I have written several articles on postings related to Big Tech, Social Media and Corporations. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on these Industries.
Woke, as a political term originating in the United States, refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice. It derives from the African-American Vernacular English expression “stay woke“, whose grammatical aspect refers to a continuing awareness of these issues. By the late 2010s, woke had been adopted as a more generic slang term broadly associated with left-wing politics, socially liberal and cultural issues (with the terms woke culture and woke politics also being used). It has been the subject of memes, ironic usage and criticism. Its widespread use since 2014 is a result of the Black Lives Matter movement. But popularity has diluted its meaning and the idea has been cynically applied to everything from soft drink to razors, attracting criticism if too liberally applied.
The terms ‘woke’ and ‘wide awake’ first appear in political culture and political ads during the 1860 presidential election in support of Abraham Lincoln. The Republican Party cultivated the movement to primarily oppose the spread of slavery as described in the Wide Awakes movement. J. Saunders Redding recorded a comment from an African American United Mine Workers official in 1940 (“Let me tell you buddy. Waking up is a damn sight harder than going to sleep, but we’ll stay woke up longer.”) Lead Belly uses the phrase near the end of the recording of his 1938 song “Scottsboro Boys“, while explaining about the namesake incident, saying “I advise everybody to be a little careful when they go along through there, stay woke, keep their eyes open”
Many, perhaps most, Americans are just now waking up to the meaning of “woke.” What does “woke” have to do with looting, bricks, fires, and blood in Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis? One asks oneself, “Am I woke (good)? Or not woke (evil)? How woke is woke, how much wokeness is enough, and who decides?” In short, woke implies a new state of elevated, more highly evolved moral consciousness. As such, wokeness requires a new vocabulary to express its new concepts.
Woke language is full of terms such as “toxic” (even “catastrophic”) masculinity, “whiteness,” “white privilege,” “white fragility,” countless new pronouns and genders, “systemic racism,” “cancel culture,” “social justice,” “gaslighting,” and “de-platforming,” most of which are casually or arbitrarily defined, if at all. Wokespeak also includes some old chestnuts from the ‘60s and ‘70s: “white supremacy” (kind of hard to square with the election and re-election of Barack Obama), “off the pigs” (kill the police), “police brutality,” political rants against segregationists like “Bull” Connor and George Wallace, and new complaints about previously sanitized-and-approved commercial images of long-suffering “Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben.” Moldy slogans from 1965 lend wokeness a gauzy, almost nostalgic atmosphere—but pay heed. One thing wokeness does not tolerate is humor. Another is memory.
On June 14, 1965, Martin Luther King Jr, gave a commencement address called Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution at Oberlin College:
There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution […] The wind of change is blowing, and we see in our day and our age a significant development […] The great challenge facing every individual graduating today is to remain awake through this social revolution.
Michael Rectenwald is a Woke guide, a lapsed Marxist and former NYU professor, who gained Twitter fame as “@AntiPCNYUProf.” His latest book, Beyond Woke, collects 22 essays and speeches that help explain this reigning leftwing obsession. Rectenwald defines “woke” as “the political awakening that stems from the emergence of consciousness and conscientiousness regarding social and political injustice.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because woke and social justice are quasi-religious concepts. “Woke” evokes epiphany while “social justice” is best thought of as a whole new (god-free) religion, complete with original sin, confession, saints, and martyrs.
Our author explains:
Like the saved Christian, the social justice woke becomes penitent about previously unacknowledged sin, sin for which they must atone. Under social justice, sin is having acted carelessly from a position of privilege, without sufficient recognition or concern for those whose lack of privilege makes one’s privilege possible.
Beyond Woke plumbs the origins of woke social justice in the new religion’s sacred texts from Marx and Nietzsche to Popper, Foucault, and Marcuse. Rectenwald knows them well, having been a Marxist for 15 years.
The first modern use of the term “woke” appears in the song “Master Teacher” from the album New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) (2008) by soul singer Erykah Badu. Throughout the song, Badu sings the phrase: “I stay woke.” Although the phrase did not yet have any connection to justice issues, Badu’s song is credited with the later connection to these issues. To “stay woke” in this sense expresses the intensified continuative and habitual grammatical aspect of African American Vernacular English: in essence, to always be awake, or to be ever vigilant. David Stovall said: “Erykah brought it alive in popular culture. She means not being placated, not being anesthetized.”
Implicit in the concept of being woke is the idea that such awareness must be earned. The rapper Earl Sweatshirt recalls singing “I stay woke” along to the song and his mother turning down the song and responding: “No, you’re not.” In 2012, users on Twitter, including Badu, began using “woke” and “stay woke” in connection to social and racial justice issues and #StayWoke emerged as a widely used hashtag. Badu incited this with the first politically charged use of the phrase on Twitter; she tweeted out in support of the Russian feminist performance group Pussy Riot: “Truth requires no belief. / Stay woke. Watch closely. / #FreePussyRiot.” By the late 2010s, “woke” had taken to indicate “healthy paranoia, especially about issues of racial and political justice” and has been adopted as a more generic slang term and has been the subject of memes. For example, MTV News identified it as a key teen slang word for 2016. In The New York Times Magazine, Amanda Hess raised concerns that the word has been culturally appropriated, writing, “The conundrum is built in. When white people aspire to get points for consciousness, they walk right into the crosshairs between allyship and appropriation.”
In an article for Time magazine journalist Alana Semuels detailed the phenomenon of “woke capitalism” in which brands have attempted to include socially aware messages in advertising campaigns. In the article she cited the example of Colin Kaepernick fronting a campaign for Nike with the slogan “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” after Kaepernick caused controversy by refusing to stand for the US national anthem as a protest against racism. The term “corporate wokeness” has also been used by conservative writer Ross Douthat. Feminist writer Helen Lewis wrote a long article for The Atlantic criticizing the minimal efforts some companies make to feign progressivism while maintaining existing power structures.
Both the word and the concept of woke culture or woke politics have been subject to parodies and criticism by commentators from both conservative and progressive backgrounds who have described the term as becoming pejorative or synonymous with radical identity politics, race-baiting, extreme forms of political correctness, internet call-out culture, censorship, virtue signalling and as part of a general culture war. It has also faced a backlash for its perceived negative influence on academia, corporate advertising and the media. British conservative author Douglas Murray expresses criticism of modern social justice activism and “woke politics” in his book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity. He has also argued that woke is a movement with reasonable goals in mind but that it is “kind of overstretched and so a lot of people have been taking the mickey out of the woke in recent years and a lot of people themselves aren’t so keen to be described as woke.”
In 2019, Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, described individuals who promote woke politics as people who tend to be identitarian, censorious and puritanical in their thinking or a “culture warrior who cannot abide by the fact there are people in the world who disagree with him or her.” He also claimed woke politics to be a “more vicious form of political correctness.” The former United States President Barack Obama expressed comments that were interpreted as a critique on the woke culture, stating “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re politically woke, and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.” Fictional internet personality and social activist Titania McGrath, who was created by comedian Andrew Doyle, has been described as parodying ideas promoted by woke thinking. Doyle himself has criticized the idea of woke politics as being in a “fantasy world”.
Late last year, Andrew Sullivan wrote about woke social awareness as an equal but opposing position to Evangelical Christianity:
And so the young adherents of the Great Awokening exhibit the zeal of the Great Awakening […] they punish heresy by banishing sinners from society or coercing them to public demonstrations of shame […] We have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical.
In 2018, science fiction author John Ringo published a paper in which he argued that brands using overt political commentary in their advertising ran the risk of losing market reach and having profits decline. The idea has been encapsulated by the expression “go woke, go broke.” High profile examples of this phenomenon include the release of the film Terminator: Dark Fate:“Another possible reason for the new movie’s lackluster performance would be its reputation as a “woke” reboot of the franchise… Whether this is true or not, this reputation could have soured some potential ticket-buyers from attending Dark Fate showings in an era where many Americans are starting to feel movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment are just getting too politically-correct. Coined by bestselling author John Ringo, the phrase “Get Woke, Go Broke” certainly comes to mind.” (Jeremy Dick, MovieWeb). Other high-profile marketing campaigns to which the term have been applied by observers include Nike’s aforementioned Colin Kaepernick ads, and Gillette‘s “toxic masculinity” campaign.“Advertising is increasingly the battleground of the culture wars, with big brands like Target, Nike and Starbucks copping backlash, and praise, for taking sides in divisive social and political issues like race, gender and sexuality. But by alienating roughly 50 per cent of potential customers, many brands end up taking a hit to their bottom line – “Get woke, go broke.”” Another cited example of this approach is the 2020 film The Invisible Man.
Like COVID-19, the emergence and ubiquity of wokeness this year may have seemed sudden, but the Left has been seeding university curriculum with woke terms and concepts for years. Yet, unless you hang out in college lecture halls, you may find yourself struggling with this new political vocabulary. Clearly, we need a guide to help us understand Wokeland. Who better than someone who once was woke but then became an apostate?
Big corporations on the look out for ways to develop attachment with their target audience, saw an opportunity beyond adopting human traits (humility, passion, sophistication) to adopt human behaviours (activism). Riding on consumer tensions, corporations became activists, fighting for injustice. Nike’s social injustice campaign (featuring Colin Kaepernick), Pepsi’s short-lived advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, and Gillette’s take on toxic masculinity, were among the most talked about examples. But brands without a clear moral purpose were perceived by an increasingly cynical public as inauthentic: lecturing in morality but not practising what they preached. This spawned the meme “get woke, go broke”. On the one hand, corporations triggered public debate on key issues, on the other hand, they damaged the woke concept.
Going forward, brands will likely balance activism with safer and perhaps less polarizing consumer engagement. Gillette’s latest campaign shifts the brand’s focus from big issues to more traditional local heroes. Fearful of global public backlash, corporations will first test their woke concepts and brand purpose ideas in more localized markets. Coca Cola’s recent pro-LGBT ad campaign in Hungary, or Cadbury’s “united in one bar” campaign in India are examples of this approach.
Brand activism has become the new marketing tactic of choice, and a brand’s stance on societal and political issues can offer a differentiating factor in a fast-paced corporate marketplace. Historically brands have not engaged in social and political conversations for fear of potentially alienating customers, but our current research shows savvy brands are recognizing that marketing budget spent on good causes can have the greatest reach and impact. However, while consumers expect big brands to take a stand, they may not believe them when they do. Brands can be perceived as being appropriate in their messaging around social and political causes, and yet not authentic. True brand equity for activism marketing thus hinges on whether or not the brand engages in practices that match its message.
Activism vs genuine practice:
This research inspired the creation of a brand activism typology. The purpose of the typology is to examine the alignment between the degree of activism marketing (high vs low) with the degree of authentic practices (high vs low). These dimensions represent the degree of brand practice that authentically aligns with social causes versus the degree of brand marketing and promotion around social causes. In other words, this approach measures whether brands are practising what they preach. The resulting typology reveals when brands are more likely to be perceived as “woke washing” – inauthentic in their marketing, as their practices may not clearly align with their messaging. Some brands have neither messaging nor practices that are pro-social. Some have both high authenticity of practices as well as clear messaging around their practices and support for social causes. For these brands, expectations and perceptions match, and they are “honestly not woke” or “honestly woke” brands respectively.
Some brands, however, have authentic social engagement practices yet do not take many steps to market and position themselves as being corporate social activists. These “woke but silent” brands have an opportunity to use marketing to highlight authentic practices. Other brands have unclear or indeterminate records of social cause practices even though they use social activism marketing to position their brands in the marketplace, referred to as “woke washing”.
No room for neutrality:
In today’s post-modern culture, corporate neutrality has been subject to criticism. Remaining ambivalent on controversial issues is now more of a failure than an asset, especially in the eyes of certain consumer groups. Yet, how can brands walk the line between consumer expectations and perceptions of in authenticity?
Our initial findings show brands should be genuine, relevant to their core purpose or brand promise, and ensure their practices support their communications. Marketing communications and campaigns that center on long-term brand engagement make the most sense to consumers. Companies seeking to embrace corporate social activism must also have patience. Be in it for the long haul, and brands might just find customer support in the connected world.
I have researched the hell out of this subject, trying to make sense out of it. I guess I am getting old, because it just seems like a lot of BS to me. And I know if Colin Kaepernick has anything to do with it, you know it has to be BS. I have written 180 plus articles for my blog so far, and I have to say I am at a loss with what to do with this Woke trend. It seems to me that no matter what you do to appease the left, they just want more. And each demand is more unreasonable than the last one. At some point in time the willingness the pour money into these bottomless pits will end. They will finally end when these large companies finally realize that no matter what they do, it will never be enough. I hope it is sooner than later. Colin Kaepernick was a second rate quarterback at best, but apparently he is very intelligent. Because he is making more money now than he ever would have playing football. Because he would have been a backup at best. Now he has countless corporations including the NFL bending over backwards to make him happy.
America Is Fast Becoming a Woke Theocracy | Opinion
Wokeism is fast becoming the new state religion.
Should it overtake our government, in making identity politics paramount it will unmake any semblance of a unifying American identity.
In so doing, it will serve as the ultimate tool of cynical, radically leftist power-grabbers, who will be dividing and conquering under the guise of a fraudulent virtue, justice and morality.
The Woke’s core views have been bubbling up from elite classrooms to the commanding heights of society for decades. The idea that America is a deplorable, irredeemable nation, marked by and rooted in racism, sexism, imperialism and the like, is not new. Nor is the idea that racism, and its manifestations, beginning with slavery, and then pervading every other part of our “system,” drives all disparities in society—disparities that must be “fixed” with reverse racism.
What is different is that now such views have been legitimated by the authorities and mainstreamed in our culture. If you dare to challenge them, you are liable to end up excommunicated from American life—canceled. After all, dissenting from the Woke orthodoxy makes you a racist.
Consider some of the signs that indicate the fast-accelerating ascent of Wokeism.
In New York City, at the same time Mayor Bill de Blasio was preventing Jews and Christians from freely exercising their religions—including peaceably assembling—he permitted adherents of Wokeism to assemble en masse in protesting, rioting and looting with impunity. The Woke enjoyed First Amendment rights foreclosed to the faithful.NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
Mayor de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the relevant health authorities had argued the coronavirus-driven draconian shutdown of New York City, and the rest of the state, was necessary to save lives. If so, by permitting the Woke to flood the streets, were not New York officials conceding that public health was not really the number one priority? Were they not suggesting that they were willing to let people get sick and die because the right to practice Wokeism was absolute, sacrosanct and preeminent—this, incidentally, after instructing citizens to take to the streets in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year in February, coronavirus be damned, in context of a broader campaign against purported coronavirus-related anti-Chinese discrimination? Were they not affirming that Wokeism mattered more than the lives of the Woke—and everyone else?
State sponsorship of Wokeism continues to this day.
In apparently prioritizing Wokeism over public health, New York was not alone. California barred people from singing in churches at the same time that the Woke were permitted to protest freely. Now the state is shutting down again amid rising coronavirus cases.
In one Oregon county, health officials mandated that citizens wear masks when unable to socially distance, but exempted “People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public.”
In St. Louis, menacing protesters by the dozens were able to threaten a couple, the McCloskeys, at their home, without consequence. The police did not rush to the McCloskeys’ aid. In fact, after the husband and wife were recorded brandishing firearms to deter those descending on their home, authorities left them not only defenseless, but threatened to disarm them and throw them in jail.
Did it not appear again as if privileging the Woke was now the highest responsibility of government, over and above protecting our natural rights, including those to life, liberty and property—all of which the Woke threatened?
While the “summer of love” may be over in Seattle, with CHOP/CHAZ—the ultimate symbol of government acquiescence to Wokeism—no more, its ideals persist. Seattle recently held a training session for white municipal employees—to be clear, a government training session for those of a specific race—called “Interrupted Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness.” Meanwhile, Washington’s state phase-in plan for public schools calls for giving priority to “students furthest from educational justice first,” specifically including “students of color”—that is, on the basis of race.
Kentucky’s governor promised a plan to provide health insurance “to cover 100 percent of our individuals in our Black and African-American communities.” No word yet on what that means for other communities, or the ramifications of the broader idea that governments ought to work to confer goods and services on individuals explicitly by race.
Wokeism is not merely a part of state and local governments. It is also a part of the federal government.
As the Discovery Institute’s Christopher Rufo reported, in June, the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion covering numerous federal financial agencies—including, among others, the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange Commission—jointly co-sponsored a diversity training event aimed at engendering “allyship amid the George Floyd tragedy” among white agency employees. During the session, officials were instructed to watch videos claiming that “virtually all white people…contribute to racism,” told it was “imperative” that “[w]hite[s] invest in race-based growth and development on topics such as systemic racism…unconscious bias…and contemporary ideology, such as anti-racism, intersectionality, [w]hite privilege and [w]hite fragility,” and directed to advocate for such views in a sub-section entitled, “Don’t perpetuate white silence.” Your tax dollars paid for this training, lining the pockets of a private sector “social justice activist.”
Wokeism is not limited to the financial authorities. It has also crept into the U.S. defense apparatus. Recently, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reportedly noted in a town hall and weekly email to employees that a colleague had recommended Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility—the Woke’s bible on “anti-racism”—because, according to a spokesman, he “thought it might be of interest to members of the DIA workforce seeking to learn about the perspectives the book highlights.” It is not clear how this recommendation serves the DIA’s mission to “provide intelligence on foreign militaries to prevent and decisively win wars.”
Federal employees are being invited to act on their Wokeism. In spite of the fact that Black Lives Matter (BLM) —a group led by two avowed Marxists and a Marxist sympathizer—advocates for specific political ends, with co-founder Patrisse Cullors stating point-blank that “our goal is to get Trump out [of office],” the U.S. Office of Special Counsel has deemed that federal employees may legally support BLM while on the job.
The federal government also effectively sponsors Wokeism through the cultural institutions it backs—that is, the cultural institutions we again fund with our tax dollars. It was recently unearthed by my friend Ryan Williams—president of the Claremont Institute, where I am a Fellow, who recently graced this digital space—that the National Museum of African American History & Culture has a section of its website entitled, “Talking About Race.” One infographic there illustrates that values such as self-reliance, hard work and future orientation, institutions such as the nuclear family and a justice system based on English common law that enshrines private property rights, and practices such as using proper English and being polite are aspects of “white dominant culture”—a culture “where nonwhite persons are seen as inferior or abnormal.” Only after facing a backlash did the museum decide to pull down the infographic. But the site’s “Talking About Race” section remains, replete with similar materials, including, for example, an embedded video entitled, “Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo.”
The moral panic our country is in portends poorly.
What will happen to an America in which Dr. DiAngelo’s White Fragility becomes the state’s sacred scroll; an America where Wokeism pervades everything, its followers are granted special rights and privileges, and our social fabric is torn asunder in pursuit of retributive justice?
We will get what the Woke desire: The dismantling of our system through the undermining of the principles of our Declaration of Independence—a system that will be replaced by one in which total power resides in a Social Justice Warrior state.
How to Fight the Woke…and Win
The Woke are everywhere. They’re in our schools, in government, and at our places of work. More importantly, the Woke are on the move. They are coming for you, for me, and for anyone else who does not subscribe to their quasi-religion. Don’t fool yourself — you are not safe. The Woke are at war with anyone who opposes them, and it does not matter if you just want to be left alone. You will have to bend the knee or fight.
Here are a dozen strategies that you can start using right now
1. Adopt the right mindset and take action. As mentioned, we are in a cultural and political war, whether we want to be or not. So adopt an appropriate mindset. Get mentally tough. Get ready for battle. Remember that the Woke are not your friends. They despise you. Realize that they will lie about you, not play fair, and try to crush you into submission. Accept that family and friends may turn on you once you show your opposition to the Woke agenda. And understand that some of your own “leaders” and “allies” will happily betray you to virtue-signal to the Woke. So watch your back and take action yourself, for it is action that matters, not words.
2. Become anti-fragile. In war, you must always secure your supply lines. One of the Woke’s most powerful weapons is economic pressure, so take that away from them as much as possible. Grow some of your own food, start a side business, or form a self-supporting tribe (like a church group that financially supports itself in case one member gets fired by the Woke). Being anti-fragile will allow you to stand firm when you need to speak the truth, which brings us to Point 3.
3. Speak the truth. In our age of Woke emotionalism, truth-telling is the truly revolutionary act. So speak the truth, and do so boldly. This does not mean doing so in every situation, but if pressed, you cannot let the Woke steamroll you into silent submission. Moreover, wear that MAGA hat. Be proud. Display your beliefs through symbols. The fact is that boldness and visible symbolism build morale, and they will likely inspire others to speak up as well.
4. Never apologize, and never quit. The Woke view an apology as a confession, not as a chance at reconciliation. As such, never apologize. You will only be made to grovel further or surrender completely. At the same time, never quit. That is what your spineless employer will want you to do to save him the trouble of firing you. Don’t do it. Make them fire you, then move to Point 5.
5. Use lawfare. If you have the means, then use lawfare against the Woke at any and every opportunity (which is one reason why electing President Trump and getting good judges is important). For instance, if your employer fires you to appease the Woke mob, then make him pay for it. Don’t go quietly. Instead, hit him with the hardest legal counterpunch that you can. It won’t always work, but it will sometimes, and that matters.
6. Arm yourself. Exercise your God-given rights and arm yourself thoroughly. After all, a sheep is much easier to cage than a lion.
7. Starve the Woke while feeding your allies. Stop giving money or time to any Woke-supporting group. Stop supporting Woke universities or businesses. Stop watching Netflix and the NFL. Just stop. Starve them to the greatest extent possible. And push to defund any such groups that receive public funds. Just as importantly, support any ally that has started his own platform or business to compete with such organizations. Donate to them. Spread the word about them. Write good reviews about them. Such support is easy to do and pays dividends.
8. Vote in everything. Vote in school council elections, city elections, etc. Vote in everything. Granted, voting will not defeat the Woke, but it will provide our side with some temporary victories, and it will buy time for the ultimate solution to this problem (see Point 12).
9. Use your power. Get into any position of political, business, and/or cultural power, then keep your sphere of influence anti-Woke. And yes, this means mercilessly purging any Wokester from the domain that you control. Remember, we are at war, and they would do the same to you in a heartbeat. In fact, they already have. And since they made the new rules, it’s only fair that we abide by them.
10. Use the Woke’s tactics against them. We may not wish to, but it is time to use the Woke’s tactics against them. Establish gun sanctuary zones. Disinvite Woke speakers. Tear down statues of Woke heroes who were flawed in some way. If the Woke want “cancel culture,” then it is time to cancel the Woke wherever and whenever we can.
11. Have children, and don’t send them to Woke schools. Children are the future, and if the culture war against the Woke turns out to be a 700-year Reconquista rather than a short skirmish, then having children is vital. So have many kids, but do not let them be indoctrinated in Woke schools. (If you are young, and don’t want the Woke to have leverage against you, then hold off on children. However, when you get anti-fragile, have many.)
12. Support secession. Let’s be honest, the time has come for some areas in the U.S. to be allowed to go and build their desired Woketopia. We should let them go — not just figuratively, but literally. After all, the United States are indeed states, but they are not united. And secession is the only peaceful and moral long-term solution to the division in America. The other alternatives are continuing political and cultural war — with serious violence being a real possibility — or total political and cultural submission for one side or the other. But the former option is worse than secession, and the latter one is immoral. Moreover, it is just wrong that every four years, nearly half the country is shaking in fear at the prospect that the other side might win the election. Not to mention that such fear is a sign — a big, bright neon sign — that two groups of people so culturally and morally different should no longer be together. Thus, to defeat the Woke peacefully but permanently, secession is the only real answer. And if America is truly an idea, then it is an idea that can be recreated anywhere, even in a newly formed country.
These twelve strategies are a roadmap for success against the Woke. If we use them, we will certainly face hardships. We will suffer. But in the end, we will win.
The Sacrifices The Woke Gods Require
On January 3, a CNN headline claimed, “Patton Oswalt defends his longtime friendship with Dave Chappelle.” Except, that’s not what Oswalt did. What the headline should have said was, “Patton Oswalt seeks absolution for his longtime friendship with Dave Chappelle.” Or even more accurately, “Patton Oswalt seeks absolution for the views of his former friend, Dave Chappelle.”
Because no one who treats a friend as Oswalt did should be able to retain the title.
Few pop culture events have highlighted the cultish nature of wokeness or the legalistic and rapacious demands it makes on its adherents more than Oswalt’s decision to distance himself from a man with whom, by his own admission, he has enjoyed 34 years of friendship.
For what great transgression did Oswalt feel he had to offer a sacrifice of public self-humiliation? He accepted a favor from the much (much) more successful Chappelle to make a guest appearance at his New Year’s Eve show then posted a backstage photo of the pair to Instagram. As one would expect, given their disparate levels of achievement, Oswalt also praised the five-time Emmy winner for his comedic genius.
This act resulted in nothing more mundane than a buzzing hive of anonymous commentators accusing Oswalt of minimizing transphobia. (For those who’ve been living under a rock, by “transphobia” they meant Chappelle’s assertion in his latest special that “gender is a fact” and that wearing women’s clothes does not make one a woman any more than wearing blackface makes one ethnically African). Not 24 hours passed before the gnashing teeth of these nameless social media Pharisees brought Oswalt to his knees in repentance.
After assuring the world that he and Chappelle “100% disagree about transgender rights & representation” and that he’s an “LGBT ally” in good standing who “[supports] trans peoples’ rights … to live safely in the world as their fullest selves,” the 53-year-old groveled for forgiveness. “I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause. Or the DEPTH of that hurt.” O my gods, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments…
Finally, to add insult to injury, Oswalt patronized Chappelle’s supposed heresy with an obsequiousness that would put Dickens’ ‘umble Uriah Heep to shame.
“I also don’t believe a seeker like [Chappelle] is done evolving, learning,” he said in regret over his colleague’s failure to reach his own level of enlightenment. “You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off. Impossible not to be hopeful and open and cheer them on.” Oswalt then had the temerity, after lamenting Chappelle’s stunted evolution in front of the entire world (a world that only started paying attention because Chappelle was involved, by the way), to insist that he’s a “loyal friend.”
In a sane era, Oswalt’s post, which featured an embarrassing performance art photo of him supposedly writing this letter of apology on a yellow legal pad, would have friends and family wondering if he was still of sound mind. At the very least, pragmatic considerations should have given him at least a few days’ pause before so visibly throwing a comedy legend under the bus.
Years before a tiny handful of employees walked out of Netflix for airing his latest standup routine, Chappelle had become a household name. He is a man who sells out arenas worldwide by doing nothing more than talking into a microphone. Ask ten people at the grocery store about Dave Chappelle and you may get ten different opinions (or ten bad impressions). But ask them about Patton Oswalt and six will likely confuse him with either General George S. Patton or JFK shooter Lee Harvey Oswald. Perhaps two will be able to identify him for the most-famous role he has ever played — the voice of the rodent in Pixar’s “Ratatouille” (a bit of casting that, as National Review’s Kyle Smith pointed out, has suddenly come to seem prescient).
Certainly, there’s no question that an association with Dave Chappelle has a lot more to offer someone like Oswalt than appeasing @transgrindr92. Even Hollywood wouldn’t have faulted him for ignoring the activists mewling in his comment section — not when A-listers like Brad Pitt and Stevie Wonder still turn out to Chappelle’s shows and headliners like Usher and Justin Bieber are happy to take the stage alongside him.
A pastor friend of mine pointed out on Twitter that Oswalt’s behavior only makes sense if you look at him as the true acolyte of the new leftist religion of wokeness — a cruel and exacting cult that will brook no threats to its total authority over your life and your relationships. It requires you to mouth creeds without question: Trans women are women. Black lives matter. And like a cult, it separates you from the unconverted and unrighteous who might plant seeds of doubt about its dogmas. Any who interrogate the soundness of the foundational doctrines are excommunicated (canceled).
Yet, even while it’s important to acknowledge the blinkered, cowardly insanity of Oswalt’s betrayal, we shouldn’t just sneer at him or the many like him who would throw out relationships built over decades over the merest whiff of identity politics apostasy. We should also pity them. Because the greatest tragedy of cults is and always has been how they fracture real community in exchange for counterfeits.
The heresy hunters who showed up in Oswalt’s mentions with their verbal pitchforks don’t value him and have no hope of providing him authentic human connection. Comedy, like any community based on shared loves rather than shared hates, actually did. And as Oswalt himself said, for more than thirty years, he enjoyed both the personal and professional benefit of a real relationship he built in that community. And for what prize did he hand over this treasure? One more day of justification in the eyes of the woke gods, to whom he’ll have to make another sacrifice tomorrow.
Oswalt traded a pearl of great value for rubbish worth less than fool’s gold.
Like all pagan gods throughout history, the woke deities of the 21st century take everything and offer nothing.
en.wikipedia.org, “Woke,” By wikipedia editors; jamesgmartin.center, “Woke Me When It’s Over,” By David Clemens; theconversation.com, “Where ‘woke’ came from and why marketers should think twice before jumping on the social activism bandwagon,” By Samantha Sophia; theconversation.com, “Woke washing: what happens when marketing communications don’t match corporate practice,” By Alba Vigaray; theaustralian.com, “Too woke or welcome? Oscars rules explained,” By KEVIN MAHER; nypost.com, “Oscars’ woke quota will backfire on Hollywood spectacularly,” By Kyle Smith; newsweek.com, “America Is Fast Becoming a Woke Theocracy.” By Ben Weingarten; americanthinker.com, “How to Fight the Woke…and Win.” By Damian Max; thedailywire.com, “The Sacrifices The Woke Gods Require.” By Megan Basham;
The Oscars take another step into Oblivion:
The Oscars, we all know, have a diversity problem. When the Los Angeles Times reported in 2012 that the Academy membership was 94 per cent white, 77 per cent male and 90 per cent over 50, it was greeted with shock and a vague aspirational commitment towards inclusivity. When in 2015 and 2016 there were no black nominees in all four acting categories, the Academy made a commitment to membership change.
In 2019 the Academy announced that the membership was now 84 per cent white and 68 per cent male. In the same year all four acting categories contained only a single non-white nomination (for Cynthia Erivo, as Harriet Tubman in Harriet) even though some of the best films of the year were showcasing diversity, eg The Last Black Man in San Francisco, The Farewell, Clemency and Waves.
The problem inevitably reflects a wider imbalance in the industry. All the film sets that I visit, including those of the Hollywood blockbusters, are predominantly male and white, and often (especially in the UK) sprinkled with young martinets who are working for peanuts while Daddy foots the bills. The new Oscar inclusion rules aim to tackle that by asking for at least 30 per cent of crew members from under-represented groups (including women), with the same applying to interns.
Where the new Oscar eligibility rules come unstuck is in their attempt to dictate the creative narratives. It’s no longer as simple as white people telling white stories and black people telling black stories. Ditto for men speaking for men, women for women. To employ that decision-making strategy is a fatal error. One of the strongest black movies from last year, Waves, for instance, was written and directed by a white Texan called Trey Edward Shults (who handed his script to his black cast to be transformed by their experiences). The powerful drama The Last Black Man in San Francisco was directed by a white San Franciscan, Joe Talbot, from a story that he had written with his best friend, the black actor Jimmie Fails, who is also in the film. In the UK the choice of an actor of Indian heritage, Dev Patel, as David Copperfield in Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield was a masterstroke because it reinforced the boy’s sense of alienation from a mostly white establishment. But did that make it a non-white film? And if so, who cares?
Starting with 2024 films, your project can’t even be considered for a Best Picture Oscar unless it meets a set of diversity targets of the kind you’d normally expect to see credited to the Oberlin Freshperson Student Social-Justice Initiative & Sustainable Vegan Hemp Co-Operative. Good news, whoever staged that Rob-Lowe-meets-Snow-White dance number: You’re now the second-most embarrassing thing ever associated with the Academy Awards.
To boil down the long, complicated new rules: To be eligible for best picture, a film has to check two out of four boxes. One is to represent glorious 21st-century American diversity in its casting (a problem if your movie is set in, say, pretty much any other time and place); another is to have two minorities or women as heads of departments; another is affirmative action in the marketing and distribution departments.
The easiest criterion to meet is apprenticeships for members of underrepresented groups, meaning anyone but straight white non-handicapped males. Welcome to low-paid internships, people of color! I’m sure Hollywood race relations will feel totally chill five years from now, when every java boy and latte girl serving America’s showbiz aristocracy is black. Soon the last surviving copy of “Gone with the Wind” will be locked in a vault accessible only to scholars of racism, but you’ll be able to see Tara re-enacted in Burbank and Culver City. Yet since we know that the real controversy revolves around black representation, what the Academy announced this week isn’t going to mollify its critics for long. People who fancy themselves America’s most daring creative leaders will soon be cringing at another hashtag, conceding sin and publicly flogging themselves in the course of announcing yet another round of woke reforms. The Academy has, however, opened the door to considerations other than merit. Its reputation will suffer accordingly. Nobody would watch the Super Bowl if they suspected a great team was disqualified for reasons other than how well it played.
So it appears that we will give inferior movies the Oscar awards just because they are directed by black directors. If you are that director or actor do you really want an award knowing that you only got it was because of your skin color. Nobody in the industry will respect them. You are taking away the meaning and the value of these awards. So maybe they haven’t won anything in a while is because they are producing crap that nobody wants to watch.
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