Saturday, August 21, 2021

"Woke Garbage"

 I watched a couple episodes of The Chair on Netflix last night after someone on FB called it "woke garbage."

It's not the best TV I've ever seen -- Sandra Oh has just been named the chair of the English department in a small eastern college somewhere, where enrollment is falling and most of the faculty are white guys well over the age of sixty. It's her job to thin out the faculty, and her dean suggests she start with the oldest (two white guys and a white woman, all apparently in their late 70s) and the highest paid. But these faculty were her mentors, and at least one is a close friend, and so she's reluctant.

There's also a young black professor, and a fifty-year-old white guy professor whose wife has just died and who, though a brilliant teacher and scholar, is in a tailspin over her loss. At the end of episode two (which is where I stopped) he runs into trouble online after he (ironically) gives a Nazi salute in class and someone takes a video of it which goes viral.

That's it, that's the entire show. I watched it, frowning, looking for the "wokeness" which made it "garbage." There are no LGBT people (highly unlikely, at a university in the East); there are office politics but no other politics; there is no mention of immigration or global warming, or the pandemic;there are no enforced seminars to make people recognize that black people are people too....

Oh, wait. There it is. The show simply assumes that black people and Asian people and women are people. The show has an Asian person as its main character. Not only that, but she's a woman. And the show has two other women -- one of them black -- as professors in a university. There's the "woke garbage" my FB critic was complaining about.

It's honestly true. White conservatives think anything that's not about white men, entirely about white men, with women only as minor characters in the background, is liberal propaganda. That's the world they live in. Which explains a lot, when you think about it.

Anyway, so far as recommending it goes, it held my interest, and it's mostly realistic (unlike the usual fictional depictions of university life we get in movies and TV). The professors are clearly paid an unlikely amount (what English professor makes over $100,000 a year?) but this may be because they're at a famous (if fictional) private university? I probably won't keep watching, what with the semester starting up, but if you like campus fiction and Sandra Oh, this might be for you. 

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