Is There The ‘woke’ Culture That Todd Phillips Complains About?

The premiere of Joker is giving much to talk about. The eight-minute ovation she received after her screening at the Venice Festival and the unexpected achievement of the Golden Lion collide, collide with the tide of articles that criticize her for an alleged extolling of violence. The detractors of this film have even come to call it "incel-friendly." That is to say, that it communicates with the ideas of this extremist group of white cisheterosexual men that originated in the United States in response to the movement of discriminated groups and that is behind some of the country's recent shootings.

Its director, Todd Phillips, has spoken with Vanity Fair about why he has abandoned comedy to focus on this movie, clearly dark and twisted: “It's hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. It can not. So all you can say is "I retire." For Phillips, the negative response on the networks is the reason why comedies in general no longer work, and his own in particular: "All funny uncles are in the plan" to take for the ass, I don't want to offer offenders. "

Phillips argues that he has left the comedy to not enter into discussions on Twitter, but his new film has achieved the opposite. None of his previous films had received so much attention, much less so much social turmoil. As absurd as the humor used in the trilogy of films that happened to Resacón in Las Vegas, none of them was as relevant as Joker is being in this regard.


Warner Bros. Pictures

His biggest obstacle to continue in the world of comedy is what Phillips himself has called as a "woke" culture, a concept that is not easy to transfer to Spanish. The closest expression we can find in our culture would be that of "offenders" – if we go a few years back, it may enter the term "progression" umbrella. It is a pejorative used to designate those who point out the small acts of discrimination that occur every day, especially in social networks and in relation to language.

The term "woke" became popular thanks to the #BlackLivesMatter

However, the "woke" cannot be extrapolated with such ease. The origin of the term is found in an Erykah Badu song from just over ten years ago. In it, the American singer talks about a more egalitarian and racism-free world. Use the expression "stay woke" for the first time as a metaphor to indicate that you should never let your guard down; They must remain alert and be vigilant with the system. In 2014, the hashtag #staywoke reappeared from the hand of #BlackLivesMatter, following the murder of a young black man in the United States by a police officer who was later found not guilty.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The expression was a call to the black community in the United States so that the official statements regarding acts of racism were not believed at first, and a way of saying "take care, sleep with one eye open." But, as did the #TimesUp or the expression "cancel", it ended up becoming global and reaching other social struggles. Its original meaning has not faded, but it coexists with another connotation, that of mockery. Many racialized activists use “woke” to make fun of those who believe they are allies in the anti-racist movement, but who have not reviewed their privileges and continue to commit acts of racism, with or without intention.

Can't you do comedy anymore?

“All my comedies are irreverent”

"Woke" is also used as Todd Phillips has done in these statements: to complain about the "lack of freedom" when proposing offensive jokes. According to the director, you can no longer be "funny in the times of woke culture." “All my comedies – and I think it's something that all comedies in general have in common – are irreverent. So I say to myself «How do I do something irreverent, but give it to comedy? Ah, I know, let's take the world of comics and give it a twist with this ». And that's where it comes from (this movie), ”Phillips has revealed.

Let's put aside that catching one of the most recognized villains worldwide and playing with the figure of the antihero is not, by far, the most original strategy. The rest of his speech does not fit the facts either. And it is not realistic to say that humor can no longer be made when Phoebe Waller Bridge has just taken home four Emmy awards for Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge plays more than one sensitive stick in Fleabag

The Amazon Prime series is the perfect example that comedy can be done, but that, like any other genre, that comedy has to evolve. What made us laugh forty years ago is not the same thing that makes us laugh now, for a matter as simple as society advances, changes and is constantly transformed. If you can say something about Fleabag is that it is uncomfortable. Waller-Bridge touches more than one sensitive stick with a mastery that makes you question your own way of understanding the world.

Fleabag speaks of feminism, of the Catholic religion, of sex, of money, and as a consequence of politics, of the myth of the middle class, of appearances and of the family. He proposes us to a protagonist who is the true antiheroine of this decade: a woman in her thirties, ruined and unable to establish healthy personal relationships, whose most lapidatory phrase is "I would not be so feminist if I had the biggest tits."

This is just one example of so many. The same Emmy gala that recognized Waller-Bridge's work rewarded Bill Hader for another comedy, Barry. We cannot forget humor either – irreverently, as Phillips likes it – from The Good Place, in which Michael Schur is even able to strain philosophy lessons. The creator himself has spent decades delighting us with some of the best sitcoms: Parks & Recreation, The Office and Brooklyn 99.

Not to mention the controversial Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, who uses musical numbers to laugh at feminism, sexuality and mental health. If Rachel Bloom can carry out a song as critical as “Let’s generalize about men”, it’s that you can make humor on any subject.

Is there a "woke" culture?

Freedom of expression is not dead

Yes and no. There is a movement around the expression #staywoke that has been stretched and degenerated as do all the initiatives of the style in social networks. There is a growing awareness of the importance of words, and of using language responsibly. What does not exist is no police officer of the "politically correct" that prohibits Todd Phillips from making the mood he wants. Freedom of expression is not dead, but you should be aware that your films will generate a response and be willing to take responsibility for using racist or misogynistic jokes, for example.

At the moment, Phillips has already benefited in more ways than one in the wake of the controversy. For the first time in a long time – perhaps only "for the first time" – its name makes the headlines of all cultural media. Joker has generated so much expectation that it is unlikely to hit the ball at the box office, at least the first weekend. The real details of the plot have been kept in the dark for the same purpose, and it is already known that there are those who prefer to talk about one, even if they speak badly.