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What Is Woke? One Sound Bite Can’t Capture It All

Corrupt journalists, desperate to deny woke’s toxic impact, lie some more

Author Bethany Mandel is getting the Fake News treatment for attempting to define the term “woke.”

Mandel, who wrote “Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocent and Indoctrinating a Generation” with Karol Markowicz, initially stumbled when asked to explain woke during an appearance on “The Hill Rising.”

She quickly found her bearings and said:

“It is sort of the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression. Sorry I, it’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite.”

She’s right on both counts. It’s a challenge to sum woke up in a media-friendly snippet, which is what show guests are routinely asked to do in interview settings. She still captured its essence.

The corrupt media went into a frenzy all the same, saying she “flopped,” “struggled” and was “speechless” while answering the question.

For those playing at home, that’s “not accurate,” “mostly accurate” and “a complete lie,” respectively. By modern journalism standards, it’s as close to the truth as you’ll get.

Let’s set the record straight on woke, at least as it pertains to Hollywood.


The shorter definition: Woke means interrupting the creative flow to insert anything from well-meaning asides to outright lectures into stories bound for TV, the printed page of the big screen. It shortcircuits the imagination by making artists fear telling the wrong stories in the wrong ways. It compels them to ignore reality while injecting overtly progressive, often radical themes like so-called “systemic racism” into the fictional narratives we see and stream.

You wont find a better example of the latter than Disney+’s “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” episode on Juneteenth. (Go to the 2:20 minute mark)

Listen to “HiT 153 Breitbart’s John Nolte Unleashes on Netflix, Woke Overreach” on Spreaker.

Woke slowly, and then swiftly, overtook Hollywood in recent years. It’s difficult to pinpoint when it crept into the frame, but a solid case can be made courtesy of the 2016 dud “Ghostbusters.” Hollywood took a beloved property, made it an all-female reboot, and expected the culture to embrace it with the same vigor applied to the 1984 original, sight unseen.

If not more.

An all-female “Ghostbusters” was meant to smite the PatriarchyTM, prove female stars could anchor a summer blockbuster and give little girls a reason to study science at long last.

Yes, without fictional, female ghost hunters little girls will ignore the sciences and become stay-at-home mums (and, gasp, vote Republican).

Except consumers cried foul over the diverse casting switcheroo, at least a loud enough minority did to catch the media’s attention. They wanted an older, wiser Bill Murray, not four female stars with dubious box office chops.

Reporters dubbed the critics sexist without digging deeper into the issue, showing how journalists helped Hollywood embrace woke from the very beginning.


When the film’s awful, no-good trailer dropped, the die was cast. This is a clunker. And, despite grossing more than $100 million at the U.S. box office, Sony reportedly swallowed a $70+ million loss from the film.

GHOSTBUSTERS - Official Trailer (HD)

Woke had its toehold in pop culture, and it only got worse from there. Hollywood product must reflect far-Left culture, and anyone who objects is a racist, sexist, homophobic, fill-in-the-blank-ist clod.

Woke takes on many forms in Hollywood. The industry’s bigoted past, which kept many women and people of color on the sidelines, guilted executives to over-compensate. Now, we watch period films where black actors interact with white co-stars and no one notices anything odd.

“See How They Run” offers a good example of this policy.

SEE HOW THEY RUN | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

Sadly, that era’s racism proved stifling, so we’re immediately taken out of the story by noticing the conflicting realities.

Dwayne Johnson’s Alpha Male hero in “Jungle Cruise” offers another example. Johnson’s rogue hero accepts a new friend’s gay lifestyle mid-movie, even though a character from that era would most likely recoil at the confession.

Or worse.

It’s a reveal that didn’t need to be in the movie, but its inclusion shows a woke storyteller trying to send a message that clashes with the story, the time period and the film’s otherwise brisk pace.

That’s Woke 101, a pure virtue signal for Hollywood’s progressive overseers.

Woke leads to gender-swap projects which mostly flop. Think “Life of the Party,” “High Fidelity,” “The Hustle” and more. Did these projects suffer a creative droop behind the scenes, with the artists in charge thinking the gender switch would be enough to lure in audiences?

It’s hard to say, but the results have been mostly terrible and did little to empower female creators.


Woke’s biggest impact has been on comedy. Hollywood no longer produces big, bawdy romps that crush the box office and become streaming staples. Remember “Step Brothers,” “The Hangover” franchise, “Bridesmaids,” “Old School,” “Wedding Crashers,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “American Pie?”

Straightforward comedies are rare these days, and few match the excellence of those examples. You have to find laughter in superhero entries with comedic elements (“Shazam!” “Thor Ragnarok”) or horror comedies (“Violent Night”).

Woke dictates what jokes can and can’t be told, what targets can be hit and which ones must be shielded at all costs.

Problematic anti-heroes of like John Belushi’s Bluto of “Animal House” fame are no longer permitted. Podcast giant Joe Rogan said it best. The woke mob thinks displaying outrageous behavior is somehow suggesting it’s acceptable, so those characters can no longer populate big-screen comedies.

More than one comic mastermind has reminded us their best work is no longer possible in today’s woke climate. Steve Carell of “The Office” said precisely that.

Norman Lear’s sitcom “All in the Family” is considered one of the art form’s highest achievements, and it couldn’t be made today.

Why? Woke. And few, if any, would deny it. Does anything think that’s progress?

TV Writer Norman Lear: ‘All In The Family’ Could Not Be On Network TV Today | TODAY

Woke’s impact on stand-up comedy has been even more profound. Comedians now self-censor to remain employed. Others know their “problematic” jokes will prevent them from late-night appearances or other studio perks, forcing them to create alternative careers on the outskirts of show business.

Some comedians even attack their peers who aren’t deemed sufficiently woke.

It must be said that there’s plenty of truth behind the “Get woke, go broke” mantra which Hollywood has mostly ignored up until now.

Woke failures abound.

  • “Charlie’s Angels”
  • “West Side Story”
  • “Terminator: Dark Fate”
  • “Party of One” reboot
  • “Willow”
  • “Lightyear”
  • “To the End”
  • “Bros”
  • “Eternals”
  • “Empire of Light”
  • “Strange World”
  • “The Problem with Jon Stewart”

Why would the media pounce and seize on Mandel’s partially accurate definition of woke? They fear what the American people really think of the word and what it represents. And, to be fair, some conservatives have over-used the term as a broad cudgel to attack any progressive initiative.

A higher minimum wage, for example, isn’t woke. It’s part of the Democratic playbook and speaks to the party’s core values. Slamming a critic of wage increases as a racist, on the other hand, is a core woke tactic.

The cultural tide may be turning against the toxic woke revolution. The recent Oscars ceremony dialed down the woke and focused on entertainment. The upcoming Superman film reboot is bringing back, “Truth, Justice and the American way,” the iconic motto that powered the character for decades in the pre-woke era.

Studios and platforms are canceling woke content after poor early ratings (“Willow”) or even before the projects can reach the public (Meghan Markle’s “Pearl,” Warner Bros. Discovery’s “Batgirl”).

The war on woke, alas, is only beginning.

Someone recently suggested woke is like pornography. You know it when you see it. Americans are seeing it more and more these days, and many are saying they don’t like it one bit.

That explains the media’s hyperventilating over a less than succinct definition and a rush to change the subject, and fast.


  1. @Christian Toto

    Sorry, but like Bethany Mandel you still don’t understand woke.

    Decades ago, African Americans first coined the slang term woke, which simply meant to be vigilant and not blindly swallow any narrative out there. Maj Toure explains in detail here.

    Unfortunately, White Leftists hijacked the term and refined it as being synonymous with Far-Left ideology. White conservatives then embraced the Leftist redefinition of woke instead of doing research on the term’s true origins. This was not wise.

  2. The amount of work to produce this article is appreciated. Quite a bit of thought had to go into defining all the soul destroying methods used to virtue signal by progressives. I’m always after the results, though. And, for that, we can just use a flat line.

  3. Woke has stated with female empowerment and morphed with BLM into DEI and now attacks historical truths with CRT. They’re consistent with Communism since the Left attacks it’s own. Cancel culture started with the Right and goes after the Left. BTW, the Left claims cancel culture and CRT doesn’t exist either. Denial and gaslighting is their weapon.

    1. Yep, and the evil Wade Henderson is one of the biggest gaslighters, judging by his tweet we saw in the article.

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