As wokeness becomes more ridiculous than ever, it also appears to have less strength than ever. ‘Woke’ is as likely to be a punchline these days as it is a cultural force.
It’s an affront to basic sanity. It deserves to be mocked.
It needs to be mocked.
In his new Netflix special ‘Selective Outrage’ Chris Rock began with, “I’m going to try do a show tonight without offending nobody. I’m going to try my best.”
“Because you never know who might get triggered,” he said Saturday night. “You say the wrong thing, motherf***ers get scared. You gotta watch out!”
Rock immediately took on one of the central tenets of wokeism—that words can be violence.
“You know when people say ‘words hurt.’ That’s what they say,” Rock said. “Gotta watch what you say. Because ‘words hurt’. You know, anybody that says ‘words hurt’ has never been punched in the face. ‘Words hurt’ when you write it on a brick, okay?”
“You gotta watch out,” Rock repeated. “Everybody’s scared.”
He kept returning to the idea that wokeism fosters a culture of fear and inhibition.
Rock next turned to how wokeism has affected the workplace.
“If you are of a certain age, and you go to work, everybody’s f***ing scared,” Rock said. “In the old days if somebody wanted your job they just worked harder than you.”
“Now, if somebody wants your job they just wait for you to say some dumb s***.” he said. “Try to get you with one of them ‘woke traps.’”
Rock gave an example, “I’m in my old neighborhood the other day, I bumped into my good friend Fred. Hadn’t seen him in years. Fred got a new job at AT&T. So I’m like ‘Hey Fred, how’s the job?”
“Fred’s like ‘ooh, I love the job. It’s a safe space. I feel seen. I feel heard,” Rock mimicked. “There’s a lot of diversity.”
He followed up, “And I’m looking at him like, ‘n****a it’s me! What, you think I’m wearing a wire or some s***? What the f*** you talking about ‘safe space.’”
“N***a you did eight years for manslaughter,” Rock added. “Ain’t nobody safe around you.”
The audience howled. Rock gave wokeism one more punch, “Everybody’s full of s***. Motherf***ers typing out woke ass tweets on a phone made by child slaves.”
“You need to cut it out, man,” he said.
Cut it out indeed.
Chris Rock destroying woke hypocrisy and moral insanity. pic.twitter.com/c3cq3g6tnu
— Aaron Ginn (@aginnt) March 5, 2023
Rock is but the latest top-tier comedian to go to war against woke. For comedians in particular, their profession is often based on the premise of limitless expression and saying things you might not express at the dinner table. That’s part of what makes it funny—the irreverence.
In recent years, everyone from celebrities to everyday people have watched their jobs or reputations suffer because they dared to step outside the lines of what woke enforcers deemed ‘acceptable’ speech or thought. For too long the very concept of American freedom was challenged by an intolerant mob—online, governmental, corporate, and elsewhere—that insisted that society at large must conform to politically correct parameters set by them.
It was never a question or a debate. It was a demand. Because of this, it was always unsustainable. That dam was always going to break.
Real people don’t actually act like that or want to act like that. Wokeism at its core was always not only anti-liberal but anti-human.
Often today, popular culture seems to be pushing back significantly against the utter absurdity of wokeness. Rock is one of the most high profile figures leading that charge, but if you had to choose a breaking point, my gauge is Dave Chapelle’s 2021 Netflix special ‘The Closer’ in which the woke mob demanded that the major streaming platform cancel Chappelle over his controversial remarks about transgenderism.
There were protests. There were walkouts. At the time, Chappelle did suffer some minor professional setbacks. But he ultimately weathered the storm.
He said in response to his critics at the time, “This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States. Some of those invitations I accepted. When this controversy came out about ‘The Closer’, they began disinviting me from these film festivals. And now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film.”
Chappelle praised Netflix and its chief executive officer for standing by him, “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
Chappelle also told his critics he would not bow down.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me,” Chappelle insisted. “I am not bending to anyone’s demands.”
We can expect wokesters not to like the Rock special and some may even protest. But after the Chappelle controversy two years ago, it seems even they sense they don’t have the power they imagined they had in 2021. A time when even critics of wokeism like myself also feared they had that kind of strength.
There was a pre-woke time where most could have their say, others might have opinions about those opinions and were free to express those too, but most Americans weren’t constantly walking on pins and needles afraid to express themselves or think outside someone else’s box.
When people used to say, as Rock might put it, “stupid s***”, it wouldn’t necessarily be a career ender. ‘It’s a free country’ used to be a common retort to disagreements.
It should remain free. Thanks to Chris Rock for helping.
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