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The Flash Fandom Speaks: Don’t Mess with Barry Allen’s Comic Book Love Life

Earlier this evening, a Ship Wars post for The Flash went out with a poll attached to it and the Talk Nerdy With Us writing staff sat back and watched as the comments rolled in both on the site and on Twitter.

What’s the verdict? A very resounding “LEAVE BARRY ALLEN’S COMIC BOOK (canon) LOVE LIFE ALONE.”

Some comments have been well-written and profound while others have been much more nasty and negative, trying to engage other readers and the writers in ‘discussion’ of Caitlin Snow being included in the poll because of her race rather than any other reason. Accusations of bias stating that WestAllen was the only ship described negatively in the article.

So, what is it about ships that make normally rational fans become so toxic? Is it passion or venom?

Tell us in the comments below!

Written by Erica Schaaf

Erica is a former social worker and mother of three who has been writing since she was a child. She currently writes fanfiction for the Veronica Mars and The 100 fandoms and is published on Kindle Worlds as well as fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. She hopes to one day have the chance to be a fly on the wall on set of her fave shows while filming!

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  1. It’s the fact that many fans have been trying to erase Iris West’s importance to the story since the moment Candice Patton was cast, long before an episode of the show aired. The Flash fandom has gone through many variations of “I’m not racist, but Iris should be a redhead,” or posts like this one that suggest Caitlin is the ‘real’ Iris: http://awesomesnowbarry.tumblr.com/post/118135563747/same-person-different-name-same-destiny-i-hope

    And many people who ARE genuinely uncomfortable with the idea of Barry being in love with a black Iris West have used the “they’re like brother and sister” against them, or otherwise tried to discredit Iris by saying she’s selfish/a bad friend/has no chemistry with Grant despite being cast on the strength of their chemistry test/etc.

    There’s also been articles written by media outlets that neglect to mention Iris and Candice at all, and offer Caitlin as Barry’s actual (and only) love interest, when that is clearly not the case: http://www.askmen.com/recess/fun_lists/hottest-actresses-on-tv/danielle-panabaker-the-flash.html

    • That being said, I don’t recall anyone mentioning race in the previous comments. But I just thought you should know that we’re not just fans jumping at the chance to criticize. It’s been over a year of Candice/Iris getting the brunt of negative criticism from the media and fans having to prove their numbers for media outlets to acknowledge Iris as worthy of attention or praise in the first place instead of asking Candice in interviews if she’s aware how much fans hate her.

      • Thank you, Emily! Your comments are a fantastic example of well-written and profound. I’ve been watching since day one but wasn’t aware of all the ins and outs of the show or comic book fandom. I love Iris. I love Candice. Iris and Barry as well as Candice and Grant DO have some amazing chemistry.

        I think the only reason the ‘con’ of a ‘sibling-like’relationship was brought up in the article was because it is often brought up among fans, particularly fans who are shippers and show watchers only, many of whom know nothing about the comic.

        Race was brought up in one of the comments on the Ship Wars post or I NEVER would have brought it up here. It was a question in the comment as to whether Caitlin being white was why she was brought into the poll at all. The answer to that is “No.” SnowBarry is a very popular ship whether it’s canon or not. THAT is why it was in the poll. No other reason than that.

        Personally, I would LOVE to get the chance to interview Candice and ask her all kinds of questions that have nothing to do with fans hating her or anything else negative. She’s one of my favorite characters on the show. Her and Cisco, Barry, and Patty.

      • Hi Emily,

        We’re currently working on group/collective post to discuss WA/CP and we’d love to have you be a part of the discussion as a guest blogger for this post. Please email us if you’re interested at [email protected]

  2. ..there is no reason to include CS in a poll about Barry’s love life. ..what, are you including her because she’s a she??? Because she talks to him?

  3. ‘Nasty or negative’ how is it nasty or negative to point out that Barry and Iris description was negative in that it was written off as incestual?? Whereas the other ships never had such ‘cons’. Asking why Caitlin is included in the poll is a legitmate question, since that relationship has no basis in canon, neither has shown interest yet this is not a con. Also no where in Barry/Iris description does it mention how they love each other. I think we have every right to comment, don’t know why it is seen as toxic we were not the ones to dismiss an iconic relationship as incestual.

    • I don’t believe that WestAllen was being ‘written off’ as incestual. The Ship Wars post was saying what fans in general who are against WestAllen have said is a supposed ‘con’ of the relationship.

      The genuine questions in the comments on the other post weren’t what I was referring to as nasty or negative. It could honestly be that the nasty/negative ones were in my inbox and not approved to be posted on the site. I’m not sure. Regardless, there were definitely nasty/negative comments that were made whether they managed to get posted or not. I apologize if I was hasty in thinking that they had been approved to be posted and were not.

      As I said in the other comment, Caitlin was included in the poll because SnowBarry, canon or not, is a very popular ship.

      • So now its the fans, ookay. Well I’ve seen lots of people say that they are against Caitlin/Barry because neither have shown any interest so that would have been good if that was included as a con. Also it would have also been nice if Barry and Iris love for each was acknowledged in their description. Again you obviously know people who say Barry/Iris relationship is incestual are wrong so again why include something that is just hateful??

        • I agree that the descriptions could have been done differently. The writer had no ill intentions in what she wrote and had no idea the response she would get. And this post was simply in response to the comments on that post as well as the responses on Twitter to it.

  4. This article is horrible, just horrible. I realize I need to article myself better but who an earth would quickly patch together an article like this and think it’s ok? I’m appalled. I’m a huge fan of The Flash, I’m white and I have seen the racism within the fandom, particularly from the fans who support Barry and Caitlin. So many different insistences across social media of racism against Candice Patton and Barry and Iris being an interracial couple and yet instead of an article being written about that or exploring why some fans believe there are race issues within the fandom, we get this hatchet article. Shameful. What an earth? Fandoms such as Damon and Elena, and Oliver and Felicity are overzealous and rather aggressive. They are never called out or have a shaming article written about them, and yet the INTERRACIAL PAIRING of the Flash has a shaming article written about them (and their concerns are actually valid). It’s interesting! Very interesting! And by interesting I mean ignorant.

    • Exactly! Olicity and Emily Bett Rickard fans, have DEFAMED Katie Cassidy and harassed people in the fandom. They harass Stephen Amell’s wife. Theyve tweeted the writers/creators of Arrow to kill off Laurel. At a comic con event, they tweeted false statements about Katie Cassidy. They’ve harassed members of the media, because Felicity was criticized. Where are the articles that call out their behavior? Why are we acting like this is the first time fandoms are “overzealous.”

    • I’m not white and I’ve seen the awfulness of the WA fandom on twitter where they accuse Grant of being racist, Danielle of being racist, accuse her of sleeping with Andrew Kreisberg and many other disgusting things.

  5. Some fans use the comic book excuse to force others to like what they like. I’m a comic book fan since I’m 8 and I like Snowbarry anyway, because I see the show and the comics as separated things. I don’t mind changes if the writers of the show come up with better stuff.

  6. This is not The Flash fandom. These are Iris West’s obsessed fans who think they are the only voice that should be heard. They are toxic and a cancer to the fandom.

    • The Iris West fandom’s voice should be heard. If they’re saying they feel something in the writing, treatment of Iris, or Snowbarry is racist, than people should listen. Why is it so difficult to listen?

      • I think what the poster meant is that this title is inaccurate, because the so-called “Flash fandom” referred to in this article is not the sentiment of the entire Flash fandom. The Flash fandom includes but is not limited to Iris fans.
        BTW, where does it say Iris fans’ shouldn’t be heard?

  7. I’m disappointed you chose such a great title for such an inflammatory, unfair, and accusatory post. I’m still hopeful you can re-purpose this title towards something more positive. This would be a great title for an article about how The Flash and WestAllen fans strive to protect the character of Iris West and her actress, Candice Patton, a woman of color playing a traditionally white character, from being erased from her own narrative. This pattern is seen consistently among women of color characters in television, especially if the woman is a potential love interest for the main, white male character.
    I also find it a little naive to title a poll “ship wars” than be surprised when people have strong reactions/opinions to which pairs are included. The “we don’t like Caitlin included for the sole reason that she’s white” claim is a particularly unfair and simplistic generalization of the issue since no one is similarly asking for Patty’s exclusion because she’s white. Patty and Barry are a cannon pairing on the show (and for a short time in the comics). So are Iris and Barry. Their love for each other (which was not expressed in their pairing description) provided the entire foundation for Season 1. While I personally can understand your reasoning for including Barry/Caitlin because it is a “popular (fan) pairing” (A Barry/Patty vs Barry/Iris poll wouldn’t be much of a contest or give your site hits), that doesn’t make Barry/Caitlin any more legitimate. The media continuing to consider this pairing as if it is legitimate/cannon on the show is an issue. Barry and Cisco have as much (if not more in my opinion) of a connection and Barry and Caitlin. His relationship with Caitlin is not special/different when considering his relationship with Cisco who he has known for the same amount of time. Barry has never expressed a desire to be anything more than just friends with Caitlin. I’m sure you’ve already received plenty of evidence regarding the history of the reasons behind Snowbarry’s popularity in relation Iris West being a woman of color and the comic importance of WestAllen. I hope you use that to write the article I suggested at the start of my post. That is an article I would love to read.

  8. Here’s the issue with the Snowbarry ship: it’s a ship that was created once news broke out that Candice Patton was playing Iris. It’s a ship that has foundation in racism. It’s a ship that’s extremely popular, despite the two characters having zero attraction to one another. It’s a ship that exists because the two characters “look better” together. It’s a ship where members of that ship have white-washed Candice, use photoshopped to flatten her nose, called her a n*gger, created fan theories that Caitlin is actually Iris because Caitlin looks like the comic book Iris. Do you understand the issue now? Yes, it may be a popular ship and people might have valid reasons for liking them, but the ship history is rooted in racism. As a WOC it pains me to see the media pander to the ship, despite there being no signs of an actual romance between the two, because if is Snowbarry is canon it’ll erase Iris West — who is played by a black woman — from the comic mythos. I understand the original poll was done for fun, but to a POC the outcome will look different.

    • I have a couple other comments to add. Once Iris West became a member of Team Flash, the Snowbarry fandom started using the term “Original Team Flash.” I checked Twitter myself, and the popularity of “OG Team Flash” didn’t exist until May (after Iris knew Barry’s secret). And “OG Team Flash” blatantly removes Joe from Team Flashe’s importance, and Cisco is included because he’s a MOC and is viewed as a non threat. The other glaring aspect is, Caitlin has a deeper history, connection, and shared interest with Cisco — why isn’t KillerVibe a popular ship? Why doesn’t the media point out their chemistry? They have GREAT chemistry. Where are the poll or countless articles that validates KillerVibe? Anyway, I hope you understand why fans were upset about the poll and this article. It’s not the ship we hate per say — actually there are some WestAllen fans who understand it — it’s the representation that’s bothersome; it’s the fact that they’re treated as a valid ship despite the cast obviously disliking it; despite the fact that the show CONTINUOUSLY states/shows that Barry is in love with Iris and no other woman; and finally it’s the fact that any ship that includes a white man/black woman (or vice versa) is constantly ignored or downplayed by the media. Actually I lied, my final point is: this article was written from a ship perspective, whereas the WestAllen fans are trying to discuss a representation issue. I’m alarmed that instead of listening and engaging in discussion over it, you would write such a negative post.

  9. Westallen fandom is the worst ever.
    They don’t allow you to have your opinion, they don’t really listen to anything you say, they don’t reason, they’re not able to talk civilly.
    They keep saying our ship is rooted in racism and they don’t really care if we say ‘Hell no! We’re not racists! It’s not about race, it’s about our idea of love’ cause they don’t wanna change their minds.
    They’re not open minded, too stuck with comics. But we’re not watching the comics, we’re watching a show based on them and it’s okay to explore new things, new relationships.
    They say we’re trying to erase Iris west’s importance to the story but, honestly, if they think she’s important only because of Westallen they’re the ones who underestimate her value as an independent and strong woman of color. I don’t see how shipping Snowbarry rather than Westallen, is a try to erase a character. She can have her storyline, Westallen or not Westallen.
    Plus, I really wish the whole fandom could stop acting like poor victims because I haven’t ever seen anyone of my SB friends insulting Candice/Iris. I’m sure ignorant people insulted and harassed her because of her color skin, but that doesn’t mean they were Snowbarry shippers.
    It’s time to debunk the myth about SB being a racist fandom. We’re not. I don’t know how many times I have to say it.
    Certainly the Westallen fandom is not made by angels, considering that everyday they send a lot of hate to Danielle, Grant and everyone who ships Snowbarry. Before accusing us of racism, think about your behaviors. I will define it ‘bullying’.

    • Debunk?! What are you even talking about? If you go ask any WestAllen fan for proof of racism among the SnowBarry fandom, they will give you countless amount of proof. THE FIRST COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE HAS PROOF. Go look at the comments on Grant’s photo with Iris and Barry, you’ll see the racism right there. The racism in your fandom made the flash fandom toxic.

  10. I loved that included Caitlin for my taste think it has very good chemistry with Barry and do not consider myself a racist, and one of my favorite characters is Caitlin Snow will always be good and bad reviews, but a bad one can not judge others must learn to like and respect the opinions of others.

  11. It is a shame that this article portrayed solely westallen shippers as being toxic when i fact snowbarry shippers are equally toxic as them.

  12. For example I think it is very toxic to try to make Candice Patton change her bio because it has west-allen included in it

  13. I feel iris is a great character and I love Candice P. I just grew to love Snowbarry throughout season one. To me the chemistry is natural and just evident. Dismissing my viewpoint or calling me names sucks. I dont do that to WestAllen.

  14. When are people going to realize that people are going to ship who they want to ship? No WA shipper is going to change my mind, they can come up with all the excuses they want. Oliver was supposed to be with Laurel too and look what happened. These shows don’t follow the comics to a T at all. And if The Flash is based on the New 52 then… I got news for you… Lisa Snart ends up with Barry 🙂

  15. Some you are so single minded. I’m a mixed race individual who prefers snowbarry. Not because caitlin is white, but because I see potential in them, their friendship has been growing and there’s from my perspective a lot of chemistry between them. No matter how it is in the comics, in the show iris treats Barry more like a brother, she shows no feelings of love or romance towards him. In fact she is clueless that he loves her. Have you forgotten? That’s why the they’re like siblings argument is brought up, it may not hold up but its not completely invalid and anyone who uses the argument isn’t automatically a RACIST! nor if they dislike iris in general, she was annoying most of the times in season 1, especially with the way she handled Barry’s confession of love. Barry has brought out the best in Caitlin, helped her get through ronnies death, they have fun, and rely on each other. She is the sweetest character on the show (will be so sad if our version of Dr snow turns into killer frost). Barry and Caitlin deserve each other. So please, don’t be single minded and shove all snowbarry (or olicity, delana etc) shippers under the same umbrella.

  16. The really interesting viewing is simply to birdwatch DC’s and American media in general play out their racism as a study in intersectionality.

    Then we can be thoroughly entertained and fully appreciate their never ending fight against the portrayal of black men as sexually desirable. An alluring black woman is a given trope in modern mainstream entertainment media especially sci/fi.

    Another given is that she naturally finds her love interest in a man of another race.

    Any black man is, of course, a sideliner. Older, fat, defective, conveniently married off, or unsuited for some other perfectly innocent reason.

    Current entertainment media is directed by racial sexists who crave black women and fear black men.

    Oh well, I suppose it’s a step forward from all black men being crooks or pimps and all black women being maids or prostitutes.

    Still, I look forward to the time when TV allows black men and women to have relationships with one another aside from slapstick sitcoms.

    • This article is disappointing. I’m a Snowbarry shipper but it’s totally fine with me if Barry ends up with Iris. I get that some snowbarry fans can ba a bit too serious and hateful but I hate the part where the writer didn’t show how some westallen fans can be a bit negative too. The title is also misleading. It should not have written Flash Fandom if it was from the perspective of someone from the Westallen side. I’m not racist and I actually didn’t know the flash until it first aired. I just felt their chemistry from the moment Caitlin started touching Barry after the whole “Lightning gave me abs?” part. Your article may have used the words “some snowbarry fans” to adress our fandom but was directing your point as if all of us had the same reasons. I also understand that some don’t want to ruin the comics and I get that they were really good and it would be quite disappointing to have a different ending, it would be fine with some of us too but this is a different thing. The TV show has a lot of differences with the comics already and sometimes (in my opinion) westallen is forced. Many fans even westallen shippers that I saw on youtube and twitter noticed that in the second season Caitlin and Barry didn’t have as much interaction, probably because there was too much chemistry that they weren’t supposed to showcase and they were afraid to ruin the comic plot. Like they were slowly trying to get people to get off the snowbarry ship because it was overshadowing the supposed ship for the show. But we have to admit that it kind of put less dynamic to the show and some of the episodes just became fillers. What I’m trying to say is that let’s not be afraid to add a little snowbarry. I mean why should we be afraid to showcase it if it could make the show better? Jn the comics westallen was really great but in the show it could be different? right? All I’m saying is that it’s ok if Snowbarry isn’t endgame (snowbarry fans aren’t counting on it anyways) but it’s worth a shot. Right? (and I hope the writers won’t try and seperate barry and caitlin just because they’re not supposed to be shipped. Give us back their season 1 type of moments not just because of 1×19 and 1×12 but all the other genuine moments when they sparked without even trying)

  17. It is really funny how we as human beings make everything to be centered around racism.The Flash is where it is today because of the hard work the cast and their crew have put in.Candice Patton is a fantastic actress and she deserves the role she plays as Iris West-that is the reason why we see her playing that role anyway! I love the flash and all of it charecters,irrespective of their skin pigment.There will always be tension amongst White and black people and i’m sure we all know that but let us put that aside and just enjoy the show.The Flash was made for us to be entertained and inspired,irrespective of our race.Danielle Panabaker plays Caitlin Snow because it suits her,Grant Gustin plays Barry Allen because it suits him and Candice Patton plays Iris West because it suits her and there is honestly nothing wrong with this.Candice Patton and Grant Gustin make The Flash to be both entertaining and inspiring!
    #WestAllen

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