written by Dayna Abel
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
I’ve roused myself from my sickbed (type A influenza; kids, get your flu shots) to Say Some Things about what an utter failure this entire storyline has been.
Supergirl has been presenting the Children of Liberty plot as a 1:1 allegory for racial tensions present in the modern U.S. and, unfortunately, it’s done it in a way that invalidates itself. Even setting aside metaphor, the Elite are presented as a reaction to xenophobic aggressions that have already escalated to murder. “Stand and Deliver” positions Kara as a why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along centrist between two groups hellbent on killing the other, but she’s also symbolic as the Aryan ideal, the “good” immigrant who looks and sounds like “us” (i.e. white and blonde) and assimilates into American society. And yet Brainiac 5 still has to use an image inducer to walk around. J’onn still wears Hank Henshaw’s face on a daily basis. It’s easy to listen to the strong white woman. Maybe they think she’ll speak to the manager for them or something.
As an allegory, this is even worse because if the Elite are supposed to represent “antifa” – a term I’ll get into in a second – then it’s the right’s nightmarish version of them, a group who both can and will kill “real” Americans.
“Antifa” isn’t a thing. It’s a buzzword, an easy label to make the left sound like a militarized group, something the right can comprehend. Yes, there are groups who have embraced the label. It’s still bullshit. It’s short for “anti-fascist”, first of all, which is something hard to argue with as a belief. But what the right and the media – and our fictional television representatives – fail to impress on others is that anti-fascist is supposed to be a default setting. Fascists, Nazis, the alt-right, anything-gate, the Children of Liberty…they are the outliers. There are fascists, and then there are normal people.
Antifa are not so much reactionaries (although we are that) as we are everyone who isn’t a goddamn bigot.
The Elite are a poor metaphor for antifa because in reality, we are not the group with the body count. We are not the Elite. We will punch the living shit out of Richard Spencer, we will deplatform Milo Yiannopolous into poverty, and we will protest the machinations of Donald Trump and his cronies, but we are not the side who shoot and kill members of black churches and mosques. We are not the side who murdered Heather Heyer. We are not the side putting children in cages to die.
Both sides are not equal. Centrism is not a solution. The Elite are a bad metaphor, and this storyline fails its viewers on multiple levels.
Supergirl airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Dayna can be found on Twitter @queenanthai.