There’s no hiding the fact that Twitter is one of the most powerful social media tools in the world. You can express an opinion and have it shared a hundred times within minutes. But despite the fact that you will come across some seriously thought-provoking pieces, that’s only after you–excuse my French–sift through piles of shit.
It’s a lot easier to hate than it is to love. That may not be scientifically proven, but it seems to be a common fact in life. It’s so incredibly easy to nitpick at things you personally don’t like, and criticise the hell out of them. And to be frank, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. What someone likes does not equate to what somebody else likes. I actually thought The Defenders was pretty average, but I adored Colleen Wing, and I watched quite a few episodes for her.
However, there’s a difference between spewing nonsensical hate for the sake of it, and criticising something legitimately for a reason. To further argue that point, even if you did have a legitimate reason, there’s a way to word it. I’m not saying you need to be uber-sensitive to all the special souls out there. I’m saying that just because writers can hide behind Internet screens, there is absolutely no excuse or justification for shitting vitriol that can truly hurt people. Would you do it to someone face-to-face? Would you really have the guts?
Nah, I didn’t think so. That’s why laptops and computers were invented, right?
I realise this is a massive generalisation. Maybe, in fact, you really are insensitive enough to deliberately set out to hurt other people’s feelings because they don’t agree with your opinion. Maybe you are the kind of person who has a negative opinion–which is perfectly okay!–and then force that opinion onto others. And if they don’t comply or fall into line with your opinion, it’s laughable because obviously, you’re in the right.
What a load of bullshit.
The most recent and easy to talk about issue is Detective Maggie Sawyer, from The CW’s increasingly drab Supergirl. It’s a testament I still doze through the hour of the show, but Chyler Leigh’s Alex Danvers is always a soft spot for me, and I do actually really like Odette Annable. Like, to a point where, as much as I think Melissa Benoist is adorable, I hope Reign kicks her ass.
I want to break down, very simply, why Maggie Sawyer of all people has been such a divisive character. I also want to make a disclaimer: by no means will this article cover every issue. And by no means will I hope to be a voice for the Latinx community. Listen: I know what it’s like to be misrepresented. I know what it’s like to have an American bloke cast as a Chinese character; I know what it’s like to have Chinese characters stereotyped as martial arts geniuses who can’t fight for shit, for some reason. I know the importance of representation and the lack of it. What I will not speak out for, as a voice of authority, is the issue of Latinx representation on the show (from Floriana Lima’s Maggie) because it’s not my place. However, I cannot ignore it. In a way, I find that even worse of a crime.
So without further ado, let’s break down why Maggie’s been so divisive.
“Floriana Lima is not Latina, yet the show implies that she is.”
Before I write anything: I don’t know if this is true or not. I’m really unfamiliar with Ms. Lima; I admire her highly for her nuanced performance, and she honestly seems like a really genuine person. But that’s the extent of it.
I refuse to argue on this one because I agree with the case in point. I think it’s perfectly valid for a viewer to be angry about this. Personally, I am unfamiliar with Ms. Lima’s ethnic background, therefore I cannot be one to judge. I would not want to, either. Why? Because it’s not my place. It’s disrespectful of me–it truly is. If someone were to critique a casting of the brilliant Constance Wu as a, let’s say, Korean woman–then I’d probably have some objections.
My point here is that having a negative opinion about this isn’t a bad thing.
What’s really douchey here is when someone projects this opinion and essentially invalidates everyone else’s opinion, because they are either Latina themselves, or because they truly think they are correct and everyone’s wrong. The fact of the matter is, if Floriana Lima is not Latina, then she is not Latina. That should really be the end of it, if you are over fourteen years old and you see the sunlight every now and then.
But what do you think putting others down for their admiration of Lima’s portrayal will do? Let’s say Lima really isn’t even an inch Latina (I admit I have no idea–so I apologise if I make an error here, truly). Someone comes along and eagerly says: “I love Maggie! When I was a kid, I was kicked out by my dad, but look at where Maggie is now. She’s a brilliant Detective, and even Alex Danvers has fallen in love with her. She is successful, and she has made something out of her life. God, I want to be like her. She inspires me. Maybe she had a rough past, but I feel like she represents me. She was an unwanted kid because of her sexuality, but she’s proven that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Hold up a second though, kiddo. Floriana Lima is not of the ethnicity a single blogger on the Internet desires! Throw your stupid ambitions out of the window and forget the fact that Maggie was independent enough to fend for herself against her homophobic father. Forget the fact that Maggie’s made a successful career for herself. Forget the fact that Maggie regularly kicks ass. Forget the fact that she fell deeply in love. Forget all of that. You know why? Because she’s not the Latinx representation people want.
Oh, I know it’s a valid point. It’s a brilliant point! Just don’t forget that it’s been written with such hatred and vitriol and mockery that you will feel shit about liking Maggie Sawyer as a character, because as much as someone can deny it, if you read something as vicious and undiplomatic as that, you have no option but to conform to someone else’s opinion.
Remember. Freedom of speech is rife on the Internet, so you cannot blame them. You cannot say they are wrong. Any writer is allowed to write…anything. Even if it is hate; even if it makes you feel like absolute crap for idolising or enjoying a character. That’s the ugliness of the Internet. Sometimes, it’s like a reassuring hand on the shoulder, telling you it’s okay to like what you like. Other times, it’s some person behind a computer screen telling you you’re a racist piece of shit because you’re willing to ignore the fact that Maggie Sawyer in the form of Floriana Lima is not Latinx representation.
Listen, Lima’s depiction of Maggie Sawyer may not represent you, and that is perfectly valid. I have the utmost respect for that. I also respect that because I am not Latina, but Cantonese, that I don’t have much of a say in this. But don’t assume–and it has been assumed–that I don’t know the difference between skin colour and ethnicity. If you honestly think that then am I supposed to assume Homer Simpson is a Chinese bloke because his skin’s yellow? Hm?
The irony is, my argument is that because Lima does not represent Latina viewers (and I refuse to generalise this to ALL Latina viewers, because guess what, a Latina journalist does not speak for every single Latina viewer–that’s just fucking stupid) it does not mean she doesn’t represent a plethora of other things. Homosexuality. Being kicked out when young. Being a successful cop despite her hardships. Being uncomfortable with a past she is not proud of. A lot of people can relate to this, and just because they relate to it, it does not mean they discount her ethnicity and the problem some fans justifiably have with it.
The point is, you may have a problem with her Latinx misrepresentation, and someone else may have a problem with [X], but the arrogance and the inconsiderate nature of telling people that her representation–and when you simply use the term ‘representation’ you imply that across ALL AREAS–is haughty, ignorant and really, really fucking embarrassing.
It’s how you choose to process it. I never ignore the fact that as a Cantonese writer, we get zero representation. Even more irritatingly, people seem to think Hong Kong is the equivalent of China, and expect me to speak Mandarin. And even worse, representation of Mainland Chinese characters seems to be worthy enough to be classed as Cantonese representation (it really fucking isn’t) and nine times out of ten, they are the ninja warriors leaping out of the woods in the dark.
I mean for fuck’s sake, that’s Japanese.
“Maggie is not good enough for Alex, because she rejected Alex until she decided she actually fancied her a few episodes later.”
I’m being very diplomatic in this write-up, because actually, if you watch the scene, I can truly tell where people are getting this image from. And to be honest, television is fiction, and fiction is meant for interpretation. What one character says could mean a bucket-load of different things for different people. Personally, the most helpful way I get to the bottom of all of this is list the facts I know for sure, and then make a judgement. Thus far, I have:
- Maggie never lead Alex on. Maggie was a source of encouragement because she’d been through the coming out process, just as Alex was going through it. Throughout this, Maggie dated other women, and made no effort to hide it. Alex knew full well that Maggie had girlfriend(s), and Maggie never denied it. It’s also a point to stop treating Alex like a naive fool just because she’s only just coming to terms with her sexuality. Both women knew where they stood with each other.
- Alex has always been attracted to Maggie…but it doesn’t mean she acted on it. This is kinda self-explanatory, and by no means am I suggesting Alex should’ve thrown herself on Maggie. Again, she knew Maggie had a girlfriend. But the point is: Maggie never saw this. Look, Maggie’s attractive. Alex could’ve fancied her without fancying her. Okay, maybe that’s a push. But if Maggie had clocked on, bearing in mind their relationship did not simply consist of attraction but rather friendship and trust–would she not have backed down from her relationships? Would she not have respected Alex’s boundaries, knowing her friend–her best friend, likely–was going through a huge change in her life?
- Maggie rejected Alex. This is categorically true. There’s actually no way around buttering this up, so I won’t even try, and I suggest you don’t, either. But I’m talking about the manner of the rejection. Rejection is a harsh word, and it’s so harsh that often, people don’t think of the meaning behind it. You can reject someone because you don’t like them. You can reject a kiss ’cause their breath stinks. Or in this case, Maggie rejected Alex because only ten seconds ago, Alex confessed to coming out, yanked her by the arm, and then kissed her. In Alex’s mind, that’s a fucking romantic thing to do. It’s almost worthy of The Notebook. And I don’t blame her! When you have a naive, potsticker maniac of a sister telling you to go ‘get the girl’, you fucking do it! Except Kara Danvers is not the best source of love advice. Now think of it from Maggie’s point of view–which people don’t seem to fucking do. A gorgeous woman kisses her. Now Maggie’s aware this is the first kiss Alex has ever experienced with a woman. She’s also aware that Alex literally came out about 0.05seconds ago. For every reason she lists, such as her senses feeling heightened, etc, I cannot see that as malice. Maggie LITERALLY says “you should experience that for yourself, not just to be with me“. This has been the message Maggie has been trying to tell Alex all the fucking time. I’m literally saying all fucking season. Maybe Maggie at this point wanted to give into temptation and kiss Alex back, but what would that mean? Selfishness? Robbing Alex of the opportunity to kiss other girls and enjoy her life as a gay woman, because Maggie cannot bear the thought of Alex being with someone else? Rejection can feel harsh and heartbreaking, but come the fuck on. If for one moment Maggie Sawyer was being selfish in rejecting Alex, when it’s very clear she wanted to return the kiss–and she kinda confirms it in 2×08–then we are watching very different shows.
“Yo, Maggie Sawyer–what a complete dick. She essentially made Alex choose between a life with kids or her. What a selfish bint.”
OH, COME THE FUCK ON!
This is the only paragraph where I’m actually relieved I’m posting on a private blog and I have no PG-13 restrictions. This point is likely the most irritating point I’ve ever heard, and I hear it a lot. Now, I’d just want to make yet another disclaimer: I enjoy ‘Sanvers’. I really like Maggie, and I adore Alex Danvers. Together, I think they’re great. They communicate well (eventually) and they understand each other. I think as a ship, they’re pretty damn good, and in each other’s presence, you can tell they enjoy the other’s company. All that stuff is brilliant.
Then, and I’ll forgive this, in the space of about half an episode, Alex decided that she wanted kids…All her life. I’m going to be lenient and dismiss the fact that Alex has never breached this topic with Maggie (and I’d assume if you were gonna get married, this should’ve been something of a conversation…} but, whatever. It’s Supergirl. I really did not expect much continuity, so actually, I’ll let it pass.
What really, really rubs me up the wrong way is the implication that Maggie gave her some sort of ultimatum. Here’s what an ultimatum would be:
Maggie: “If you want kids, then I’m out. I don’t want you to have kids. If you love me, you will choose me. Choose me. Don’t choose kids, otherwise I’m walking out of here.”
Unless one of the writers slipped that into the script, no ultimatum was issued. However, kids isn’t some blase decision you can brush off. Remember, these women are in their thirties. It’s natural for Alex to want kids. Equally, it’s natural for Maggie to not want kids.
It actually starts by Alex lying to Maggie about the situation. If she’d been honest in the beginning, none of this would feel like an ‘ultimatum’. They would’ve had more time to discuss, perhaps hold off the wedding until they were sure, and actually talk things through instead of drinking, dancing and having raunchy break-up sex. But alas, they do the latter, because it’s Supergirl.
Not once does Maggie say to Alex that it’s her or the kids. In fact, she readily admits that she doesn’t want kids, and that all she needs as family is Alex. I fail to see the ultimatum there. All Maggie is literally saying is that she does not want kids. I’m sorry, but I don’t want kids, either. So when I tell my girlfriend that I don’t want kids, and then I find out she does, am I gonna be the asshole villain who offered her an ultimatum without knowing it?
Nobody is to blame here! If you honestly think a relationship will always consist of the same opinion because you’re so ~~perfect~~ together, then you really need to live in the real world. A topic as serious as kids is ninety percent of the time divisive. We’re not just talking picking a random kid off the street, buying some baby Timberlands and cooing over how cute the kid is. We’re talking late nights, incessant crying, peeing everywhere, nappy changing… And these are two mothers–one with a solid NCPD job, and the other risking her life everyday as a DEO agent. Did Supergirl think this through? In reality, would two women with such jobs want to raise a kid? It’s not really fucking sensible, is it? Or am I supposed to believe that one of them will retire? (Yeah, that’s jokes…)
Maggie not wanting kids, and Alex wanting kids, is a perfectly adult and responsible reason to break up. Granted, Alex’s broodiness came out of literally nowhere (oh come on, Ruby’s voice wasn’t that great) but it made sense. Especially for these two. Yes, it was obviously shoved in there because Lima was leaving the show, otherwise there would’ve been a much more believable build-up to the split and arguably it would’ve hurt a shit-ton more.
But enough waffling. Long story short: if you think Maggie offered Alex an ultimatum (an ultimatum would be Maggie saying, rather lamely, to Scorcher: “put it out or I’ll put you out”) then just…Google the term. Or consider reasons for thirty-somethings to break up, because I assure you, kids is a factor…Not an ultimatum. Jesus, it sounds like life or death, doesn’t it?
Lastly, and I doubt any of you think this way, but don’t feel bad if you want kids. Equally, don’t feel bad if you don’t want kids. I personally don’t want them little gremlins. Does that make me prone to giving a girlfriend an ultimatum?
No. No, it doesn’t.
“Maggie’s never been good enough. She didn’t tell Alex that she cheated on Emily. She made Valentine’s Day awful for her (for a while).”
Now that’s a long list of reasons–and if you make the right argument, I’d say you have a valid point. I really do. The problem is: arguments must go both ways. If you cannot listen and understand the other person’s point of view, you are not arguing/debating. You are, by definition, talking at someone rather than talking to someone about very valid issues!
When you write an article, especially an editorial style article like this, you have to acknowledge both sides of the argument. Otherwise you just become a hate piece (or an incessant love piece–depending on how you’re feeling–but it’s usually hate I see). Even if you feel strongly on a topic, your argument is childish, petty and pretty much pointless if you do not acknowledge the fact that other people feel differently. It only signifies your narrow-mindedness, and if your vision is that blinkered, I pity your view on the world. I really do. Because if you cannot recognise your wrongs and instead bitterly respond with insults and the refusal to be wrong, then how can you grow as a person, let alone as a writer?
Thinking about this, and a little surprised at the various criticisms Maggie Sawyer received (even though it seemed to be supported by about 2 likes on Twitter) I wondered what the audience thought. That is, the majority. Note that this does not target Maggie Sawyer fans, but rather fans of the show who have found any sort of inspiration in this character. I asked a very, very simple question, and I was astounded at the quickness of the answers that flooded in–and the eloquence, too.
Spurred on by posts and articles I’d seen about:
- The fact that fans didn’t want Maggie Sawyer back because she was not the Latinx representation they wanted
- They just didn’t like her around Alex (having said that: I’d boot Ruby off the show and replace her with Maggie anyday, but I think I just have a phobia of kids…)
- I’m not sure how to word this, but essentially I saw a few posts getting pissed off at the actress, Ms. Floriana Lima, for taking on a role meant for a Latina actress, speaking Spanish in 3×03, and ‘pretending’ to be of that culture when she wasn’t. This unsettled me and I stopped searching as avidly, because soon it grew into lots of personal attacks on the actress, and I think that’s awful. I don’t know much about Ms. Lima, but I am indeed a fan of her portrayal of Maggie, hence why I stopped searching there–it was very unsettling to me.
I asked on Twitter:
“Why does Maggie Sawyer matter to you? Is it something she said? Did? Represents? Why is she good rep for you, personally?”
And here are the varied, thoughtful responses:
So…Reading all of the above (and that’s not even all the responses)…Does that still mean Maggie Sawyer as representation doesn’t matter? What, to anyone?
Listen, dude, that’s not even the end of it. But clearly, in response to the notion that Maggie Sawyer’s representation “doesn’t matter”‘, well…it kind of does. Unless you think I spent my evening making spam accounts in order to formulate this post.
Disclaimer: I didn’t.
The point is, Maggie Sawyer didn’t matter to some people, and that’s fine.
Maggie Sawyer also mattered–a lot–to many people, and that’s also fine.
You know what’s not fine, though? Writing a shitty, insulting, invalidating put-down of why Maggie Sawyer is not good representation just because a group of people think so. I guess the other group who do think she’s good representation don’t count, then? I guess their reasons for admiring a character are complete bullshit because they do not match the standards set by an authoritative–wait–well, a blog?
Yeah… I didn’t think so.
Look, here’s the thing. Maggie Sawyer isn’t my favourite character on television. I really do like her and I think Floriana Lima does a brilliant job of playing the charming, dimpled detective. But if you wanna hate on her, then go ahead. If you wanna love her to pieces, go the fuck ahead.
I don’t really like telling people what to do. But if you’re someone who thinks it’s a good idea to sit behind a computer screen and dismiss people’s notions of representation and admiration for a fictional character, and completely dismiss the fact that they may have been inspired in real-life because of her–because news flash, that’s the way television is headed at the moment–then please, please stop. It’s hurtful to young fans and it’s unhealthy for people to form opinions they don’t believe in just because some ‘writer’ aggressively slagged off their favourite character.
Dislike who you want. Write a post about it! Reason it! Be critical! Be really critical! Justify what you say! But don’t boss other people about into your opinion.
Or conversely, like who you want. Ignore the people who try to convince you not to like X character. Don’t listen to people who try to invalidate your reasons for liking a character just because it doesn’t fit their agenda.
Freedom of speech, guys.
There should probably be something that’s like “freedom to not be a complete douchebag” too.