There’s two unwritten rules when it comes to today’s Woke Police.
“Booksmart,” the new “Superbad”-style comedy, breaks both of them.
- You can never be woke enough
- Get woke, go broke
The latter just became a reality when the comedy snared a measly $8.6 million over the extended holiday weekend. For comparison’s sake, “Superbad” earned $33 million during its opening weekend back in 2007.
The films follow a remarkably similar path. Both feature high school buddies chasing down a gnarly party. “Superbad” cast Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, while “Booksmart” boasts Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein (Hill’s younger sister).
“Booksmart” is obsessed with today’s woke culture. The main female characters embrace every feminist cliche possible. The screenplay reads like a lecture on intersectionality. The leads are so supportive of each other it’s laughable, but it’s not meant to be funny.
Amazing, the film itself is smart, funny and winning.
Once upon a time, that would be enough. We don’t live in those times anymore.
Enter BuzzFeed, The far-left site slammed “Booksmart” for ignoring the raging class issues on display in the narrative.
“Booksmart” Has a Blind Spot When It Comes to Class,” the article’s headline shouts.
The piece opens with the oh, so obvious praise about the film’s gender and social politics. But sadly there’s a “but” heading our way.
The movie is generous in exploring how high school may have become a kinder, more progressive place in some ways and not changed at all in others. But there’s one area where it doesn’t feel of the moment, and that’s when it comes to acknowledging its underlying class dynamics, and how much privilege can impact what gets interpreted as intelligence, or achievement (or make up for the lack of it).
As Maxwell Smart might say, “missed it by that much…”
The movie’s narrative finds the teen stars surly that they skipped high school parties to make the best grades possible. Meanwhile, their fun-loving classmates managed to get into the same Ivy League schools they did … but had a blast in the process.
The Felicity Huffman/Lori Loughlin college scandal made the class issue unavoidable, says BuzzFeed.
…the movie’s blithe treatment of the college acceptance grind feels startlingly out of step with the national conversations we’ve been having about higher ed more recently. The fact that a bunch of moneyed Californians recently went down for attempting to bribe their mostly oblivious offspring into name-brand colleges only throws that into starker relief.
Remember, if you’re making a teen comedy you must address all the applicable ills facing society, even those breaking long after production wraps. Anything less is just plain irresponsible.
The idea that most of us really do have to work that hard to compete with those who have advantages that we never will — and that we still might not get what we want — is less comfortable as the stuff of comedy. But it’s a lot closer to the truth.
Maybe the sequel will address this serious omission. Then again, any alleged sequel might do something else wrong, too, according to the Woke Police.
UPDATE: Media outlets are scrambling to explain away “Booksmart’s” box office failure to date. Enter The Mary Sue, the wokest of woke web sites.
The site just so happens to agree with BuzzFeed. This teen comedy didn’t go all the way.
Now, as a disclaimer, I did very much enjoy Booksmart. I thought it was fun and heartfelt, despite between very white and very privileged, which has been the case for a lot of the coming-of-age movies that have gained mainstream popularity … While there have been several coming-of-age stories featuring women of color, the reality is that they do not get the mainstream fanfare that movies like Booksmart get.
Yes, there’s currently a “Booksmart” backlash because it got too much media attention. The article continues…
Booksmart reflects a very specific type of white, upper-middle-class environment, where somehow almost every character is able to get into an Ivy League school and there happens to be a lot of men of color, but the only visible woman of color is Jessica Williams, who plays the almost Magical Nergo-type “cool teacher” that is almost too much at the beginning.
It wouldn’t be a woke update without the word “feels,” so here you go.
I would encourage everyone to see Booksmart; it’s a delightful movie, and it game me a lot of positive feels, but we also need to recognize that celebrating diversity and representation can’t just be a movie with two white female leads, even if one of them is a lesbian. That’s a low, low bar.
For this Mary Sue scribe, anything less than two queer teens of color (potentially disabled and/or transitioning) isn’t enough.
Here’s another woke soul eager to play the … wait for it … “loquacious white girl” card against the film.
I’m sure Booksmart is great. I will see it at some point and enjoy it but honestly I don’t care about loquacious white girls in high school. That is not at the top of my entertainment list today. And it is up against Endgame, John Wick and Alladin.
— roxane gay (@rgay) May 27, 2019