Sleepwalking Through Wokeness: NY Times Writer Upset with “Spiderverse” by Rote, Not Reason

In the rush to react this expert forgot he needed something about which to actually be upset.

We have become flooded with so much activist outrage towards our cultural institutions and offerings that a growing contingent is growing weary. We are so inundated with wokeness many are now inured to the scorn. The New York Times has recently given us a piece that will extend our apathy.


The op-ed was written by Lawrence Ware, and he is addressing alleged problems he had with the recent motion picture release “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”. The reason for saying “alleged” is, while sternly stating there are problems and flaws with the film, Ware does little by way of explaining what these problems are.

Ware has sons who adore the film, and he feels the need to coach his progeny on the triggering aspects of the animated movie. But they seem to love it so much he has backed away from his lecture with them. So the problem? Well, I’m less inclined to think it rests in the movie than it does with the Ware himself.

It helps to explain who Lawrence Ware is professionally to realize the issue. He is a co-director of the Center for Africana Studies at Oklahoma State University. In addition he is the “diversity coordinator” for the university’s philosophy department. This gives you the sense that a high degree of overanalysis is rather likely with any cultural offering.

Framed against this resume his opening sentence comes as little surprise: “I liked “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” It is quite good, but I didn’t love it — and I feel bad about that.” So he rather enjoyed the film, but it was not perfect – hence, there’s a problem.


For those who have not seen “Spider-verse”, it is a new retelling of the Spider-Man mythos. Some of the appeal of the Peter Parker storyline is that an unremarkable high schooler can become a superhero. “Spider-verse” takes that concept to a new level.

A mixed-race teen named Miles Morales (his parents are Black, and Latino) becomes imbued with the familiar powers and is introduced to a multi-dimensional universe populated with numerous fellow Spideys. It is a fresh and creative reexamination of the Spider-Man canon, and it has been both a commercial and critical hit. Many – both fans and writers – are declaring it to be the best Spider-Man film.

But Lawrence Ware has issues.

He describes past films his family had been exposed to, such as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Pocahontas”, where he had discussions with his sons about the racial problematics in those offerings. “But I could not imagine having a similar conversation with them about ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.’ They loved it too much.”

This touches on the universe we now exist in with contemporary activism. Everything – EVERYTHING – has to be shot through any number of societal prisms. As soon as any of the reflective results display less than the fully approved spectrum, alarms must be sounded. So what is the offensive content to be pointed at and howled over with “Into The Spider-Verse”.


That…is a bit tough to nail down. The closest we get to a problem with the film from Ware is not about the specific type of content, but merely an issue of proportions.

Miles Morales, the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man, was the focus for the first half of the film, but, thereafter, he became a Spider-Man among Spider-Men. He was no longer the focus, and that puts me in a tough place as a father of young children.

So instead of applauding a central character of diversity he is mad there simply was not more??? Further undermining his own complaint, Ware states one of his sons was not even drawn in by Miles, but he was enamored with one of the villains of the film. So as he is raving about the contents of the cast he declares he preferred there were fewer of them and more of Miles.

Therefore (and I am entirely speculating here, absent concrete evidence) the issue seems to be that even with a diversity character, the issue is with a diverse cast…maybe? Except those characters from multiple sources (one of which is even a porcine entity) are the very story content most have raved about. But if it is not all-Miles, all the time, then there is an activist gripe.

This is not a case of me dumping unfairly on a social scold, either. Ware himself makes an admission that he is of the Hall Monitor class when he states, “We cannot expect kids to be as woke as we are.” Some self-awareness seems lacking. It never seems to dawn of this educator that maybe kids do not need to be “as woke”. Maybe they can actually enjoy a film without reflexively seeking out inequities and strife.


When one is predisposed to looking for social unfairness in all our entertainment even a film centered on a racially-approved character becomes a “problem”.


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