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Wokeness is toxic to show business. And yet…

I am so over the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek, like Star Wars, is an intellectual zombie, a parody of when it was alive, before it was bitten and infected with a virus. Consign the wretched thing to history and move on, there are other new, fresh and genuinely engaging series out there.

Wokeness murdered the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, to wit the recent dreadful outing as ‘Picard‘.

And yet, Tatiana Maslany’s tour de force ‘Orphan Black‘ (link: massive spoilers) demonstrated you can make a show Woke-as-fuck that is still clever and really innovative: I enjoyed it in spite of the Wokeness. Yet both Star Wars/Star Trek descended into badly made absurdities (I admit I stopped watching Star Wars anything after the execrable The Last Jedi).

So was it ‘Wokeness’ per se that actually zombified those two franchises? Or the fact people got hired to make these expensive clusterfucks on the basis they were Woke, rather than actually being any good at, well, making shows?

Discuss.

37 comments to Wokeness is toxic to show business. And yet…

  • Roué le Jour

    The obvious difference between, say, Orphan Black and Star etc. is that one was written from a female perspective initially whereas the woke failures were written for male leads which were then simply swapped for females.

  • Ferox

    I don’t care so much about organic wokeness in a show; that is, I think you could have an interesting character whose flaw was that they saw everything through some dysfunctional social justice lens.

    But I don’t care to be hit over the head with clumsy moralizing when I am watching a TV show or movie. No thanks. And especially when the sermon is as cringe-inducingly obvious and heavy-handed as a temperance diatribe from some calico-clad blob-armed Karen in a fancy hat.

  • Not convinced gender swaps necessarily matter, although I would have to agree it is often a flashing danger sign 😆

    One of my fav movies The Wind & the Lion was (very) loosely based on real events, but with the kidnap victim swapped to be an attractive female rather than a beardy bloke. Probably does make the story & relationship with the Rasuli more interesting. If remade now, the Rasuli would be female & end up in a lesbian relationship with Eden Pedecaris 🙄

    My problems with Star War are the characters are poorly constructed (I just could not give a damn about Rey or anyone else) & the plots were utterly preposterous, indeed unintentionally funny in all the wrong ways. That Rey was a Mary Sue need not have been a problem if she was well written & progressed into Mary Sue-ness in an internally logical manner. But no, she was just Uber Female pretty much from the kick off, because reasons, which vastly diminished the impact of the Bad Guys she kept defeating. And WTF did they do to Luke Skywalker’s character? In what galaxy far, far away did a scriptwriting committee think that was going to be a good idea?

    My problem with Star Trek though is really about how very badly constructed the characters are, and bizarre character interactions, rather than the stories as such. ‘Michael’ in ST:Discovery is not just loathsome, people’s reactions to her are inexplicable. In Picard, the story was horribly structured & appallingly executed, but the basic underpinning plot was not a terrible idea in and of itself, it was just terribly done. And nothing mattered as the characters were preposterous, unlikable & unrecognisable. Oh, and the Diverse Female the Picard story revolves around only at the last moment decides… nah, on second thoughts, I won’t commit galaxy wide genocide after all. Why not? Dunno, just because. And she is one of the ‘good guys’ 😳

    What kind of people write this shit? 😆

  • Roué le Jour

    Perry,
    I’m sure you know what I’m getting at if I say: identify a much loved male character, rewrite as a female, demand the same love.

    My reaction to e.g. “hey, let’s remake Inspector Morse as a woman” etc. etc. is if you don’t have the imagination to make up your own damn characters you probably don’t have the imagination to tell a good story, either.

    I also think there is an annoying validation. “It’s OK to be an adult woman without a husband or children, look, here’s a story about them.” In the future, if all women are strong and independent, where do babies come from?

    Sorry if I’ve drifted off a bit but I don’t have access to Picard and I’m too old for Star Wars.

  • Fraser Orr

    It is worth pointing out that Star Trek has always been a bit “woke” in a kind of 1960s way. After all the prime directive is that you can’t interfere in other people’s cultures even if that means leaving them to all die in a civil war or mass disese epidemic.

    In ST, they don’t have money, supposedly governments have eliminated poverty and want. Rather people strive to better themselves (whatever that means.) And it seems that the society is profoundly hiearchical from the ships captain down, to the United Federation of Planets dictating law across the galaxy. The little people of Bajor have to be sacrificed for the greater good, after all. And who are the ulitimate comical villans? Why the Ferengi, a parody of the capitalists of course. People who are characterized the way lefties think that capitalists actually are.

    And it all stems from one fundamental idea in Star Trek, much beloved of he Woke. That is — you are what your genes tell you you are. Are you Klingon? Well obviously you are an honor bound killing machine. Are you Romulan? Obviously you are a mendacious murdering thug. Are you a Ferengi, you are obviously a thieving, scheming slimeball. Are you a Cadassian, a Vulcan, a Human? In all cases your race determine what you are.

    On the flip side, they do portray the “collective” of the Borg a fate worse than death. So I guess they have that going for them.

    FWIW I never liked Star Wars. Everything about it seemed utterly preposterous to me. The only thing I liked about Star Wars was Slave Girl Princess Leia in the gold bikini. And not only because Ms. Fisher was easy on the eyes, but rather, the rather unreported fact that that slave girl took the chain around her neck and used it to strangle to death the guy who was enslaving her. That is my kind of Princess.

  • To address the question, I think you’re on to something. It’s not wokeness as such that makes so much popular movie & TV making complete crap, its that the wokesters get promoted for all the wrong reasons, which is why they’re so damn bad at making movies & TV shows!

    Maybe its just as well these asswipes aren’t better at what they do because Leni Riefenstahl or Sergei Eisenstein they ain’t 😆

  • John

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching the YouTube review by Critical Drinker which the “Picard” reference links to. So much so that I also watched CD’s review of the disaster that Doctor Who has become.

    Although ambivalent towards Star Trek I would never have watched Picard anyway as I am far from ambivalent about Patrick “I was born in Bermondsey” Stewart.

  • K

    Yes, it’s a shame when the youtube critics of movies have more entertainment value than the actual “blockbusters”. With CGI and low priced HD cameras continually becoming cheaper and more available I’m wondering when good stories from a more traditional pro-liberty POV start making their way into the intertubes and into our living rooms. It’s even possible to have good stories with little or no SFX which are still fun to watch. This is from the 70s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlk9qo6z-W4

  • Mr Ecks

    If it peddles socialist cockrot then it is shite no matter how well it is written. And it is written with the pen filled with the blood of the 150 million poor bastards socialismo has put in the ground so far.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It is worth pointing out that Star Trek has always been a bit “woke” in a kind of 1960s way.”

    Very much so. A large part of the moral message it conveyed (fundamentally, Star Trek was a series of contemporary morality takes set in outer space) was about tolerance for other cultures, and the advantages of humanity – loyalty, empathy, cooperation, freedom – over cold rationality and rule-following. A lot of its most revolutionary innovations in that area barely get noticed, nowadays. They had black people and women in positions of authority, even officers on the bridge, they had the first interracial kiss, they had aliens treated as equals, as friends even.

    The alien cultures provided the subject matter for this tolerance. Humanity was united, it would be at odds with the theme to have inter-human prejudice. This was contrasted with more ‘primitive’ cultures out of Earth’s history – the Romulans were of course the Roman empire, the Klingons were based on warrior cultures like the Japanese Samurai and the Vikings. The Ferengi are often identified as being based on stereotypes about the Jews, (although it is claimed by the writers that they were actually intended to represent 20th century Europeans, if you can believe that).

    Numerous storylines tended to be along the lines of alien acts according to their stereotyped culture, humans show their compassionate, loyal, tolerant characteristics – aliens are converted to more friendly and tolerant ways as a result. Worf becomes a friendly Klingon. Quark becomes a loyally friendly Ferengi. Seven of Nine is a friendly Borg. Their stories are all about the conflict between their traditional culture, and loyalty to their human friends. They never quite abandon their original culture – it’s what gives them interest as a character – but they abandon the worst, least ‘human’ (in the loyalty/compassion/moral sense of the word) parts of it.

    Nor are they required to. This is what the Prime Directive was about – not imposing our culture on others by force, not interfering in their cultural development, allowing them to be what they are, tolerating differences. “Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own.” They were not pacifists – they would use force to defend the weak and helpless – but except where needed the rule was tolerance of other cultures, no matter how alien – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

    So you could say that Star Trek shared the goals of the Woke from the very start, but differed in their methods. You persuaded people to become more tolerant by demonstrating friendship and loyalty and tolerance yourself, not by being coercively intolerant of their differing culture and attitudes.

    Star Trek of course started in the 1960s, when the culture was very different. Attitudes were different – to race, sex equality, shortness of miniskirts, and approaches to courtship that would now be considered sexual harassment bordering on sexual assault. We’ve gone so far in that direction that what would back then be seen as outlandishly progressive might be mistaken today for being reassuringly traditionalist and regressive. The way Kirk would chase every bit of alien totty to come along, the way he would always end up in some bar-room brawl and get his shirt ripped. It looks outdated and anachronistic. (Much like what would then have looked like super-hi-tech cool communicators today looks like a really naff mobile phone. And every supermarket now has sliding doors that open as you approach.) It was a mixture of John Wayne Western-style adventure to attract the audience and progressive morality tale to convert them. And as our culture has moved on, so has the message.

    We remember the adventure. The allegory perhaps used to be more in the background. We were young then, and the young are usually a lot more progressive than the old. And we have perhaps grown better at spotting it. But the progressive morality was always there.

  • neonsnake

    the execrable The Last Jedi

    Thing with The Last Jedi, was that it was filled with fantastic ideas, executed very badly.

    Rey was a no-one?? AMAZING!

    The Force was available to everyone? BRILLIANT!

    The scene where Yoda burns the tree? GENIUS!

    …and then all the feebs lost their collective little mind at the idea that anyone can (should) be a hero, because they need this fiction that says that *someone else, born into it* needs to be the hero (not them, of course. They can’t help it that they’re not the chosen one, so they don’t need to step up), and we ended up with Rise Of Skywalker.

    And we’re back into Chosen One shite.

    Pathetic.

  • I’ve repeatedly noticed in detective series, SF series, etc, that while standard background minor wokeness can coexist with a competent plot, a serious uptick in wokeness above the series’ level almost invariably coincides with a truly dreadful plot. I am fussy about plot coherence in general, and review with other viewers from time to time, and I’m pretty sure it’s not just me being more critical when it’s more woke, strong though that temptation is – it is a genuine and strong correlation.

    For a golden oldie example, does anyone remember the original star trek where a race that was black on the left side and white on right side hated a race that was white on the left side and black on the right side. The two raced cohabited on a planet in the ‘southern’ part of the galaxy (yes, Spock actually said that!) and no-one ever asked how any member of these mutually-destroying people ever managed to look in a mirror without committing suicide. 🙂 This is absolutely typical of the dismal standard of these occasional extra-woke plots in a ton of series I recall.

    In SF, one major problem is that the writer is often so tremblingly aware of the contemporary issue to which they have forced a far-future alien analogy that they cannot reason about the far-future alien thing, cannot handle it at all in its own terms. Over decades where every SF series had several such bad-apple episodes in the mix, I recall precisely one episode (a DS9 plot, analogising 1950s southern racism) where the writer handled it with some discretion.

    Another issue (this one in detective stories and suchlike quite as much as in SF) is they can appear sufficiently wary of cancel-culture, even as they serve the cause, sufficiently averse to seeming even to hint one less-than-hate-filled moment about the ‘wrong’ side, that opportunities for dramatic tension, surprise or mere sane handling of character, are ruthlessly jettisoned. The basic rule not to telegraph your plot can be wholly sacrificed to never off-message, or the red herrings are unbelievably crude and obvious.

    As against those (and other) points, a story can be straightforwardly woke and yet have some entertainment value in its own terms. Much of Avatar’s plot was a straightforward transplant of PC myth history and economics to another planet. The Pandoran natives were PC myth of native tribes in America’s past. The film’s economic view combined purest PC US-past myth with the liberal zero-sum idea that wealth is never created, just exploited – the combination of these two ideas creating the baked-in conflict. The human base on Pandora was a PC myth of America’s present – a high-minded but alas subordinate group of liberal researchers are trapped between greedy capitalists nominally in charge and aggressive militarists, all too likely to take charge when the capitalists greed leads to its inevitable consequences. And of course the ‘good’ guys – the natives and their human liberal ‘citizens of the galaxy’ friends (a.k.a ‘white saviours’) have to win – which is very hard to credit, albeit maybe not so much more spectacularly unlikely than many an amazing victory of good over evil in the last reel. And of course the main ‘white saviour’ is the well-worn trope of the hero stolen by the left from the right – the tough right-wing soldier who converts to the side of right (or rather, of left). As Orwell says, the pacifist who finds his kids playing with tin soldiers is upset but tin pacifists somehow won’t do – so the left steal soldiers to play with.

    But with all that, it is competently filmed and can be watched. And some of the woke inspiration can be true on Pandora even if it never was on earth.

  • Fraser Orr

    Niall Kilmartin
    But with all that, it is competently filmed and can be watched. And some of the woke inspiration can be true on Pandora even if it never was on earth.

    Plus the ride at DisneyWorld is awe inspiring.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “a high-minded but alas subordinate group of liberal researchers are trapped between greedy capitalists nominally in charge and aggressive militarists”

    I’m often intrigued by the way people on the right buy in to the idea that they’re somehow on the side of the greedy exploiters and aggressive militarists. OK, fair enough that the left would think so, but why do the right agree with them? Why do we not see them as our enemies, too?

    We don’t agree with putting greed ahead of morality. We don’t agree with slavery and theft. We don’t agree with initiating force, or wholesale killing without need. We’re against that. We oppose that. We want it stopped. And another part of the message these stories sends is that while the high-minded ‘liberals’ decry the abuses, they turn out to be totally useless at fixing them. You need to *fight* for your freedom – what you need is a soldier who does not simply follow orders, but fights for morality and justice and loyalty to their friends. Why on Earth would *we* assume that position represents “the left” and the villains they’re fighting “the right”?

    It’s not about left versus right. It’s about good guys versus bad guys. And the good guy who beats the bad guys is someone the right ought to be able to identify with.

    It’s curious.

  • Pete the Other

    “people on the right buy in to the idea that they’re somehow on the side of the greedy exploiters”

    Say rather, “on the side of people the left paints as greedy exploiters” – which in the end turns out to mean anyone making an honest, productive living instead of swilling at the Government trough.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Say rather, “on the side of people the left paints as greedy exploiters” – which in the end turns out to mean anyone making an honest, productive living instead of swilling at the Government trough.”

    No, that’s what the left say. The right say there is a difference between the greedy exploiters and the people making an honest, productive living – they’re not the same people. Don’t they?

  • bobby b

    You expect too much.

    Every once in a while, some movie or series just . . . works. The right crowd of actors teams up with the right director and the right scriptwriters and and the right storyline, and the results are uniquely wonderful. During that same time, thousands of other movies and series fail to excite. The odds of this success are stacked against every attempt.

    So then someone decides to buy the goodwill and brand recognition of that hit, and they try to make Part II, or Part XXII. And they have a different group of actors and writers and directors and techies and a storyline that maybe has some tenuous connection to the storyline from Part I, but maybe not even that.

    It becomes a completely new attempted offering, sharing only those brand characteristics that they were able to purchase from the makers of Part I. It differs from the vast wastelands of the Netflix commodity library not at all – except it has this hook that causes more of us to give it a chance.

    Why wouldn’t such new offerings mostly sink into oblivion just as do the vast majority of other new offerings? Because they’ve stamped it with the old brand, which fools us into thinking there’s some connection to Part I beyond the name. And there is no connection.

    I loved seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek. After that, meh. I loved Star Wars I, and one or two more. After that, meh. They were completely new offerings, with none of the magic that infused the originals. I don’t know why we expect more.

  • Flubber

    Re: Perry What kind of people write this shit?

    4 Jewish Hollywood writers with Bernie Sanders-esque Twitter feeds. Gen Y wannabe Bolsheviks.

    Why did they get the job? Well dispensing with the obvious, because of group think. CBS is in the process of smashing every ounce of affection out of these properties, not to mention great chunks of IP value because they simply cant think any differently, and certainly cant hire writers with any talent – and they cant form any empathy for the fans. As people have noticed, the critics out there have a much better feeling for the canon than the studios do.

    The critical drinker is good fun, but the ultimate Picard takedown was from the guys at Red Letter Media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv-wmixiiMA

    Same thing with Star Wars – $4.2BN paid for Lucasfilms, so poor unimaginative writers and directors can create bad but politically acceptable content. Kathleen Kennedy is a nightmare moron.

    As it happens I didn’t mind the Last Jedi as a movie, but I’m not a fanboy. If I put my fanboy hat on, I can appreciate how TLJ shits all over the canon. RoS was an incoherent sack of balls though.

    To a certain extent the movie/TV industry reminds me of the music business. The corporate label produce content which is 99% utter shit, but there is some good independent stuff out there. I am for example a great fan of Above & Beyond, and the Anjunabeats record label they’ve built.

    One hopes the evolution of the internet allows similar activities to sprout in the “movie/TV” space…

  • Chester Draws

    Much of Avatar’s plot was a straightforward transplant of PC myth history

    Indeed, and I could not watch it as a result. I consider it a good sign that someone does not think deeply about art than that they really like that film — it means that they can watch it and either not spot its wokeness, or they agree with it.

    Whereas I can watch even the recent Star Wars films because they are just silly. Good against Evil, with no impinging of stupid lefty economics or politics. They can’t really be deconstructed because they are just giant romps in space.

  • Flubber

    Sargon had a funny takedown of TLJ:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPsRp7uUXUk

  • Fred Z

    90% of everything is crap and Star Trek has always been in the majority.

    Infantile plots, science and technology of the absurd, ham acting, “special” effects suited for a “special” class of retards, bullshit piled on bullshit until it collapsed in a scintillating coruscating spray of phosphorescent manure.

    Plus a bunch of ugly women.

  • Stonyground

    Imagined technology from long past SF productions vs. Real 21st century technology can be an amusing diversion. It is probably worth a seperate discussion on its own. Some have been amazingly prescient but most miss by miles. Of course, making predictions is very difficult, especially about the future.

  • FrankH

    Star Trek was woke when “woke” was the past tense of “wake”: the first inter racial kiss on TV is just one example. The difference is that back in the 70s they were leaders, now they’re just followers.

  • NickM

    Some interesting points…

    Perhaps too much for me to coheerently comment on in one go…

    The Star Wars prequels are shite on so many levels: no “Evil Empire” but instead a “Trade Federation”, Jar-Jar Binks, the one cool baddy (Darth Maul) biting the dust early, Anakin and the simple fact that everyone who was a Star Wars fan wanted the prequels to be about the Clone Wars which only start at the very, very end of the second one. The dialogue is shocking, “Even the younglings!!!”. In fact they are overall so bad they made me question the first movies from my childhood. And not just the Ewoks. So I agree with the comment above about taking a successful series/format and building on it guarantees a good, successful go again.

    Sometimes it works. I rather liked ST:TNG and ST:Voy. And I liked (mostly) Dr Who when rebooted although I never took to Capaldi (or Clara – WTF was going on with her?) and the Jodie Whittaker ones are awful. What little I’ve seen of them watch almost like a deliberate parody of PC Wokeness.

    Fred Z,
    I agree with your 90% remark (It applies to e.g. Bond very much*) but “Ugly women”?!? So, not up for an hour on the holodeck with Deanna or Seven? More time for the rest of us then.

    *Bond movies are very SF.

  • Penseivat

    We’ll know the wokeness is really taking charge when a female version of “Blues Brothers” is made, though what the title will be is anyone’s guess.
    A once famous pop star realises her fashion industry is going nowhere and her once rich, pussy whipped, husband has run out of money, so she ‘gets the band back together’. Four, tone deaf, ex members of a girl band try to restart their careers while evading greedy, male, creditors; vicious, greedy, white, cocaine dealers; and lesbian ex lovers. Of course, the premise is totally fiction.
    Can’t wait.

  • 1) Chester Draws (May 17, 2020 at 12:06 am), I spotted Avatar’s wokeness and mocked it, yet could mildly enjoy both the film and that mockery. Avatar’s wokeness was crude but it was not the only thing the film had and even the wokeness had occasional subtlety – unlike the extra-wokeness-episodes-in-series I talked of.

    For example, the colonel is ultimately a contradictory character – ruined by wokeness. He could be the real soldier of “you gotta be kidding me” and of the later film, who is hoping for a real battle to fight and enjoys it, or he could be the fake soldier who says “good work, people – drinks are on me” after his high-tech team use gas and missiles to crush some savages with bows and arrows, but he cannot be both. However the film does try to make him a real adversary, not lost for replies when the intellectuals shout at him, not completely hopeless at arguing against their turning of the hero from jarhead to rebel, and not cowardly.

    The colonel’s arguing ability reflects another PC myth: the right are stupid but some of its leaders are ‘strange’, ‘creepy’ – i.e. intelligent yet on the right, which is a moral outrage to the PC. Practical experience of not winning all their arguments easily – when compelled to argue without a fixed audience or tribunal – makes this idea a reality to US liberals. Avatar – unlike the Oh-so-woke serial episodes – risked giving the colonel that little bit of physical and verbal strength for the sake of the drama.

    You are right that some people notice what others miss. Long ago, I worked with a bright guy in computer visuals who took his girl friend to see Jurassic Park (first time seeing for both of them). “Did you see that!!”, he suddenly shouted as the velociraptor crashed into what the audience only then realise is the reflection of Lex desperately trying to pull down the jammed steel roll-door before the raptor reaches her. “The raptor’s reflection deformed in sync with the impact!!!” He would have gone on to explain how impressive a technical feat this was, but his girlfriend had something very emphatic to say about how she had been taking a quite different experience from the film – one which his abrupt interruption of CGI data had not enhanced. 🙂

    That some could see Avatar and miss its wokeness may not mean they don’t know art. Like my friend’s girlfriend, they don’t know (or are uninterested in) something, but exactly what that something is could bear debate. When I watched Avatar, I enjoyed the drama and checked off the woke tells and derived a certain amusement from both. Chaqu’un a son gout.

    2) Nullius in Verba (May 16, 2020 at 8:31 pm), I was at that moment summarising the belief of Avatar’s scriptwriters – something I expected to convey sufficiently by calling it “PC myth”. So the answer to your surprising question “why do the right agree with them?” is that they don’t / we don’t / I, at the very least, don’t. We merely seek to describe them. I see the base in Avatar as a self-indulgent representation of how US liberals like to see themselves within US society.

  • Ferox

    Jar-Jar Binks

    NickM, one of the advantages of having your movies ripped to digital format (besides easy access and portability) is that you can chop them up for your amusement.

    One dull empty weekend long ago, I made a “No Binks” cut of The Phantom Menace. To my astonishment, with the exception of a single scene, none of Binks dialogue is expository or even relevant to the story at all. I snipped him completely out of nearly every scene, changing nothing else at all, and made a revised film that was at least 50% better than the original.

    I would post it someplace for others to enjoy, but you know only George Lucas is allowed to chop up and mutilate those old Star Wars movies into “better” versions …

  • Nullius in Verba

    “So the answer to your surprising question “why do the right agree with them?” is that they don’t / we don’t / I, at the very least, don’t. We merely seek to describe them.”

    Good! But I’m getting the impression people are criticising the films, for portraying the baddies as right wing, rather than the left-wingers, for interpreting the baddies as right wing.

    The ideal for a film-maker interested in maximising revenue is to make the film ambiguous, like one of those optical illusions where if you look at it one way it’s a duck and another way it’s a rabbit. You want to make the film so both left and right can identify with the heroes and boo the villains. And I think very often you can. Take a film like Jason Bourne. On the one hand the government agents are a parody of the left’s view of right-wing militaristic hawks. On the other hand, they can also be seen as Deep State operatives, an elite running out of the people’s control, and it’s a film more about privacy and liberty in the surveillance state. Or V for Vendetta, one of my favourites. The dictatorial government in it is explicitly described in the film as ‘right-wing’, but we can all recognise the society depicted as an image of socialist dictatorships through history, and we identify strongly with the message of freedom. Both sides can identify with the hero, neither side thinks of the villains as entirely like themselves.

    Except that the right often do. They too can only see the duck facing to the left, not the rabbit facing the right. They’re more bothered about how the left will interpret the film, than they are with how they themselves could or should interpret it.

    Do you think of V for Vendetta as a ‘woke’ film, because of its pro-gay, pro-Islam elements? Or right-wing because of its respect for old art and culture, for its opposition to state media and state control, because of its message of freedom? Can you understand that it can be both at the same time – with enough ambiguity for both sides to cast themselves as the hero?

    There are of course some films that are more slanted to one side or the other, thus halving their audiences. That’s allowed as free speech. But the ideal film that tries to be neutral is inevitably going to put in a bunch of elements to appeal to the left, because half the paying audience is on the left. Does it advance the cause of free speech to complain about it?

  • Anita Fischer

    I had to resist urge to immediately reply, as I also enjoyed Orphan Black, yet agree ST/SW had a political grinder applied until nothing recognizable remained (warning signs were there in ST:TNG but it didn’t go into overdrive until ST:Enterprise). To be honest the SW sequels were never that good but the woke idiocy that blew that franchise apart didn’t really become toxic until Rey’s strange but pretty face appeared.

    To try and figure out why I agreed about Orphan Black, I went back & rewatched several episodes. Yes, you’re right, the “woke-as-fuck” is there, even a box-ticking transgender clone FFS. But none of that is central to the plot, leftist sensibilities aren’t what drives the story or defines all the character interactions. That really matters.

    All men aren’t stupid, all women aren’t smart (even the clones all played by Tatiana are very varied, with some being terrifyingly sharp, others plausibly clueless). In reality, probably the most memorable, tragic and vivid character (Rachel Duncan, the main ‘evil’ antagonist for much of the show) is not in the slightest bit “woke”. Like you say, this show was Tatiana Maslany’s tour de force, at times I genuinely had to keep reminding myself these characters were being acted by the same person!

    That is why Orphan Black works while ST/SW really are ridiculous ‘zombies’ now. The characters in SW/ST are political caricatures, like Trotskyist shadows delivering a party-line, not recognizable people.

    The characters in Orphan Black actually interact like people. Ok, like people whose world has been just been turned inside out, but still like actual people (and any wokeness is just incidental, not central).

  • NickM

    Ferox,
    I am not that surprised by the success of your Binks experiment. Bink was stuck in to have a “jive” character and to sell toys to kids. So, is it surprising that because he feels like a parachuted in character (amongst other things) when you see the original the movie flows without him. Also, of course, with the CGI tech of the time he can’t interact with the live-action characters the same way as, say, Gollum could in LoTR or Hobbit?

  • Paul Marks

    Correct Perry.

    The problem with Star Trek. Star Wars, Dr Who, modern James Bond films (and so on) is not just that they are “Woke” – they are also just NO GOOD.

    Lazy writing, the failure to create a story that makes sense and tell the story well.

    If this trend continues writing will be reduced to television shows and films just having a “Diverse” cast – staring at the camera and chanting “Orange Man Bad!” all the time – because the writers can not think of anything else to say.

    What is wrong with the left? Why can they write things worth watching?

  • Paul Marks

    Note that “The Expanse” also has a “Diverse” cast, but it does-not-matter.

    It does not matter what skin colour someone has, or whether they are male or female – what matters is “are they interesting”, “is this story worth thinking about?”

    And those are tests that most modern television shows and films horribly fail.

  • Stephen Michael Kellat

    Picard was a horrible Star Trek-tinted rip-off of Orphan Black. Swap in Tatiana Maslany for Isa Briones and the story starts to look mighty familiar at points. Star Trek would do good to put Maslany or her real-life brother on a starship sound-stage in a guest spot just to change things up.

    She’s tied up with the Perry Mason revival and he’s got a recurring role on Murdoch Mysteries, alas…

  • Paul Marks

    I sometimes amuse myself by thinking up “Woke” stories that are also entertaining.

    But modern entertainment industry people mostly do not bother – they know that all they have to is produce the “correct” (i.e. Marxist) politics, and do not have to bother with interesting characters or a good story.

    If anyone mentions that they did not enjoy a television show or film – then the Frankfurt School writers and Big Business Corporations can just scream “RACIST! SEXIST! HOMOPHOBE! ISLAMOPHOBE! TRANSPHOBE!” and on and on – and demand that the person who said they did not enjoy the show or film (or comic, or video game or….) be PUNISHED (lose their job – and so on).

    This is much less difficult that creating interesting characters and writing a good story.

    I can see why Big Corporations, such as Disney, would go for this- “buy our product or be PUNISHED you bigot!” is much less difficult than producing goods and services that people would CHOOSE to buy.

  • The Pedant-General

    “So was it ‘Wokeness’ per se that actually zombified those two franchises? Or the fact people got hired to make these expensive clusterfucks on the basis they were Woke, rather than actually being any good at, well, making shows?”

    I would be tempted to say that this is a distinction without a difference. Even if it were the second of these two things, you can make a strong case that the second is caused by the first in any event…

  • Orphan Black is heavily detailed with woke twiddly bits yet managed to be well made & interesting, so no, I must disagree. I think it is a key distinction 😉

  • Nico

    Where is the money coming from for Hollywood’s money-losing and value-destroying propaganda films? How long can this state of affairs persist?

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