Chappelle, The Wokies and the First Perpetual Surveillance Generation: Why Zoomers Really Are The Worst
Every generation thinks the following generation is the worst ever. I think we have empirical evidence this time, though.
The "zoomers", aka "Generation Woke", are the absolute worst. The thing is, it's not their fault. Technology and social media scrambled their brains before they even had a chance.
I came to this realization because of Dave Chappelle.
Let me get your trigger waiver consent form so I can unpack it all and mansplain the praxis of it to you, sweetie.
Sticks and Stones
Dave Chappelle's latest comedy special, Sticks and Stones, was released in mid-August on Netflix. In a sane universe, this would have been another quality but basically unremarkable show for his mostly oldhead fanbase to enjoy quietly like his last few Netflix specials (did you know this is his fifth
since 2017?). It would have made no cultural ripples whatsoever.
In the universe we live in, Dave got fed up (as many of us have) at "politically correct" crusading, witch-hunty purity testing and the disproportionate backlashes / tantrums of Cancel Culture and decided to make that the central theme of his new special.
Guess who got upset by the special and immediately took to the internet in an utter state of O U T R A G E? Yep, Cancel Culture. The first into the fray were the grifter "cultural critic" "journalists" turning a buck off of it - your Vice, your Paste, the usual suspects
However, something funny happened after that initial sortie. As you can see from the link, there's a bit of an obvious disparity in responses here. And it's not just at Rotten Tomatoes. See also IMDB
, Reddit comments
, and YouTube comments and views
. Popular opinion is overwhelmingly on the side of Chappelle. You can't "brigade" all of that, in those numbers, in that short of a time. This is absolutely organic reaction cutting across pretty much all social demographics.
The wokie "thought leaders" didn't rally the mob they assumed they would; quite the opposite happened, driving mass interest in (and appreciation of) the show.
Do The Wokie-Pokie And You Turn Yourself Around
So I'm taking all this in the last few days, wondering idly to myself (as I do sometimes): "Why do these people go to these lengths to be offended, especially when it's on behalf of other people? Why are they in such a rush to do the Wokie-Pokie over a great but questionably relevant middle-aged comedian? Why is this the world they want to live in? It can't just be for the outrage clicks, right? There are so many more lucrative ways to do that. How have they managed to divorce themselves from reality so completely?
And then it finally clicked into place for me.
"You know, this is how people who think they're under constant surveillance would act
And that's it. I'm convinced that's it. Most of this "woke" movement is young; that's the root and the driving force of it. Kids who grew up not just with the internet, but with the internet constantly at hand in the form of a phone or tablet. The first that felt compelled to be on social media oversharing their lives, if for no other reason because all of their peers doing it would ostracize them if they didn't. The first to grow up with camera lenses peering at them from, and hidden always-on microphones embedded in, all sorts of household objects.
The first generation in history to go from initial childhood cognizance to their young adulthood in a social setting where constant surveillance and perpetual peer judgment has been normalized.
You can stretch the beginnings of surveillance society back to the early Millenials and even late Gen X, but that was all one-directional government and corporate spying on people. The key element is the rise of social media paired with being tethered to an internet-enabled device at all times. Even if you opt out, someone else is always around keeping the eternal eyes on you for public consumption and judgment. Pair that with constant immersion in a filter bubble, and this is what comes out the other end after a decade or so.
That all started around 2005-2006. So the kids who were just hitting the self-consciousness stage around that time are now in high school, college or just recently graduated from college.
In other words, the marketing demographic that media businesses are most interested in.
That doesn't mean the "cultural critics" are all of that age group. Far from it. Some of the anti-Chappelle troopers openly copped to being middle-aged. But they know where their bread is buttered. Ultimately, they're culture vultures whose job it is to identify the status quo in their target demo and regurgitate its ideas. They are the self-appointed priestly caste of secular capitalism. And they constantly need content to keep earning their checks, and here comes this high-profile comedy figure activating their trap card ...
Boy, did they miscalculate on this one, though. I think it comes down to them missing two key things.
One, though zoomers feel pressured to publicly observe this PC orthodoxy of RightThink at all times - due to the siege mentality created by seemingly omnipresent surveillance and judgment - deep down they really don't fucking like it. There are always the eager bootlickers who cope with whatever circumstances are thrust upon them through enthusiastic conformity, sure, but most of these kids are still normal people at their core. It's an oppressive state, and they're chafing under it even if they feel pressure to keep on doing the Wokie-Pokie. I'm guessing Sticks and Stones was a long-needed cathartic experience for many of them. The priests of Woke pointed at it and told them "This is the heretic, go forth and hate!" ... and instead they found they enjoyed the hell out of it.
Two, they tried to Cancel the uncancelable. Chappelle is a hard target for them for a number of reasons. He's black, for one. He's also beloved - not just for having arguably the funniest comedy program of all time, but for comedy done in service of much of what the PC Orthodoxy considers RightThink
But the main reason is that he's done nothing wrong but his job - all he did was make some insensitive jokes. Targets like Horny Weenerstein, who actually did horribly wrong and criminal things, are much easier; even targets that were the victim of privacy invasion crimes en route to their Canceling campaigns tend to have actually done something that was at least legitimately ethically questionable. The proportionality of the response might have been way out of whack, but at least the Cancel-ees had done enough for the Cancel-ers to have some manner of plausible justification for their efforts. But trying to Cancel a famous comic for making jokes in the manner in which he's always made jokes? Yeah, that appears to have been a bridge too far even for some of the Woke.
Trannyus Dei, Qui Tolis Peccata Mundi
Old-school religion tells you that God is always watching and judging, so you better toe the line and act right at all times. Secular Wokeism uses the internet for the same purpose.
The orthodoxy of Wokeism was hastily slapped together (as crowdsourced things done by the whims and feefs of thousands of young people will inevitably be) and included some really stupid rules, though. Going straight to excommunication / the social death penalty for even the slightest of slights against a "marginalized group", and then letting "marginalized groups" self-declare with absolute impunity so long as they are no more than one of the three of the White-Straight-Male unholy trinity, was absolutely the dumbest of the bunch.
Chappelle started to point this very thing out with his LGBT car analogy in the special, but he didn't develop it quite enough. The Western world writ large is about as cool with gay and lesbian folks as it's going to get and has been for some time now. Though Dave focused on trans people slowing the trip to equality down, I disagree there - I think most people are actually pretty cool with that too. There's work to do there, certainly, but gender dysphoria is widely accepted as a real thing. Given that, it's rational to allow people to deal with it by transitioning and to treat them with the same respect and equal protections under the law that everyone else enjoys.
I don't think it's the Ts that are slowing things down, really. I think it's all that Extra beyond them in the alphabet soup. The Ts are about where you reach the end of scientifically provable conditions. That's where you start getting into the "non-binary" crowd that insists you constantly check on what gender they're currently feeling at the moment, the 127 different genders crowd
who DEMAND that you address them with their made-up pronoun like they're the fucking aristocracy, the unfit parents who label their children as trans before the child could possibly have any idea about it and treat them like a toy dog, the various flavors of animal fetishist, and the heebojeebophilia Epstein people trying to argue that "ACTUALLY a 16 year old is not a child so this isn't pedophilia."
So it's all that "+" that's the real problem, a lot of which comes off as attention whoring, untreated mental illness and insistence on dragging the entire rest of the world into your fantasy role-play rather than some sort of just struggle for acceptance of a legitimate state of being.
And the Wokies backed themselves into the corner of not only defending and enabling this shit, but participating in (or at least not questioning) their stupid lynch mobs when someone dares to not cater to them. That, and dying on the hills
of the small percentage of legitimate degenerates among the otherwise inoffensive LGB people.
That's what people are sick to death of. That's why the mainstream responded well to Chappelle. Claiming this is about "LGBT hate" is a dodge. Yeah, there are edge case Nazis and such out there that will opportunistically latch onto this, but that's not where the bulk of this reaction came from.
It's about the Wokies, feeling like they're under the constant unblinking eye of the orthodoxy, attempting to turn all this shit into some kind of supreme unquestionable caste and to obliterate anyone who dares to question the Great Work.
It's about a surveillance generation that sees nothing wrong with creepily combing through someone's recorded history, including private items obtained via data breach crimes and never meant for public consumption, looking for any morsels of WrongThink to go into histrionics about and demand that they be Unpersoned for.
And it's about a lot of members of that generation maybe, finally, realizing something is seriously wrong with all this and truly waking up.
I know that criticizing journalism in its entirety is en vogue in right-wing circles. I'm not right-wing, and that's not what I'm doing here. I respect real journalists that do real work. I don't respect "journalists" who deal mostly in "narrative journalism" and "think pieces."
I'm a professional writer, and I know a hack when I see one. I know exactly who these people are. Most of them probably got a bullshit degree in some bullshit field that was meant to do nothing more than pipeline you into academia. They didn't become a teacher, though; they came out into private enterprise and struggled to find a job. This type of "journalism" is the closest thing to the type of bloviating, self-important "queer genderfluid readings" and "personal narrative essays" they did in school that they can get paid any amount of money for, so this is where these hustlers are.
Not to excuse the people who buy into this shit, though. I mean, look at some of the comments I happened across while taking in this whole cultural moment:
This dude literally losing sleep doing gymnastics to justify not liking something he probably didn't really care about or feel any offense at. "Performative wokeness" in a nutshell. There's no reason to waste your time like this unless you feel pressured to publicly signal your allegiance to the orthodoxy.
Also, my man, from someone who manages to make a living writing ... that book metaphor is about as tortured as it gets. You really should have just went to bed.
As the kids would say ... so much to unpack here.
First of all ... "jazz cigarettes", "flowers in your hair" and then the '80s. This kid managed to jam literally 70 years together and none of it happened in the decade he was referencing. Would it kill you to maybe get some baseline historical perspective of your own culture before you try to crack jokes like this? This is why Chappelle gets paid $20 mil per special and you have 0 karma on Reddit.
Also note the complete lack of hesitance by wokies in engaging in ageism in spite of their hyper-sensitivity, and apparently anyone over the age of 30 is a "boomer" now.
Oh, wonderful, let's be completely literal and pretend humor doesn't exist so we can agendapost.
No, you're right Super Wokie, Dave Chappelle the human being is indistinguishable from Dave Chappelle the comedy act. Everything he says on stage is a testimonial statement of something he believes or has actually done
, and he has no history at all of using shock statements exactly like this in his comedy career to indicate that might not be the case.
"Guys, this special is awful. Dave Chappelle cheated on his wife with a trans woman, then he kicked a woman's genitals. Misogynistic monster
When you're confronted with cognitive dissonance, you either do this sort of thing or you truly wake up. The heartening thing about all this is that more people seem to finally be choosing the latter option. It's not enough just yet, though.
Dear Zoomers, Please Figure This Shit Out, Fast
It isn't the fault of the zoomers that social media and perpetual surveillance culture has screwed them up so badly, but they also have agency in how they respond.
I think that this culture is also magnifying more timeless issues with young people - they tend to not have confidence in themselves, and to have irrational anxiety about what strangers are thinking about them. So they feel they have to mob up and signal their allegiance and conformity to the in-group. That, and the tendency of young people to believe they are the End Of History, the best and most perfect version of humanity ever created (an attitude propped up by marketing falling all over itself to part their naive asses from their disposable income).
This really can't wait for them to just get older, though. Not if they want to keep firing up the digital lynch mob at the slightest provocation. I hope the way this Chappelle controversy has played out is the first indication of a real paradigm change, because I do not
want to see what happens if a charismatic extremist leftist leader manages to harness this into a political movement equivalent to MAGA-ism or the Tea Party.