There are many bewildering things about the madness which we call ‘wokism’ – an ugly neologism to begin with. Two questions about it tower above all others, one of which is giving me nightmares. The first is, where did it all come from? The second, the nightmarish one, is where will it all end?
Bari Weiss, as you probably know, is one of its victims, having jumped from the New York Times when the incursion of the trolls into the echelons of the paper made her efforts to bring a degree of balance to its opinion pages all but fruitless.
That did not mean she was going to run and hide. She went out in a blaze of defiance with a devastating inditement of the paper which she had tried to redeem. Her open resignation letter to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger made world news. Has it made any difference? It is too early to say. That we can’t answer the question yet is part of my nightmare. So-called progressivism, in which wokism is deeply embedded, marches onward and downward into imbecility.
After her NYT exit Bari Weiss is up on he feet again and and fighting on many fronts. She is being listened to in online interviews, she is writing columns and piloting a lifeboat away from a doomed ship of fools. She and a few more such give us hope. To keep in touch with what she is doing – talking good old common sense – you can subscribe to her newsletter, Common Sense with Bari Weiss, on Substack. Since March 1, 2021, she has also worked as a regular columnist for Die Welt.
In her latest Common Sense newsletter she tackles the folly in progress at Amazon.
Amazon Studios’ new inclusion policy is vaunted by stenographers – a.k.a. mindless woke clones – in the mainstream media. Its goal is that by 2024, 50% of creative roles in its movies and shows will be filled by women or people of colour.
Okay, that’s their business and they should be free to organise it in whatever way they see fit – within the law, of coruse. But when they move into different territory we really do have a right to ask ourselves, what is this product I am getting in my living room? Is Amazon in the business of giving us genuine artistic creations or is its a social engineering organisation masquerading under an artistic banner?
Digging into its documentation Weiss finds the studio declaring that it will in future try to cast actors whose identity — “gender, gender identity, nationality, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability” — matches that of the characters they play. She wonders how Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” or the sea monster from “The Shape of Water” would be slotted.
By now, this is a familiar story, she writes: Amazon is turning the making of TV and film into the same woke numbers game played at every other elite institution. (Exhibit A: Sixty-eight percent of the students admitted to Princeton’s class of 2025 self-identify as “people of color.”)
Even if we were to give the forces behind this relentless drive the benefit of our doubts about their good intentions, the nighmarish thing about it all is that we are being sucked into a massive brainwashing machine by continuing to subscribe to Amazon Prime Video, bingeing on products that are not programmes but programmers programming all of us. We are assured by them that, “the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion requires all of us to disrupt (the) biases, and the longstanding customs and practices in the industry, in order to achieve real, lasting change. This work is not easy to do, but don’t worry, we’re in this together.”
Latasha Gillespie (below) is Executive Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios and she tells us her plan.
“Amazon Studios has long prioritized telling innovative and inclusive stories from a diverse range of creative talent, delighting our global audiences. We wanted to move beyond good intentions to creating mechanisms that hold us accountable to a high bar. This Inclusion Policy and Inclusion Playbook adds important, additional depth and guidance for our internal teams and external partners to ensure we continue to advance our shared mission of amplifying the best creatives and content around the world,”
In the middle of all this is an organisation called The Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE – pronounced “tie”), describing itself as a consortium of working TV writers spanning staff writer to showrunner. We know first-hand the challenges faced by underrepresented TV writers (Women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled People) because TTIE is comprised of underrepresented writers from all of these communities.
As the only intersectional social change organization that advocates within the entertainment industry for a diverse cross-section of underrepresented communities, TTIE is uniquely situated to empower underrepresented writers and transform the industry into one in which all writers and all stories can thrive.
All this sounds benign and well intentioned. However, our alternative media feeds tell us the stories of the victims of these good intentions, the silencing, the cancelling and the sacking of voices which even ask mild questions about what is going on. To adapt an adage, our hell may be being paved with these good intentions.
Weiss read through Amazon Studios’ Inclusion Playbook, designed “to help disrupt the biases that occur across the lifecycle of a series or movie, from the first inkling of a concept to viewers streaming the content on Prime Video.” The playbook directed her to a factsheet that she thought might help improve her familiarity with all things diverse and inclusive.
There is where you will get some glimpse of its brainwashing programme, all about how do deal with things like: acquired limb difference (otherwise known as “amputation”). There’s an entry on mean girls, which, she learned, was a “stereotype of girls and young women characterizing them as socially aggressive and unkind” —characterizations that, apparently, not only “enforce the bad behavior” but “fail to address the larger social issues girls and women face like insecurity, lack of confidence, and pressure to fit the ‘feminine beauty ideal.’”
Outside the Amazon box – or any other corporate bubble infected by these holier-than-thou missionaries – there are, thankfully, people telling us that the king has no clothes on.
Weiss cites Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon who offers the following insight: wokeness is, almost always, a smokescreen. By focusing the attention and energy of the rich and powerful on say, whether using the word Latinx is preferable to Hispanic, we let them off the hook for actually doing something about the fact that Latinos remain more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as whites and Asians.
Batya put it to this way: “‘Doing the work’ means hiring diversity specialists to call their children white supremacists in a prep school class they can put it on their transcript to help their chances of getting into Harvard. It has absolutely nothing to do with asking those who could actually make a difference with regard to true inequality to sacrifice anything of themselves.”
And how did the strange marriage between wokeness and corporate America take place? The answer to that, the less frightening of my two questions, will not be found, she says, in the mainstream press, but it’s an important subject and she tells us that there are two books coming out over the next few months that take it up.
The first, out in August, is called “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam” by Vivek Ramaswamy. This past weekend, he was the subject of a Wall Street Journal profile. Ramaswamy told the Journal that the alliance was forged in the years following the 2008 financial collapse:
The birth of wokeism was a godsend to corporations, Mr. Ramaswamy says. It helped defang the left. “Wokeism lent a lifeline to the people who were in charge of the big banks. They thought, ‘This stuff is easy!’ ” They applauded diversity and inclusion, appointed token female and minority directors, and “mused about the racially disparate impact of climate change.” So, in Mr. Ramaswamy’s narrative, “a bunch of big banks got together with a bunch of millennials, birthed woke capitalism, and then put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption.” Now, in Mr. Ramaswamy’s tart verdict, “big business makes money by critiquing itself.”
So, ironically, Marxist inspired progressivism and wokeness have been weaponised by the very demons the Frankfurt School had hoped to undermine when they set us on this path 70 years ago.
The other book, which is being published in October, is by the Newsweek editor I quote above, Batya Ungar-Sargon. It’s called “Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.” For obvious reasons, I can’t wait to read it.