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6 Woke Movies Deemed Not Woke Enough

They tried. They really tried. But these filmmakers couldn't please the woke mob

Woke is now firmly entrenched in popular culture.

You can thank celebrities racing to be more woke, or socially aware, than the next star or starlet. Blame entertainment reporters, too, They dutifully factor identity politics into their reviews, commentary and news coverage.

If a critic spends time counting up the number of women or people of color in a movie, chances are it’s a woke review. Some films, as a result, scurry to be as woke as possible. Yet, as we’ve seen recently, sometimes woke isn’t woke enough.

Confused?

Consider the following six movies. Each strained to be as socially aware as possible.

  • The casting
  • The themes
  • The messaging

Yet each endured brickbats from Social Justice Warriors. Why? Sure, they were woke. They just weren’t woke enough.

‘Booksmart’

The wokest movie … ever? It’s a prime contender given its themes, comedy beats and overall premise. Two woke liberal teens regret not partying hardy during the final year of high school. So they try to fix that during one madcap night.

Director Olivia Wilde’s film is both socially conscious and funny, a combination rarely seen in pop culture circles. That still wasn’t enough for sites like BuzzFeed. It slammed the film for having a “class” blind spot. Not to be outdone, The Mary Sue blasted the film for featuring two white characters. Really.

‘Black Panther’

The MCU smash got so very, very close. The film touches on colonization, inner city inequality and more. It’s set in Africa and features an almost all-black cast. That’s a woke home run, right?

“Wakanda forever!”

Of course not.

Some are attacking the film for its lack of LGBTQ perspective. More specifically, why we didn’t see any gay romance during the action saga?

Turns out we almost did in one sequence “featuring Ayo and Okoye (Danai Gurira) suggesting that the two might have been romantically involved, or at the very least attracted to each other.”

The scene hit the cutting room floor, sparking an outcry over its absence.

“A romance between Okoye and Ayo is the sort of thing that easily could have been included in Black Panther with something as simple as a longing look and a bit of flirting kiss, but it looks like we’re going to have to wait even longer for the MCU’s films to catch up with the times.”

‘Snatched’

Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn teamed for his 2017 action romp with a decided feminist slant. Our heroes save the day on their own with very little help from men. A comical subplot features a lesbian couple whose paths keep crossing our heroines.

Schumer bragged prior to the film’s release that she ordered a sequence involving a gun to be removed following the Orlando mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida with left 49 people dead.

Woke on steroids, right? Not even close.

Snatched | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Film critics shredded “Snatched” for portraying a foreign culture in a negative light. Here’s a sample slam from The New York Times:

“Snatched” is one of those movies that subscribes to a dubious homeopathic theory of cultural insensitivity by which the acknowledgment of offensiveness is supposed to prevent anyone from taking offense. The idea is that if you use variations on the phrase “That’s racist!” as a punch line a few times, nothing else you say or do could possibly be racist. Including, say, populating your movie with dark-skinned thugs with funny accents and killing a few of them for cheap laughs.

‘Moana’

This delightful Disney feature went out of its way to portray Polynesian culture with authenticity and respect. The film’s creative team traveled extensively to nail the minor nuances of the culture, a painstaking process that likely jacked up the film’s budget.

The collaboration with various experts ended up with its own nickname: The Oceanic Story Trust.

Impressive, no? It still wasn’t enough for some.

Of particular concern is the movie’s portrayal of the demigod Maui, who is shown as enormous and egotistical, albeit with a good heart. That has been jarring for some in Polynesia, where obesity rates are among the highest in the world and where Maui is a revered hero in oral traditions.

‘Annihilation’

The science fiction film arrived at a perfect time … on paper. The film features a mostly female cast in the kind of sci-fi adventure men typically dominate. Natalie Portman is the main attraction, but fellow female cast members include Gina Rodriguez, rising star Tessa Thompson (“Thor: Ragnarok”) and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

It’s like a #MeToo advertisement. Only there’s a problem with the casting.

Annihilation (2018) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures

The film is based on a trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. The second book in the series describes Portman’s character as being half-Asian: “high cheekbones that speak to the strong Asian heritage on one side of her family.”

Portman isn’t Asian.

Writer/director Alex Garland (“Ex Machina”) says he hasn’t read the second book or third books and wasn’t aware of that description. He based the project solely on reading the first story in the trilogy, with the plan to expand the story’s universe himself down the short road.

Portman, after being alerted to the issue, called the casting decision “problematic.”

‘Bright’

This Netflix original got blasted by most film critics. It was ugly, and the film’s lame dialogue and clunky plotting were clearly to blame.

It’s still a high-profile actioner with a black lead actor (Will Smith) and a story line tied directly to prejudice. Co-star Joel Edgerton plays an Orc assigned to partner with a human cop (Smith). Orcs are uniformly targeted and taunted in the “Bright” universe, bringing to mind race relations in the real world.

Bright | Official Trailer | Netflix

Director David Ayer of “Suicide Squad” infamy called his film “woke AF.” Apparently not. The Daily Beast, a bastion of woke obsession, led the charge against the film’s “problematic” nature:

The fact that orcs—a breed of monster that are generally known for brutishness and being both villains and cannon fodder in The Lord of the Rings—are essentially meant to take the place of African Americans in Bright’s attempt at unpacking race relations is a huge problem on its own …

Then there’s the Latinx gang, headed by Enrique Murciano sporting the nickname “Poison” and a face full of tattoos, who form the only other contingent of actual people of color in the entire movie. As a bunch of stereotypes thrown in with other stereotypes—given the way the orcs dress pretty much exactly the same as they do—where are they meant to fit in? It’s impossible that they’re nonexistent.”

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30 Comments

  1. Netflix totally mutilated Altered Carbon (which may be the least “Woke” dystopian Sci-fi series of books ever written) by turning it into a SJW equality fest. Please cry me a river you sissies.

    1. My daughter wanted me to watch it since I liked the Expanse. Good grief…if you blinked you lost track of who was in what body and what was going on.

    1. Bright was just an awful movie…i sat through it mostly because the wife and kids went to bed and i was bored

      1. Yeah, The Husband had it on here. It really was terrible. I think it is time to stop paying the “big” stars money up front just to star in movies. Maybe they would think before being in just anything for a buck. I have to assume that they write off the losses for these stinkers.

        1. i’m not so sold on net getting big stars in some of these films…my *big* beef with Holly-sexualpredatorheaven-wood is the basic lack of imagination on thinking of new movies – they just keep making sequels, super hero movies, remaking old movies…need more original ideas…

          1. Will Smith was just doing more “Will Smith”…I did like Joel Edgerton and his Orc “Nick”. I thought he was more human then Smith…

          2. I agree and you would think with all the stuff they get themselves twisted up about they would have plenty of material. Of course, no one wants to watch that either, we get it fed to us morning, noon and night.

    2. I liked Bright but I did pickup on the ripoff from Alien nation. Thought that was kind of weak. Especially since the orcs were suppose to have been there for thousands of years…not recent arrivals.

      1. You mentioning that makes me realize that I must not have been paying very close attention. I though it was very hard to follow, so much noise.

  2. I enjoyed the heck out of Bright, which I watched through twice. The first time, it was too dark to show up well on the screen during the day, so re-watching at night was called for. All the comments about the racial angle are true; the relationships between the races, Orc, Elf, and Human, are there to underline current racial relationships, without the overlaid rationalizations we go through.

    I am looking forward to the second in the series. A world where all humans of all human races have to stick together to deal with the elves dominance of society is a breath of fresh air. And where humans engage in uplift of their Orcs brothers is even better.

  3. When I saw the poster for ‘Annihilation’ with the five, count’em, FIVE women in military gear going off to face the unknown I knew that was one movie I would not be seeing. Cause if there was a mysterious threat I’m sure we’d send five women to face it. Right.

  4. Gotta love that it’s mostly virtue-signaling white folks who point out the racial and diversity shortcomings of these films.

    1. I’ve reverted back to a more primitive time when I just watched a movie and to quote that great American philosopher Buffy…Tree Good…Fire Bad.

  5. Annihilation is getting 88% on RT. The trailer made it look stupid and the reviews were embargoed on Monday, and the admission that, oops, hadn’t read the whole thing didn’t help matters, so I hadn’t much hope for this one.

    BTW Portman is Ashkenazi I believe. Many of us *are* part Asian, just deeper down our genomes. I have the 23andme results for that.

    1. I wasn’t going to watch Whisky Tango Foxtrot because of Tina Fey but man was I wrong. If you haven’t seen it for the same reason…watch it and you will be amazed that Tina Fey actually did it…and how she played it.

      I was.

  6. There was a statement made by the Orc cop, Nick, that he acknowledged that a long time ago the orcs had chosen the wrong side in a cataclysmic war and had been enemies with humans ever since. A throw away line, it seemed to me. But if it is part of the story, then the racism in “Bright” is more like the racism seen in the former Yugoslavia, or the tribalism in Africa, where both ethnic groups (or all groups in the case of Yugoslavia) can legitimately claim to have been the victims of horrible atrocities committed by their enemies for centuries. In this universe humans and orcs are each victims and perpetrators of atrocities.

    This is different from the racism AfroAmericans perceive today, which is one sided.

    But the movie does make a point that ending racism really requires individuals to treat those they come in contact with, with respect and civility. This is more like what I understood when I heard Rev. Martin Luther King’s speeches when I was in high school, and it was all I could do, rather than some big, undefined, government law that will make everything different all at once, which is impossible.

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