ROGER KIMBALL: Woke is truly going broke.
The Chinese have come up with one of the most penetrating epithets to describe this sickness. In 2010, some clever Chinese coined the term baizuo, which literally means “white left” but really means “sanctimonious liberal dysphoria.” It’s a menu-driven pathology in which, in the words of the political scientist Chenchen Zhang, “hypocritical humanitarians… advocate political correctness just to satisfy their own sense of moral superiority.” A rancid pity is the motor of this enterprise — pity, and an unearned sense of forever unexpiated guilt. “Culpability suits us,” the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner observes, “it provides an alibi for our abdication.”
It’s not all bad news, however. What Elon Musk memorably described as the “mind virus” of wokeness is undeniably a potent and widespread pathogen. But reality counts for something, both the psychological reality that requires periodic respite from fanaticism and the economic reality that, increasingly, collides with the somnolent wokeness of nonstop racial obsessiveness.
The cultural landscape is full of husks — the dead and empty husks of hectoring racialism that, just yesterday, embarrassed the self-appointed commissars of culture but now embarrasses only itself. The streaming service Netflix is one of the latest casualties of the get-woke-go-broke dialectic. Serving up a smorgasbord of politically correct entertainments like Dear White People, it has seen its viewers, and its stock price, disappear.
On the other hand, with its back against the wall, Netflix may have grown a pair: Ricky Gervais Crosses the Line?
First it was Bill Maher, as noted here, thumbing his nose at the wokerati on the issue of transgenderism in his most recent HBO show.
Now it is Ricky Gervais’s turn. He has a new comedy special coming out soon on Netflix, and move over Dave Chappelle! Take in this one-minute excerpt (STRONG language warning, but this has news value):
Notice that the audience loves it. Interesting that the show is called “SuperNature.” Probably just a coincidence.
Recently Netflix sent out a memo to employees whose subtext was clear: if you’re a wokester, you should consider finding employment elsewhere. I wonder if this was sent out anticipating an internal backlash from Netflix employees, as happened with the last Chappelle special. I wonder if there will be a Netflix employee protest outside company HQ?
Keep in mind that Gervais is in every other way a leftist. So when you’re losing Gervais, Maher, etc. . .
So what happens next with Netflix and the streaming industry in general? As Rob Long writes: It’s Going to Be a Messy Year.