Not gay enough, not Jewish enough? Ruby Rose is still an interesting choice to play Batwoman

Successful franchises have cast lesser-known actors in prominent and fan-favorite roles time and again - most recent being Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman - to churn out blockbusters.


                            Not gay enough, not Jewish enough? Ruby Rose is still an interesting choice to play Batwoman

Unless you are living under a rock, you would know that Ruby Rose has quit Twitter. While it is not rare or unheard of for celebrities to shut down their social media profiles despite millions worth fan-following, the reason behind the Australian actress deleting her page is plain sad, disappointing and indicative of the underlying culture of bullying in Hollywood. It all began last week when The CW broke the news about Rose playing the first lesbian superhero, Batwoman, to headline a series of her own on the network.

As it's understood, the plan was to introduce the iconic Batverse character during the annual crossover event of the network's four popular DC shows — 'The Flash,' 'Arrow,' 'Legends of Tomorrow,' and 'Supergirl.' In addition to a debut in the Arrowverse in December, a solo series starring Rose, an openly lesbian actress, as the Kate Kane alter ego was also reported to be under consideration. What started out as a step forward in the direction of representation, unfortunately, soon turned into a social media brouhaha with fans and people from all sections jumping into the debate on whether or not Rose is the right fit for Batwoman. 

Ruby Rose will debut as Batwoman in December's Arrowverse event (Getty/DC)
Ruby Rose will debut as Batwoman in December's Arrowverse event (Getty/DC)

 

Oddly enough, the reasons highlighted had more to do with the 32-year-old actress' ethnic and sexual leaning (although, some dutiful Bat-comics-loyalists, in the garb of honest opinion, also stressed about her apparent lack of acting chops). Not gay enough, not Jewish enough, and allegedly not a good enough actress to portray a character, whose comics background at least, boasts of breaking through the ceiling of stereotypes.   

Kate Kane, the alias assumed by most iterations of the crime-fighting Batwoman, has quite an intriguing history herself. In the comics book literature, Kate or Katherine, in fact, is mostly portrayed as a wealthy heiress inspired by the ways of Batman. Like him, even all her resources and wealth is dedicated towards the protection of Gotham in the true spirits of a masked vigilante. Originally created by writer Edmond Hamilton and artist Sheldon Moldoff, Batwoman, however, was discontinued for a long stretch of a period only to be reintroduced in 2006 in a modern version that most 90s fans have come to love.

 



In her new avatar, not only is the vigilante portrayed has Jewish lineage but is also an openly LGBT hero, coming to the rescue of Gotham city dwellers in Batman's absence. Now, superhero fandoms (or even the followers of the galaxy far far away) and their obsession with representation to a tee is nothing new. Past experiences have even seen actors and top cast members being driven out of social media over the barrage of harsh criticism and vile online trolls (for instance the case with  'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' actress Kelly Marie Tran or Marvel's 'Iron Fist' actor Finn Jones).

 



In Rose's case, though, the backlash is skewed towards the politics of representation.

One earnest user, expressing his opinion writes, "Hey @TheCW the people #Batwoman is for want and support Ashley Platz. She’s a fantastic actress who became Kate in that audition. She’s done stunt work, she’s got the look, she’s absolutely perfect. So #RecastBatwoman because Kate Kane is NOT a popularity contest. (sic)"

"Ruby is great... But she is not the only queer actress out there. I am very disappointed with this news, I was looking forward to a fresh face representing #Batwoman... Ashley Platz’s aud was she’s a yoga instructor, could probably kick everyone’s ass anyway #RecastBatwoman," chimed in another. 



 

The argument, as it seems, is about representation. Not just surrounding Batwoman's sexual orientation but also over her ethnic and religious background. In the truest and most literal sense then, the ideal choice for this DC superhero would be a Jewish lesbian actress. Nothing less, nothing more. But isn't this where the textbook-centric argument clouds the purpose or the achievement that The CW might have attained by ticking at least one checkbox. 

Truth is there aren't many openly gay actors, and the stringent in Hollywood doesn't really make it conducive to a relaxed atmosphere for the LGBTQ community in the industry. Keeping all these dynamics in mind, the outrage against Rose or using her gender-fluidity as a barometer to determine her gayness is as cruel as casting a white, straight actor in an LGBT role.

If we are to learn anything from the quite justifiable criticism against Jack Whitehall's casting in Disney's first openly gay character, it is that stereotypes run both ways. And this is just the queer part of the argument. There is an increasingly disturbing debate that Rose - whose acting credits include notable TV series like Jenji Kohan's Netflix drama 'Orange is the New Black' and the more recent commercial boom, 'The Meg, opposite action vet Jason Statham - might not have the required thespian skills to play Batwoman. 

Ruby Rose attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City.
Ruby Rose attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City.

 

Really, Academy award-worthy acting chops? For superhero crossover?

Time and again, successful franchises and studios have cast lesser-known actors in prominent and cult-favorite roles to prove that no artist is a born superstar (unless it's Tom Cruise). After all, there was a similar hullabaloo when Israeli actress and beauty pageant winner Gal Gadot was chosen to fill in the iconic shoes of Wonder Woman - director Patty Jenkins is a self-confessed critic, who had even admitted that her "heart sank" with the news. 

"Then I started paying attention to her, and watching her and looking at her and it was just unbelievable," Jenkins said later on. "Frankly, I think they did a better job than I could have because I don't know that I would have scoured the earth as hard to find her."

There's a reason why fan-favorite roles - especially superhero icons and comic book legends - are mostly bestowed upon a fresh face. They bring their unique characteristics, on-screen charm, and trademark style to the role, differentiating it from the books and making them memorable in the process. From Heath Ledger's unforgettable rendition of the Joker to Hugh Jackman's time as Logan/Wolverine (both of whom were subjected to misguided criticism), the casting controversy continues, regardless of the futility. 

 

When Batwoman was cast, an evidently emotional Rose had said, "This is something I would have died to have seen on TV when I was a young member of the LGBT community who never felt represented on tv and felt alone and different." Unfortunately, she had to bow out of the excitement early. 

On a parting note, amidst all the backlash, she left fandoms and critics with something to muse over, writing, "When women and minorities join forces we are unstoppable. When we tear each other down, it’s much more hurtful than from any group.”