It’s abundantly clear that people have been charmed by the enticement of being “woke.” It gives them the breathtaking ability to discern the problematic aspects of pretty much anything.
Problematizing as religious observance
As it demands a strict adherence to a set of incontrovertible truths, wokeness has been described as a secular religion. Peter Boghossian summarized it as a religion with the original sin being privilege (specifically, white privilege), but its difference with other religions lies in the absence of a “redemption narrative.”
While members of the “oppressor” class must always repent, woke types must abide by the rules of wokeness, or be viciously ostracized. The Post Millennial’s own Barrett Wilson can attest to this.
The reality of the phenomenon was crystallized when Boghossian, James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, outlined the origins of this claptrap by showing its corrosive presence on university campuses. Coining the term, Grievance Studies, Lindsay explicated it by saying that problematizing is its “primary tool” as it seeks to find problems everywhere in its endeavor to destroy and rebuild the culture.
The Church of Grievance has been working to expand its dominance. The university is its Vatican, serving as the place where the theology of wokeness is dictated to impressionable pupils who are then sent out to find new converts.
From here, it has infested many corners of mainstream society, unfortunately making its way to the artistic world.
The art of problematizing
The art of problematizing has reached a new peak this holiday season with some interesting targets being chided for their unfortunate particularities.
Last month, sci-fi writer Andy Duncan labeled J.R.R Tolkien a racist for his portrayal of the Orcs in The Lord of the Rings. In Duncan’s assessment, Tolkien was advocating the notion that “some races are better than others.” Which is as humorous as it’s disgraceful, considering that Tolkien despised racialist theories and wasn’t too fond of Nazism.
More bewildering is the characterization of the film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as a presentation of racism, homophobia, and bullying. Huffington Post posted a video positing that Rudolph was a victim of exploitation by Santa, bigotry due to his red-nose, and his mother a victim of sexism. The homophobia and racism is illusory; but the woke folks fail to realize that the moral arc of the story is Rudolph being accepted by his peers. It’s fundamentally anti-bullying.
The ire towards Frank Loesser’s classic, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” was perhaps the best display of the puerility of woke folks. Radio stations were pressured to pull it from radio stations since the song promoted “rape culture.” This is absolute bilge.
In an astute critique of the outrage, Barbara Kay averred that the song was written during a time before “feminism took hold” and when sexual escapades involved a “ritual, gendered division of labour.”
This debacle is so indicative of how woke theologians take the moral sensibilities of today and apply them to past generations.
Even things as innocuous as ginger bread cookies aren’t shielded from the lunacy as they apparently contravene the new wisdom regarding gender binaries.
In his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell contended that intellectuals “dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.” Ridiculing art and literary criticism, he claimed that it’s “normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.”
Orwell’s criticisms appertain to the tendency of woke types to intellectualize their subjective feelings. Their thinking is sluggish and their thoughts easy to imitate.
I shall anticipate that certain things will soon be the subject of woke dissections. I will do their work for them. Here’s one example:
It is common knowledge that Ronald Reagan liked jelly beans. His favorite flavor was licorice. Considering the destructive impact Reagan’s policies had on the black community, there must be a connection between Reagan’s eating habits and the plights of African Americans. As food studies scholar Kyla Wazana Tompkins wrote in Racial Indigestion: “Eating intervenes in what I argue are paradoxical and historically specific to regulate embodiment, which I define as living in and through the social experience of the matter we call flesh.”
With this brilliant analysis in mind, Reagan’s liking for black jelly beans can be understood as an allegory for his contempt for the black body. It’s a way for him to vicariously participate in the destruction of the black body and its banishment from his society that requires the preservation of white capitalist power.
It’s that simple.
I look upon this cultural moment disconsolately. But the emergence of Titiana Mcgrath or Madeline Seers proves parodying wokeness might be the best way to expose its futility, and ease its grip on the culture and our institutions.