him as the fabric of space warps around a superdense object.
And in the process, Brother Blood can do nothing else but become the villain... and neither can the masses of displaced, who we see only in moments of protest, only in moments of violence.
For Ollie Queen never walks among the people to see their suffering and thus it is intangible to us, unlike the suffering of Moira Queen. Ollie is a black hole, a superdense moral pole that shifts all light away from the dark matter of the 99% onto himself.
To challenge the way the narrative arbitrarily dictates villainhood for Brother Blood, as our corporate media dictates villainhood for people like Chelsea Manning, like Edward Snowden, like the protesters of Occupy, is to try the superhuman feat of escaping the pull of this black hole, to escape the seductive power of a hero to which all other narratives must bow.
But perhaps you are not yet convinced! No matter. Brother Blood is not the only villain in my Cadre of Evil!
My Consortium of Nastiness!
And next week this... Murderclan of... Assholes... will break you down. You will join us.
Or you will die.
NEXT WEEK ON THE ARROW SHOW: LIBERAL FROM A DISTANCE PART TWO: MARX MY WORDS:
The dread Penstroke the Terminator sets two more villains on our hero! Can the dogmatic desire to ignore the subtext of media withstand this seemingly relentless assault?! Tune in to find out!
And it's so easy when you're eeeevil! Follow stormingtheivory.tumblr.com for updates, random thoughts, artwork, and news about articles. As always, you can e-mail me at KeeperofManyNames@gmail.com. Circle me on Google+ at gplus.to/SamKeeper. If you liked this piece please share it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Equestria Daily, Xanga, MySpace, or whathaveyou, and leave some thoughts in the comments below.