The Wokeness Epidemic started with Glee, a teenage-oriented drama from the early 2010s

The Wokeness Epidemic started with Glee, a teenage-oriented drama from the early 2010s. By Bill Hurrell.

A long piece, but it explains a lot about woke culture — including America’s new disinformation czar, Nina Jankowicz. She’s the right age to have been a combatant in the Glee wars.

Where did cancel culture and wokeness come from?  … While others have pointed to the rise of postmodern critical theory in universities in the 80’s, or to the political correctness wave of the 90’s, I believe these explanations only tell part of the story and leave a very important question unanswered: why now? Why this generation?

It is not possible to answer this question without talking about the influence of social media, and specifically the social media used to propagate millennial fan culture, where social justice warriorism and cancel culture truly had their testing grounds. …

Wokeness is anything but a serious commitment to equality and justice, but has rather always been nothing but a way for resentful and self-harming teenagers to pick on each other using the language of critical theory …

The woke phenomenon’s origins are as shallow, childish, and risible as it is possible to get. It is difficult to imagine a movement with more absurdly provincial origins rising to ruin so many lives. And, once those origins are exposed, I believe it will be that much harder to take wokeness of any kind seriously.

 

 

Glee is a teenage-oriented drama centered around the members of the fictional McKinley High School’s eponymous Glee club, the “New Directions”. … The show’s primary … protagonist is the club’s faculty adviser Will Schuester …, who teaches Spanish at McKinley High and becomes the faculty adviser for the Glee Club after its previous director is fired for inappropriately touching a male student. … The Glee club, which Shuester once led to victory at regional competitions as a member, is now in disarray and an underfunded haven for social pariahs, the majority of the school’s extracurricular budget going to the cheerleading squad …

The members of “New Directions” are a Diversity and Equity Inclusion Committee’s dream. … When Schuester first opens the club’s doors, he only attracts the students who comprise the absolute bottom of the school’s social hierarchy. … However, this outcast status soon becomes a transparently ridiculous pose, as the club grows to include members of the football team and the cheerleading squad …

The absolute most consistent message that Glee drills into its viewers is that its protagonists are supposed to be at the bottom of the high school food chain. They are outcasts, dorks, losers. In fact, one of the show’s few original songs literally brands them “losers” as a point of pride: the triumphal anthem “Loser Like Me” .

 

 

This might be the least plausible part of the show. By the time the first “New Directions” class graduates, they are not only a decorated Glee club, but most of their members are either members of the cheerleading squad, or of the football team, or have had romantic relationships with members of said squad/team. In any real American high school, this would mark the New Directions as anything but social pariahs, and yet we are expected to believe they are marginalized because they…like to sing?

The “oppression” of the Glee club is purely a theoretical function of their identity markers, while the actual on-the-ground social reality they live in marks them as undoubted high school aristocracy. I think it’s safe to say that any conservative should recognize just who an aristocracy that speciously claims to be oppressed and is led by a character accused of being a “borderline pederast” resembles. Glee’s protagonists unwittingly stand for nothing less than the unjustified persecution complex of elite liberal America. …

It seems that Jacob’s real sin in the show’s eyes is not being particularly good looking. In other words, the instant someone who is not conventionally beautiful aspires to be loved by one of the beautiful people, all of Glee’s vaunted concern for those victimized by arbitrary social constructs goes right out the window. It is hard to miss the similarity to how wokeness, despite its claims to want to eliminate bigotry, is perfectly happy to countenance antisemitism and misandry. Certainly, it is troubling that the show treats it as perfectly normal that a woman should aspire to the affections of a social “better,” but treats a man in a comparable position as a contemptible joke. Jacob is the only character in the show who is believable as a bullying victim, but the show has no sympathy for him, because he is ugly and “uncool,” unlike the Glee Club. This, too, is an obvious way in which the show enforced the “morality” of proto-wokeness: one that only cares about “oppression” when it happens to the supposedly beautiful, cool people who it is socially acceptable to pity. …

The show wants its viewers to believe that conservatives, like Sue, are cartoon villains bereft of any inner emotional life short of Darwinian, winner-take-all malice. The irony, however, is that in portraying Sue this way, the show ended up putting a lot of uncomfortable truths in her dialogue … As fictional portrayals of conservatives go, we could do a lot worse than Sue, and indeed, the fact that she comes off as so likable despite being written as an ogre is also revelatory when it comes to the weakness of wokeness: that while it views its enemies as cartoon villains and treats them with that sort of shrill disdain, it has real trouble not making them sound cool and correct by accident when it does this. …

Intersectionality, wokeness, identity politics, girls using critical theory to gain power, “problematic” — it was all there:

The point of this lengthy description of the show is to illustrate something very important: that Glee was propagandizing wokeness before anyone knew what wokeness was. I don’t think this was conscious. …

The intersectional nature of the cast was almost certainly nothing more than a cynical play to make sure every potential consumer who watched the show would have their own Glee character to relate to.

In other words, it was not deliberate political scheming that made Glee into what its best character calls “a symphony of self-congratulatory sodomy.” It was focus-grouped cynicism that made the first woke show exist. …

Unfortunately, its attempt to give everyone watching someone to relate to made Glee the unintended plague ship carrying the ideology that is now seeking to remake all of American society in the image of high school so as to forever live out its fans’ adolescent fantasies of belonging. And that is why wokeness was created. For the sake of fictional characters who became totems to an entire generation’s self-regard. …

Confessions of a Glee fan (now a Hollywood consultant):

Now, you too can understand the full magnitude of just what twelveclara confessed to in late September of 2017 on Tumblr. It is the skeleton key to the conquest of the millennial generation, and much of Gen Z, by wokeness — the smoking gun of where wokeness started.

[The Glee fandom is] not history, its blood. i still see it all over this website. the vague posts. the deactivated urls. where do u think the word problematic became popular. where do u think the representational anger started. glee was the hungry gaping void that consumed us all. it said watch us and find yourself. there is someone for everyone. santana is a lesbian and kurt is gay and brittany is bisexual … and artie is disabled. mercedes is black and our outlet for body positivity. we are all oppressed by something and we are different and we are outcasts and we are you. …

and we fell for it. we watched glee and we related to its characters and we fought its wars until it was too late. until it was nothing but a distorted picture of a parody of reality, a cracked mirror in which our souls were sucked and encased in glass. …

character vs character, ship [relationship] vs ship, blogger against blogger. we fucking hated each other. there was no glee fandom. there were character fandoms and ship fandoms …

we won every popularity contest, every online poll. we voted our fingers to the bone. we created art and wrote fanfic and made such excellent photo manips they were published in newspapers. we were prolific. we were consumers of the hell we created and we just kept producing more in a fucked up dystopian fandom chain of supply and demand….

u asked for history. theres no history, only rage and pain and regret, the image of anonymous with a grey face and sunglasses telling u to kill urself because u thought artie was a dick for calling brittany stupid that one time. this website is a reflection of the hole glee left when it finished taking all it could from us, when the void could not consume anything more, and the posts on it now, the social justice “discourse” that is just giant piles of steaming, unsifted, unrefined shit is from those who refused to learn from us. …

Here we have the self-confessed beginnings of the very intellectual trends that would eventually intrude on all of modern media, provoke mass phenomena like #Gamergate, destroy franchises like Star Wars and Masters of the Universe, and prompt the entire collapse of the entertainment industry thanks to the obvious “get woke go broke” phenomenon. …

Having told us that the label “problematic” and “representational anger” over portrayal of minority groups among young people began with Glee, twelveclara then moves onto explaining … how Glee provoked all these things: namely, it didn’t just represent every individual group onscreen, it weaponized that representation. Twelveclara is saying that when she and other young viewers looked at the characters on Glee, they did not see fictional characters acting out a plot. They quite literally saw themselves. And therefore, they took every plot twist on the show personally, because from their perspective, what happened on the show also felt as if it was happening directly to them.

Besides the utter disconnect with reality this suggests, a more practical problem is obvious: when millions of viewers are seeing themselves onscreen … what might seem like a terrible betrayal in the writing to one viewer might seem perfectly consistent and even comforting to another. In the solipsistic confines of one’s own room, one can rage against the injustices of the show harmlessly, but when all the fans are online talking to each other through Tumblr? The result will obviously be naked tribal aggression, as one group of fans who feels betrayed will lash out and attack another group of fans who feels, for just the same reason, that they have been seen. And both groups will be doing this because they think they are defending the validity of their own identities, rather than the writing of fictional characters.

Bad enough that this happened with plot twists, but in a show with as much romance as Glee, where every potential viewer is liable to find a different member of the cast attractive, this tribalism will become even worse. Hence what are called “shipping” wars. In fan lingo, “to ship” means to pair one character with another romantically. Shipping wars have a long, proud history in fan culture, starting with Harry Potter, but if twelveclara is to be believed, they obviously were far worse in the case of Glee, because every viewer took the choices of their chosen onscreen avatar personally. So if that character ended up with someone they weren’t attracted to, or if other viewers wanted them to end up with someone they weren’t attracted to, that didn’t feel like a reasonable disagreement over media. It felt like a vicarious frustration of one’s own personal romantic ambitions. And so, once more, rage could be expected to result …

The “representation” on Glee was apparently so significant and so accurately done that it reawakened ancient tribal hatreds among the teenagers watching the show because they could no longer tell the difference between the show and themselves.

Given that Glee’s pilot episode debuted with 9.6 million viewers, and one post-Superbowl episode commanded an audience of almost 30 million people, as much as ten percent of the entire US population could’ve conceivably been wrapped up in this crucible of adolescent cruelty. … As they ended up as SJWs, the fact that tens of thousands of teens were subjected to vicious weekly psychological abuse on Tumblr goes unremarked by the press …

We would watch the episode. Something inevitably would piss off some subsection, or some character would fight with a different character, or maybe somebody would break up or whatever. Because of that, it would just be a bombardment of their fans on Tumblr yelling at each other, fighting or trying to claim that what happened was problematic or that it shouldn’t have been represented this way, just nonstop harassment from every side … It wasn’t just that there was one side to an issue, but all of a sudden there were 50 different sides to an issue, and every single side had 30,000 people behind it all screaming at you. …

Individual factions of the show’s fandom could number in the tens of thousands. Think what that says about how large the fandom as a whole was, and how thoroughly that could have affected America’s entire adolescent population. …

Constantly enraged by the fact that their wish fulfillment wasn’t being perfectly fulfilled onscreen, and even more infuriated that other people had the gall to be okay with story decisions that felt like personal attacks, the Glee fandom transformed into a bellum omnium contra omnes. To fight that war, more than mere personal desire and preference would be necessary to achieve victory. These things would have to be intellectualized, and so the Glee fandom cast about and found critical theory, and absorbed its narcissistic message that basically enabled you to cry “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” etc at anything because what they really were after was a way to demand that nothing ever happen on the show that didn’t make them feel personally fulfilled.

They threatened each other with death, this war was so fierce, and when it was over, while they slunk away bleeding and miserable and full of regret that they had ever let themselves be driven so mad by a freaking TV show, the damage was done. They had already absorbed the intellectual patterns of critical theory …

[I]t was almost like the word “problematic” became the bible of Glee. It was like this is your way to instantly prove somebody else wrong. Then people were instantly shut down, it was the be-all, end-all of an argument. I’m sure the most times anybody’s ever used that word in history were probably during the days of Glee. …

Conclusions:

In other words, a group of people who numbered, at minimum, in the tens of thousands, and could’ve numbered in the tens of millions, became so obsessed with a TV show, and with characters they related to, that they went and indoctrinated themselves with critical theory just so they could more effectively complain whenever the show did something they didn’t like, and harass anyone who disagreed without consequence.

And when this toxicity ruined the show for them, they then spread this behavior to the fandoms of every other art form, and even carried it with them into adult life as participants in America’s cultural institutions. …

These girls (and it almost certainly was mostly girls) were so incapable of telling the difference between fiction and reality, so desperate to pretend that it was them reflected onscreen in a glorified teenage music revue, that they went to the trouble of intellectualizing their discontent through critical theory, and then took the same mission that animated the wars over Glee on Tumblr into the real world, and into real professions, in real industries, with real consequences. …

They are now insisting that all of us play the parts they have written for us in a political fanfic while they transform all of the United States not into a utopia, but into an eternal fantasy high school, where our new woke overlords, like the New Directions, will be constantly validated by everyone around them while still being able to claim oppression.

This is the reality of wokeness: It is not a utopian philosophy. It isn’t even really a Leftist one, though it uses Leftist language to mask its true intentions. No, what it is, is a sad, pathetic teenage wish fulfillment fantasy: a reactionary ideology determined not to move forward, but to restore the power dynamics of high school, the only place where the woke have ever had any power, or where petty, cruel, emotional infants like them can ever have any power.

Imagine if these millions of teenage girls had gone to church at those impressionable ages, instead of watching and fighting with each other online over a show about high school social life. I’ll bet their parents didn’t even notice.