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As 2022 comes to a close the most recent Gallup polling shows 76 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Taken another way, if Joe Biden was your UBER driver you might want a ride from Paul Pelosi instead. But I’m not here to bash Democrats or their driving records. Nor will I give them the business for the record levels of inflation crushing small businesses. Yes, a lot of us got poorer this year, but the silver lining for all Americans is the woke outrage mob truly went broke.
As always, there were plenty of big angry protests but unlike years past where social pressure campaigns ended TV shows like “Live PD” and eliminated the Aunt Jemima logo (and the royalties going to the model’s family) history will show that this year’s biggest backlashes fell flat.
For my money that’s a cause everyone should celebrate because you’re never gonna find yourself at a party hoping for the guy who gets offended by everything to show up. And you’re out of luck if you are because he doesn’t get invited to parties.
Here’s what I consider to be the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals of Woke Outrage Failures in 2022. In the spirit of the times we’re living in, I kept the medal round open to all biological genders, like a women’s swimming event.
Netflix employees call for the company to cancel Dave Chappelle and get more Chappelle specials instead. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was hit with a fierce internal backlash after Chappelle’s special “The Closer” made jokes about his relationship with the trans community. The woke uprising made for a year of walkouts and work stoppages that ended with the CEO telling the New York Times in November “that special was one of the most entertaining specials we’ve ever had. We would do it again and again.” Hastings went on to praise Chappelle for being entertaining and provocative which is good news for Dave and better news for anyone running a rage room near Netflix’s Company Headquarters in Los Gatos, CA.
To his credit, Hastings realized what a lot of club comedians like myself and certainly bigger names like Chappelle have known all along. Comedy cancellations have always been a tyranny of the minority. 99% of people who consume standup do so because they’re looking for an escape from the torments of everyday life. They don’t pay a cover charge and a two drink minimum to ruin the guy providing that outlet.
And unlike most people protesting Chappelle’s jokes, Hastings actually watched the special. I say this because “The Closer” concludes with Chappelle announcing his creation of a scholarship fund for the children of a trans comedian who enlightened him on the challenges of trans life. It’s hardly the work of a man who wants to harm the community. Yes, he makes jokes about trans people but what the outrage crowd needs to realize is that when comedians make fun of someone we’re treating them as an equal, as opposed to putting them off in a corner like some type of infantilized, lesser than.
There is no higher form of inclusion than being the butt of the joke like everyone else which is why no race or ideology should be forced to sit at the Comedy Kiddie Table. There’s no equality in it and frankly, learning to laugh at yourself is one of the most empowering traits you can develop.
Having said all that, if you don’t like Chappelle’s jokes you always have the option of not watching them. After all, Netflix is ON DEMAND. Which means you only watched this horrific humor after you DEMANDED IT from the comfort of your couch like a French king.
Defund the Joke police. We’ll all be better for it in the long run. Bravo, Reed Hastings.
Billy Eichner’s Gay Rom Com, Bros, tanks at the Box Office. Eichner kicked off his publicity tour at the MTV Video Music Awards in late August by encouraging viewers to see his movie as a way of “sending a message to Clarence Thomas and the homophobes on the Supreme Court.” It was a disingenuous attempt to tie gay rights to the mood surrounding the repeal of Roe Vs Wade and it coincided with Eichner’s false claim that “Bros” was the first gay rom com produced by a major studio.
If you’re keeping score at home, 20th Century Fox released “Love Simon” in 2018 and this past June Disney’s Searchlight Pictures released “Fire Island” on Hulu. But there was Eichner slandering SCOTUS Justices who signaled no intention to repeal gay marriage and insisting “they weren’t going to drag the gay community back to the last century.” Apparently they weren’t dragging them to the theater either because this film bombed so bad the TSA will stop you for carrying the DVD onto the plane.
Eichner attributed the film’s failure to the result of more homophobia but here’s the thing: American audiences aren’t homophobic and if they were, “Brokeback Mountain” wouldn’t have won multiple Oscars and become one of the most profitable films in history all the way back in 2004. Eichner tried selling fake oppression because the entire woke ethos is about highlighting an injustice even if it comes at the expense of truth and reason.
In another time people might have bought it. In this era the fake outrage dog no longer has real bite and Eichner was forced to learn a hard lesson: Americans have nothing against gay movies. But they’ve got plenty against bad ones.
Disney replaces CEO Bob Chapek after the company clashed with Florida Governor Ron Desantis over the Parental Rights In Education Act. In March of 2022 DeSantis passed a bill making it illegal for Florida Schools to teach sexual education of any kind to children between the ages of kindergarten and third grade. It seems reasonable enough to anyone who’s not banned from coming within 500 feet of a school.
Even The New York Times admitted in a March Editorial that the bill does not ban or specifically mention the word “gay” at any point, summing up the language as “vague and open to interpretation.” The woke grievance machine immediately began “interpreting it” as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because never let the facts get in the way of a good protest. Parents seemingly sided with DeSantis, as a Public Opinion Strategies poll found that 61% of Americans supported the bill when presented with the actual language in it, with 26 percent of Americans opposed. It’s also worth noting that 55 percent of Democrats approved as well.
What does this have to do with Disney you ask? The Company’s then-CEO Bob Chapek stepped into a bit of a Mouse Trap, if you will, after hundreds of employees latched on to the false depiction of the bill as a ban on gay rights and in Florida. Thousands walked off their jobs at Disney World and pressured Chapek to get more aggressive in his denouncements, which the CEO ultimately did while stepping up his attacks on DeSantis. The Florida Governor responded by signing legislation to revoke Disney’s Special tax privileges in the Sunshine State, much to the chagrin of the company’s shareholders.
Chapek was replaced by former CEO Bob Iger in November in what CNN described as “a shock to Hollywood.” There were other contributing factors to Chapek’s demise, such as the $1.5 billion dollar loss for the company’s streaming service in the Fourth Quarter. But in announcing his return to a position he once held with mythical status, Iger declared he had “a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.” Translation: we’ve made a gazillion bucks catering to parents of all political persuasions and that’s exactly what we’re doing from here on in.
Kudos to Iger for reading the writing on the walls of Cinderella’s Castle, but you don’t have to be a two time CEO to understand that people don’t come to the self-proclaimed “happiest place on earth” for a culture war. As much as it may appease some Disney employees, most parents don’t wait two hours to ride “Snow White And The Seven Genders.” Nor will they get a fast pass for “Peter Pansexual.” Nevermind that if they really wanted to work on being more inclusive, Disney should bring down the prices instead of the pronouns. The average ticket costs over $100 to get in, and the merchandise is through the roof. I’m still paying interest on a Buzz Lightyear I bought my son Lincoln in 2012. Seriously, Disney. If you really care about kids, maybe don’t drive their parents credit card debt to “Infinity And Beyond.”
Yes, it was a rough year to buy goods at the store and the border remained wide open. Travel wasn’t always easy with gas prices and stunning amounts of flight delays. And even if your flight did land your baggage may have taken off with a member of the Biden administration. But if this year taught us anything it’s that people turn to entertainment to be entertained. And as someone who is beyond grateful to make his living telling jokes on TV I couldn’t be happier that 2022 handed our industry the most vital survival tip for 2023: If it ain’t woke, don’t fix it.