The Death of Escapism - Warner Brothers Wants to Create More Woke TV Programming

(AP Photo/LG Electronics)

You will bow to social activism, one way or another.

We have almost become conditioned to it by now — or at the very least we have learned to recognize and avoid when a new activist product is coming our way in the entertainment realm. The ongoing insurgence of earnest messages, community awareness, and/or social lectures being injected into our cultural diversions is only going to get broader. 

A major studio has just announced it intends to do more than slip in the occasional storyline or populate the cast with a character from a proper interest group. Warners is teaming up with a Yale professor, Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, to create content from scratch based on social activism. They intend to create entire products rooted in and concerning social justice.

What this specifically entails is difficult to state, given that they are strictly in the creative phase right now, but also because the descriptions of their intentions are full of vague word-salad proclamations. Goff is the CEO of the Center for Policing Equity, as well as having a creative team entitled JusticeRx. They will be creating entertainment that will ‘’help people get free’’. Who they are referring to who is not free is not explained.

According to Goff, these new projects will serve as important touchstones for social improvement.

“This year, the world was reminded of the power stories have to define our lives. That creates an unprecedented opportunity to direct that power towards uplifting vulnerable communities. Our goal will be to help storytellers un-tell the lies we tell about ourselves.’’

We are told that Goff’s organization ‘’is a research and action organization that aims to identify and reduce the causes of racial disparities in public safety. And, of course, there is plenty of talk surrounding the new ubiquitous but still opaque word ‘’equity’’. 

The main issue with all of this is that it is generating content with the purpose of delivering messages to the audience. This is something that has not only proven to repel viewers, but it manages to deliver a fractured product because you do not begin with creativity. These offerings always seem to begin first with social checkmarks, then they endeavor to get into creating a product. Look at the recent series ‘’Batwoman,’’ on The CW Network. The entire reason for that show, based on the advanced word and the promotions, was that it centered on an LGBTQ character — whether or not it was a show worth watching was secondary. (For the record, it was only worth watching from the mockability perspective.)

This has been a growing problem audiences have been encountering for years now. It is growing increasingly difficult to slip away from the social upheavals we experience and lose ourselves in some entertainment as a distraction. We have, for generations, relied on entertainment as a form of escape;  we have always looked for diversions to decompress, take our minds off of some of the anxieties we deal with daily. That is getting harder to do. Movies are lecturing us with activist plotlines, and we are forced to accept and endure stern messaging from TV shows. Even sports have become afflicted with these scolding deliveries, with everything from the opening ceremony being politicized to the uniforms and the playing surfaces being emblazoned with tagline social rebukes.

Now we have a studio promising to not only continue with this practice but actually promising to expand upon it. This is a severe miscalculation, as you see the purveyors of cultural content bucking the long-established principle with entertainment — instead of giving the people what they want Warners is offering up what it feels the people need.

It is safe to say, the last thing most viewers want is yet another lecture on how wrong they, and their society, actually are these days. It is the very thing most wish to flee and rely upon escapism to do so.