Hulu has a new original show called "Woke". Below is my assessment after watching 4 episodes of it. The only reason I did is because some people asked me to after I commented disparagingly on the title alone. I guess they thought I would be impressed. LOL.
My score? 3/5 stars.
That thing was dry and basic.: like a sandwich with no condiments on it.
They BEGAN with nonsense:
The friendship is a trio, and there's always that one white one right? So, you know he's going to have an important role in the story, but that's odd isn't it? Because I thought this was a show about "woke-ness". (And I'll add here, that despite how the term has been ridiculed, colonized and watered down, it's supposed to describe Black people who are 'conscious', i.e. have a habit of thinking like free people, resisting oppression, and defying societal restraints (if need be) to do so.
But I'm being honest, I don't like this trend of "the white friend in the Black group" because it's almost always (as it is in this show) a character that represents a low-key version of the 'white savior' troupe--which I actively detest. If it's subliminal 'white savior' rhetoric, often it's 'spicy white' (i.e. whites can be 'down' too, 'be cool', 'chill with the boys', 'be ethnic', 'be poor', be suffering right along with you Negroes...) rhetoric too. I can't stand this rhetoric either, because often times, the resistance of said white characters is draped in a kind of heroism that mocks sacrifice and martyrdom (where they could have everything that white privilege could give them, but they chose to spurn it all).
Oh my God,
Buddha is that you?
Then there's creeping suspicion I have how oppressors, especially those in the fascist vein, LOVE! And I mean LOVE to bastardize (rip-off) and mystify efforts to comprehend, operationalize, and share such analyses with others. Need an example? I got one for you:
When hurting Black people said "Black Lives Matter!", how did the apologists, subverts, and racists reply "No, they don't!" out of all the ways they could have done it? They chose to go with the following: "All Live Matter!"...."Blue Lives Matter!"...."You Matter"....etc. And they kept it up: even though ALM is false if BLM is false (which it is under the white supremacist context). They kept it up, even though there's no such thing as a blue person, and we all know that BLM was addressing an aspect of systemic racism (police brutality) not interpersonal racism.
Back to the colonizer in the friend group.
I knew I recognized him! I looked him up. He'd played this role (white-trash, druggie, anti-capitalist hippie) before in the movie 'Dope'. Instead of a tech genius as he was in Dope, this time he's a luddite and cares about the environment. Can you say irony????
I never did like actors who always played the same roles in multiple movies. It makes me feel that either A) they're not talented, or B) that there's an agenda there (historically, point B is why Black people are regulated to the nine archetypal stereotypical roles: toms, bucks, coons, mulattoes, mammies, the jester, sapphires, predators or sacrifices).
As representation increases in this ever-diversifying country, one possible agenda in the works could be the bastardization of 'the token Black' phenomenon, and its transformation into 'the token white phenomenon'. The emotional shift then will be from condescending intrigue (as is the case with the token Black) to pity and endearment (of the token white).
Again, media: FOH. It's like y'all can't have a show about the experiences of an "awakening" or "conscious" Black person without there being some close proximity to whiteness that undermines it. Actually, that's exactly what it is: y'all really refuse to have a show or movie where they discuss white supremacy explicitly without having yourselves represented in appealing ways: That white friend in the group that will resist Black awakening every step of the way, dangling the phony friendship in the Black protagonist's face as if it was worth their liberation.
That white parent who contributed an egg or sperm to yield the Black protagonists, who finds themselves in the midst of identity crises everyday. These admixed characters are the best vehicles for censorship, as the basis of censorship is in their very genes! I mean, in fell swoop, whites can watch and undermine logical Black resistance concepts. Logical resentment can be debased to illogical self-hate: "Yeah, she says 'black power', but she's half white."
Or their favorite: the white love/lust interest that debases the pro-Blackness: "Yeah, he's talking that aNtI-wHiTe talk, but he still sleeps with white women."
Oh wait, that happened in this show didn't it?
Yeah it did.
YIKES, Hulu. Yikes.
Then there was all the distasteful obscurantism of the Black experience/struggle and the flimsy articulations of the Black experience/struggle in the show. Examples are below:
1. Casual Affirmation of LGBTQQIA+: The protagonist, a heterosexual male (albeit a quirky one) strolls by a drag queen on his way to work, and takes the advances of the drag queen in good nature. (It would take a lot to explain this further, so I'll leave this here for now.)
2. The protagonist himself who practices assimilationism and color-blindness, as evidenced by his work being liked by a racist white man on the bus, a pro-black woman, and later, evidence of a "95% cross over index". (Think: Lizzo, the Fresh Prince, Beyoncé, OJ Simpson, Oprah, or let me just say it: palatable Blackness). The protagonist doesn't seem to ever come to understand that his art is a coping mechanism for his repressed discontent with racism. He never gets that his art provides a route for his escapism.
3. Then there is the third member of the trio, protagonist's Black friend who is a con-artist. He uses the effects of racism (ex 1. the narrative of blackness being a homogenized experience) “to his benefit” (to survive). His friend also plays into the following stereotypes: 2. jobless, aimless Black man; 3. womanizer, sex-fiend Black man; and 4. the ignorant Black person.
4. They disrespected Aaron McGruder, the Black creator of The Boondocks, by mentioning him. I took this very personally because I'm a big fan of the The Boondocks (a pro-Black, satirical comic/animation, i.e. an artistic version of resistance). How dare they insinuate that a man who denies the centrality of his Blackness in a white supremacist context could be anything like McGruder?
5. Quoting MLK Jr, Malcolm X and others OUT OF CONTEXT! (This is random, but they even mocked Hinduism.)
6. That whole janky-ass police brutality scene, which turned into historical fiction right when the cops decided leave the (lucky) protagonist (a Black male) alone. But what's most insidious about this scene is that it's treated as a point of radicalization, which effectively makes police brutality ahistorical and random act of chance, when it 1) isn't the point of radicalization (being born Black in a white supremacist world is) 2) does have a historical context, and 3) is almost NEVER random, when it comes to minorities in America. To add insult to injury, we had to watch another display of the white savior complex (illustrated when the protagonist's white friend runs to the rescue), the activated slave mentality in the protagonist when he sees his white friend running over to save him, AND the white privilege of the white guy (when he runs up on the cops with all the smoke and nothing happens to him).
7. The white-washing of the protagonist's photo for his presentation is rooted in colorism.
8. The 2-3 times that they almost explicitly configured woke-ness as a (worthless) commodity??? Woke leads to broke? Are you kidding me???
9. The protagonist's catharsis on stage, which reminded me of Kanye West when he spoke in South Carolina (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PhFQrkAvSo): he has a mEnTaL bReAkDoWn on stage, and there they (this show's white creators) are, at their worst: LINKING MENTAL ILLNESS TO WOKE-NESS?!! And at their best, calling it just plain 'stupid' as the protagonist's white friend did after the protagonist's histrionics on stage. All his truth...undermined...ridiculed, and of course, in this day and age, turned into memes online. (And: doesn't this happen in real life??? Weren't there memes and jokes about Meg thee Stallion getting shot up, being a man, being a snitch and a liar and jealous, JUST BECAUSE she had the capacity to read the (racially-charged) situation and respond considerately/consciously???)
10. Here and there, they employed some clever little zingers (wisecracks at white supremacy). But who do they have say them? Surprise: the protagonist's complacent Black friend.
That's rich. Who cares about his words of wisdom when he's already been pegged as the ignorant sort of person to fall prey to malapropisms in a conversation about mere Chinese food??? Talk about having to read between the lines!
You know what? I'm gonna do a Part 2 for this show, ok? I need a break from this right now. And I'm sure you might too.
See you next time.