The current never ending stream of moral panics about “woke” on the right can be predicted with a single two by two grid. The left access is the success axis, successful and unsuccessful. The top is the approval axis, like it and dislike it.
Now lets look at some real examples, starting with the top right-Top Gun Maverick.
That outlets like the Daily Wire, Breitbart, and their lockstep followers at Fox News have described the release of Top Gun: Maverick as both a rare occurrence and a rare win for Hollywood is both absurd and telling. Of course people like Tomi Lahren need to emphasize the “traditional” (read: white and male-skewing) nature of Top Gun: Maverick; it’s in their best interests to gin up outrage, and sometimes real-world violence, based on the idea that white people are being replaced – and that “real Americans” won’t stand for it. Somehow, a hit sequel to a hit movie from 35 years ago affirms everything the right wing has been saying about popular culture – or, really, the whole world.
The reality is that Top Gun: Maverick has a far more diverse cast than the original 1986 Top Gun had. And those praising it didn’t notice nor care about it being diverse.
Moving along to the top left, something successful but disliked. Something like the M&M mascots.
Now the M&M’s manufacturer is introducing a new “spokescandy”, a purple peanut M&M that the company says represents “acceptance and inclusivity”, but has instead sparked online backlash once again for being too “woke” and trying to ram the company’s message down people’s throats.
But it isn’t just candy being forced down our throats.
Simply proposing a rule change is categorized as shoving EVs down our throats. A rule change that will have to go through all the normal rule change reviews by small-D democratic institutions. And unlike M&Ms, EVs do not melt in your mouth.
For the bottom left, let’s think back to the perfect example of something canceled by the woke mob: Dr. Seuss.
On what would have been Geisel’s 116th birthday on March 2, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that six of the author’s titles would be pulled from publication, starting with his first book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” as well as “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “On Beyond Zebra!” The objectionable content includes an offensive Chinese caricature in “Mulberry Street” and offensive African caricatures in “If I Ran the Zoo.” In a statement, Dr. Seuss Enterprises called the removal “part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” adding that, “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
The one simple truth is that those books were allowed to go out of print because no one was buying them. And yet, this was described as a woke mob canceling the treasured childhood books. What stands out, from Lorax to Sneetches to Butter Battle is how unbelievably, unapologetically woke Dr. Seuss could be. While he drew some regrettable illustrations-and outright WW2 propaganda, his more memorable work was woke A.F. It incredibly clear to me that if his works were out of print and being reissued, those exact same conservatives would be describing it as being shoved down their throats.
And for an example of something unpopular and unsuccessful, there is Disney. And Tim Pool on the bottom Right.
Tim Pool reacts to Disney carrying out layoffs of its global staff arguing that it is a result of “wokeness” at the company and saying they need a return to “…American traditional values.” Pool then takes a look at Disney’s profits and sees that they’ve made a record amount of money since their last reporting period.
Tim is certain that Disney’s layoffs are due to an anti-woke backlash. And Tim is humiliated in real time as he reads the rest of the article.
Why did Buzz Lightyear fail? Woke. Did Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow fail because they were too long and released during the pandemic? Nope, it was the Woke that did them in. And this is an unfalsifiable claim, you simply can not prove it wasn’t the woke.
All four of these takes are bad takes. They are lazy and do not hold up to even cursory analysis. But when you goal is to farm outrage, they work just fine while you wait for the next moral panic.