Connect with us

Tech

Woke review: Hulu’s political comedy about race is too focused on white comfort

mm

Published

on

Woke review: Hulu’s political comedy about race is too focused on white comfort

Hulu’s Woke is a decent show with a bad title. A fictionalized version of the life and career of cartoonist Keith Knight, the sitcom often feels like a grab bag of anecdotes Knight acquired while living in the Bay Area in the ’90s and ‘00s. The show tries to center on timely topics, and isn’t always successful. But over the course of its first season, it does make a few fresh observations.

New Girl’s Lamorne Morris stars as Keef Knight, a Black cartoonist on the verge of a massive payday, thanks to the syndication of his unremarkable, innocuous comic strip Toast & Butter. Content with selling out, Keef avoids imbuing his art with any political statements, out of fear of offending his predominately white audience. Keef’s major turning point comes in a visceral scene where the police tackle and handcuff him because he supposedly fits the description of a mugger. After this traumatic experience, Keef starts to hallucinate inanimate objects speaking to him. The objects goad him into finally expressing his repressed anger at San Francisco’s racism. Obviously, this causes him some problems.

What might rub a lot of people the wrong way is that Woke’s concept of the term “woke” doesn’t fit with the way the word is commonly used in 2020. “Woke” today (both sincerely and derisively) is often used to describe a subculture based in social-media savviness, leftist politics, and a keen awareness of political issues, especially around racial and social justice. Woke uses the word in line with its original connotation, with Keef’s friends using it to describe his newfound awareness and general discomfort with racial injustice, while he himself doesn’t identify as woke.

Photo: Michael Courtney / Hulu

That sums up the core tension of Woke, at least in the early going. Creators Keith Knight and Marshall Todd, along with showrunner Jay Dyer, want to poke fun at the idea of wokeness while having nuanced discussions about it. But the humor is uneven, and it isn’t always clear that the writers really know what social awareness of racism is about. The character Ayana (SNL’s Sasheer Zamata) is the show’s closest approximation to a mascot for woke culture: a queer Black feminist and editor of a Bay Area alt-weekly. (In the world of Woke, alt-weeklies still get printed.) Sometimes the show positions her as a progressive foil to Keef’s reluctance to engage with issues around racism, but more often, Woke turns Ayana’s radicalism into the butt of jokes. More balance between these two approaches could have led to some nuanced comedy, but as it is, the show feels muddled. Is Keef a late-blooming activist in the early stages of training, or an Only Sane Man surrounded by egomaniacs and ideologues? Woke wants to have it both ways.

Woke’s creators don’t consider many topics off-limits — in the first season alone, they satirize police brutality, white liberal racism, cancel culture, interracial relationships, Black artistic integrity, and mental health. But too much of the humor lacks an edge. Watch the show enough, and you can set your watch by the time it takes characters to follow up a joke with an explanation. It’s hard to ignore how self-conscious this show seems to be about the white gaze. (Which seems ironic, given how Keef’s character arc focuses on his need to cut ties with his white fanbase.) Workaholics’ Blake Anderson does some phenomenal improv as Keef’s roommate Gunther, and iZombie’s Rose McIver is charismatic as ever as Adrienne the love interest. But as written, these characters only seem to exist to reassure white people that it’s okay to laugh.

As they fulfill their roles as “good allies,” making deft, witty observations about race like the show’s Black main characters, their whiteness goes largely unexamined. In one telling scene, Keef is lamenting the loss of his contractual rights to his cartoons, and Gunther says “Gosh, Black people are the worst at holding onto their shit.” After getting quizzical looks from the two Black men he’s talking to, he nervously asks, “Am I allowed to say that?” Keef shrugs and answers, “Yeah, sure. Who cares?” and the comment is never referenced again.

It’s easy to tell when Woke’s situations are lifted from Knight’s actual life. In one episode, Keef goes around SF posting flyers for a fake service that would allow customers to rent Black people. It’s a subplot directly based off a stunt Knight pulled several years ago to call out the disposability of Black workers at Bay Area corporations. The show authentically preserves the variety of reactions the flyers received, which opens the episode up to some unexpected interactions. Another episode catalogues Keef’s attempts to garner clout among Oakland’s community of Black artists by engaging in performative Blackness, and again, the specificity of this experience allows the humor to ring true. Woke’s more biographical elements — which prioritize Keef and his psychology ahead of any trite social commentary — make for the show’s strongest moments. But these moments are like pepper in the soup of Woke’s many interests.

Lamorne Morris holds up a Sharpie in Woke

Photo: Joe Lederer / Hulu

For much of the season, Woke feels like a less ambitious version of Boots Riley’s incisive film Sorry to Bother You. It’s so concerned with making sure white viewers have an in to all its racial humor that it takes some time to differentiate itself among the current renaissance of Black-led television comedies. Shows like Atlanta, Insecure, Random Acts of Flyness, and The Carmichael Show have proven that shows centering on Black identity don’t need to be Racism 101 pamphlets in order to be funny, accessible, and important. And Woke seems to know this too, because there’s a pretty clear divide late in the season where the show eases up on all the on-the-nose clownery and becomes more personal.

The latter half of Woke shows Keef as a man in search of an identity, desperately pivoting to anything that will give him one: his cartoons, social-justice activism, a free-spirited girlfriend. In the final two episodes, Keith’s talking-object hallucinations — which figure surprisingly little during the early part of the show — make way for a sober reflection on mental health and PTSD. Woke has the capacity to tell honest stories about its subject matter, and its cast and sense of setting lend a unique texture. If future seasons are willing to be more personal, less concerned about the white gaze, and more willing to address Keef’s class and male privilege, Woke could make a name for itself next to the other shows mining similar territory.

All eight episodes of Woke’s first season are now streaming on Hulu.

mm

Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lori

    September 19, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    More interested in reviews by Black critics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

YouTube TV is losing Fox regional sports networks

mm

Published

on

YouTube TV is losing Fox regional sports networks

A number of Fox regional sports networks (RSNs) will no longer be available for YouTube TV subscribers beginning October 1st, the company announced.

The move comes after YouTube and Fox first spoke publicly about Fox channels leaving YouTube TV in February, but the two companies came to an agreement to carry the rest of the MLB, NBA, and NHL seasons through 2020. As the NBA and NHL’s seasons come to an end, and with the MLB set to end around the end of October, Fox and YouTube’s agreement is also being severed.

“To bring you 85+ channels, we periodically renegotiate contracts with content owners,” the official YouTube TV Twitter account tweeted. “Starting October 1, 2020, FOX RSNs will no longer be available on YouTube TV. Members that are impacted will no longer have access to Library recordings from the FOX RSNs.”

Approximately 19 channels will be impacted. According to Variety, they include Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sportstime Ohio, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Prime Ticket (L.A.), Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports Tennessee, and Fox Sports Wisconsin.

The goal is to get them back on YouTube TV, though. Barry Faber, Sinclair’s president of distribution and network relations, told Variety that Sinclair (which owns the RSNs) continue to have discussions with YouTube “in an effort to find a mutually acceptable path to returning the RSNs to YouTube TV.”

This form of public back-and-forth bickering is referred to as a carriage dispute. Most recently, NBCUniversal and Roku underwent their own version of this. NBCUniversal and parent company Comcast threatened to pull a number of NBC apps from Roku as the companies negotiated terms to get NBCUniversal’s streaming app, Peacock, on Roku. It took less than 24 hours after NBCUniversal’s move to reach a deal — and that’s the end goal.

“This was a difficult decision made after months of negotiations,” YouTube TV’s Twitter account added. “We hope we can bring FOX RSNs back in the future.”

Both Sinclair and YouTube likely want Fox’s regional sports networks on YouTube TV — it helps justify the $65 monthly fee for YouTube TV subscribers. It’s just a matter of trying to force the other’s hand.

So, carriage disputes. Cable subscribers may have experienced this, cable providers and networks enter blackout periods to try and speed along negotiations. But for cord cutters who may never had purchased cable: welcome!

mm

Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

Continue Reading

Tech

Pumpkin DIY recipe list for Animal Crossing: New Horizons

mm

Published

on

Pumpkin DIY recipe list for Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons now has pumpkin-themed Spooky DIY recipes to collect so you can celebrate the Halloween season.

Recipes for the Spooky set will only be available during October. While you can use the recipes during other months once you have them, you’ll only be able to find them during October.

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

During this period, you will be able to find seasonal recipes that use Pumpkins talking to your villagers who are crafting in their houses. Other players have reported that you can shoot the Spooky recipes down from balloons, but we haven’t confirmed this ourselves.

If you’re still missing recipes on Oct. 31, your villagers will give you them in exchange for Candy, which can be bought from Nook’s Cranny. The Spooky Rug, Flooring, and Wall belong in the set, but they have no recipe. You can only obtain them from giving your villagers Candy on Halloween. There are some recipes that you can only get on Halloween as well. If you don’t grab all of the recipes by the time October ends, you’ll be out of luck until next year (unless you time travel).

You can also customize a bulk of the Spooky items, though you’ll need different colored Pumpkins to do so, rather than using Customization Kits.

A customization screen in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, showing turning a Spooky Tower green from orange.

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

Throughout the month, you’ll also be able to buy a bulk of these items from Nook’s Cranny. You’ll only need the recipes if you want to be able to make these items year-round.

To get Pumpkins, you’ll have to grow them using seedlings you can buy from Nook’s Cranny.

Spooky Arch

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Arch

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

  • 10 Orange Pumpkins
  • 10 Hardwood
  • 3 Clay

Spooky Candy Set

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Candy Set

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

Spooky Chair

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Chair

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

  • 3 Orange Pumpkins
  • 3 Softwood

Spooky Fence

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Fence

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

  • 3 Orange Pumpkins
  • 5 Iron Nuggets

Spooky Lantern

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Lantern

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

Spooky Lantern Set

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Lantern Set

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

  • 4 Orange Pumpkins
  • 4 Weeds

Spooky Scarecrow

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Scarecrow

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

Spooky Standing Lamp

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Standing Lamp

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

  • 3 Orange Pumpkins
  • 5 Hardwood
  • 1 Clay

Spooky Table

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Table

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

  • 14 Orange Pumpkins
  • 10 Softwood

Spooky Tower

An Animal Crossing recipe for a Spooky Tower

Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Sports Grind Entertainment

Spooky Garland

This recipe is only obtainable by giving villagers Candy on Halloween.

  • 1 Orange Pumpkin
  • 1 Iron Nugget
  • 1 Clay

Spooky Table Setting

This recipe is only obtainable by giving villagers Candy on Halloween.

  • 1 Orange Pumpkin
  • 1 Iron Nugget
  • 1 Clay

Spooky Carriage

This recipe is only obtainable from Jack on Halloween.

  • 30 Orange Pumpkins
  • 20 Hardwood
  • 20 Wood
  • 20 Softwood
  • 10 Iron Nuggets

Spooky Wand

This recipe is only obtainable from Jack on Halloween.

  • 1 Spooky Lantern
  • 3 Star Fragments

There are many other seasonal recipes to unlock, depending on the season:

mm

Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

Continue Reading

Tech

Windows 10 for ARM will support 64-bit x64 apps through emulation

mm

Published

on

Windows 10 for ARM will support 64-bit x64 apps through emulation

There still aren’t too many Windows 10 PCs or laptops on the market with ARM-based processors, but folks who do have those machines will soon be able to run 64-bit x64 apps on them. Microsoft says it will at last roll out 64x emulation to Windows Insider testers in November.

Windows 10 has been able to emulate 32-bit x86 apps on ARM for a while, along with native 32-bit and 64-bit apps. Support for x64 emulation will allow those systems to run a far wider selection of software. As such, ARM-based Windows PCs and laptops will have far improved utility.

mm

Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

Continue Reading

Trending