Early in 2024, Disney announced that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy would helm their next big Star Wars project. Shareen is a Pakistani director of documentaries on feminism. The topic was discussed on the Fox News panel show Outnumbered and had predictable talking points. Fox News host Emily Compagno proclaimed that Star Wars had succumbed to wokeness and that feminism has ruined it.

This was a fairly garden-variety conservative talking point, but something strange happened. Emily tried offering an alternative to Star Wars and said she was more of a Trekkie, declaring, “And that’s why I’m a Trekkie and not Star Wars!” She then gave a backward version of the Vulcan salute.

Aside from the weird way she delivered the familiar hand gesture, Emily’s implication that Star Trek was less woke is wrong. The evidence for this is, well, of all things, Fox News. For the past seven years, Fox News has had a deluge of segments about how Star Trek was now woke.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds’ debut episode referenced the turmoil of the 21st century and used footage from the January 6th insurrection as evidence. January 6th is a soar subject for conservatives because they know it makes them look bad if discussed in earnest, and Fox News became predictably mad over this.

For Star Trek Discovery, then Georgia Democratic representative Stacey Abrams would guest star in a role of authority, and Fox News reacted predictably to that as well. The complaints of wokeness are much higher, considering these shows are more directly calling out our current political climate.

So, with Fox News having proclaimed Star Trek being woke for years, why did Emily say she was more of a Trekkie?

The familiar answer is that she, like most conservatives, simply never understood Star Trek. Star Trek has always had progressive themes that more narrow-minded people have always pushed back on, even people within Star Trek itself.

Gene Roddenberry’s original series was known for pushing buttons with his diverse casting of women and people of color. The show was famously considered highly controversial for a scene where Kirk and Uhura share an interracial kiss, which had to be fought for during production. The episodes were also highly provocative allegories for current politics, with the episode Let That Be Your Final Battlefield being a blatant reference to the racism of that era.

In all likelihood, though, Emily is probably only saying she’s a Trekkie in 2024 on Fox News because she has not been keeping up with the franchise and probably only recalls the era of Rick Berman. Either that, or she forgot about all those “Star Trek going woke” stories that Fox News ran.

But there’s something very common about this laughable lack of media literacy. While the anti-woke crowd seems to have no problem pissing and moaning to everybody about what media is now woke, they seem to have a harder time finding media that does not fall into this box. After all, if you don’t like a particular brand of media, the best way to counter it is to point to better media that reflects your values and champion that instead. The problem is that the conservatives doing this often stumble just as hard as Emily did in this Fox News segment.

On Twitter, a thread was started with people complaining about woke media and asking if there were any non-woke TV shows. Those who bought into the narrative submitted their own contradictory answers.

One poster listed The Expanse as a non-woke sci-fi TV show.

The Expanse features a lesbian character in an interracial relationship, where the two of them have a child. It would be considered woke if the same lens was applied as it was for Star Wars.

Another example given was that Farscape was a non-woke sci-fi show. Farscape’s protagonists are misfit fugitives who are constantly having sex with each other and various aliens they meet, sometimes of the same gender and some of them without gender. Again, by the same metrics, this is woke.

This misreading of past media only makes the complaints about wokeness more bizarre, as though the complainers forgot what these franchises were all about. The anti-woke crowd complained about the revival of The Twilight Zone being too blunt and topical with its fables, even though that was the whole appeal of the original show. They complained about X-Men ‘97 being about identity politics, even though it is built into the core of X-Men being about civil rights.

The box that the anti-woke have built for themselves continues to get smaller as they slowly realize that most of the media they have consumed does not share their beliefs, values, and limited perspectives on the world. They realize this with the current crop of new media and retroactively with past media they had yet to read with this lens. There are literally conservatives reassessing A Christmas Carol as anti-capitalist propaganda.

With so little media reflecting these pro-conservative, anti-woke values, the question might arise why these folks don’t simply just make their own media. Well, they have. Right-wing online media networks like The Daily Wire and Prager U have their own movies and TV shows meant specifically to appeal to those who don’t want to watch perceived woke media. One problem with this idea: It’s not changing the culture the way the right-wing hoped it would.

The Daily Wire invested plenty of money into making their movies and TV shows. The original goal stated with these films was that they would not preach political messages like woke media does, hoping to attract a more neutral audience. They must’ve walked back on this because, in 2023, they made the comedy film Ladyballers, a film intended to mock transgender athletes with cameos by numerous right-wing figures on the Daily Wire platform and Ted Cruz. It’s a comedy that will only appeal to right-wingers so entrenched in Daily Wire propaganda, considering the film is loaded with Daily Wire in-jokes and product placement that only the devout will understand, let alone find funny.

The trailer for the film, released only a week before debuting, was advertised with the tagline of being the most triggering of comedies. Was it, though? Was it really? Because to rile up people to be offended by a film, you need to give them access to it. Ladyballers can only be watched on the Daily Wire streaming service. It’s unavailable to rent on other platforms, and no physical media release exists.

There are only two types of people who are going to watch this film. It’s either the right-wing dorks who will literally buy anything that Daily Wire is selling or left-wing influencers keeping tabs on these right-wing outlets. No fence-sitters, centrists, or so-called apolitical folks will watch this movie unless they are somehow coaxed into paying for Daily Wire+. You can barely convince people to subscribe to Netflix or Disney+ with all they offer. Does Daily Wire really expect those same people to pay the same amount for a microscopic amount of media by comparison?

Why did Daily Wire go back on its word, though? Well, it must rely on provocation to be relevant because apolitical media doesn’t pay the bills. It tried developing comparatively innocuous productions that might appeal to the centrist crowd, like Run Hide Fight and Terror on the Praire. Nobody cared.

It was particularly disappointing for Terror on the Prairie, considering it was a Western starring Gina Carano. The film’s marketing kept pointing out that Carano was fired from Disney’s The Mandalorian for her antisemitic and transphobic social media posts. But now she has returned with a kick-butt Western…that can only be watched on a right-wing streaming service.

When Carano was interviewed before the film’s premiere on Daily Wire+, she was asked why she decided to work with Daily Wire. Carano was careful with her words here, but it’s pretty clear from how she phrased her response that this was the only work she could find. For reference, Carano was dropped by both Lucasfilm and her agent after she was warned about her posts. It’s very telling that only after the film’s failure, rated low by the Daily Wire devout, Carano decided to sue Disney for her firing. This is a ploy, though. Given how she has presented it, she will never win this case. It’s just chest-thumping for her base.

PragerU has taken a different approach. They have their documentary movies that nobody cares about and cartoons aimed at young children. Daily Wire also has cartoons for kids, but the difference is that PragerU is trying to push these programs as school resources. These cartoons contain highly fabricated distortions of history under the guise of teaching kids to love America. The kids forced to watch this material for class are going to be woefully ill-prepared for the adult world, but, more to the point, these cartoons suck. They’re cheap, low-effort, poorly written, and boring. No kid is going to favor these shows as their favorite cartoon. They may pretend to appease their parents, but be real here; they will switch it to something less dry when their parents leave the room. The only kids who will watch PragerU cartoons are the ones forced to by their parents and teachers because that’s the only way any kid would ever watch this material.

This is why a lot of right-wing folks who consider themselves anti-woke need to pretend that some mainstream franchise or piece of pop culture media is on their side. Because if they don’t have that, what do they even have to champion anymore? A transphobic sports comedy that barely anybody knows about? A failed Western with a disgraced Star Wars actor who is now so desperate she’s suing Disney? A piss-poor cartoon that kids will only watch if they’re forced to in school? These are not suitable alternatives; this is the snake oil of right-wing grifters. You are not changing the media landscape by watching these productions. You are only staring further into the right-wing niche void.

Emily Compagno’s proclaiming Trek as her fandom of choice is not just a matter of ignorance but desperation. She needs something else to gravitate towards—something within pop culture that is still there for her, something that assures her that all of her conservative beliefs and values are still reflected in the past media she treasured. Something that is not woke, even if it has already been deemed woke.

Conservatives like to play pretend. They need to pretend that they were always right and that the politics of the media they consume was only a recent byproduct of a political paradigm shift, not something that has always existed. Simply put, conservatives don’t want to admit they were wrong. If they were wrong about Star Trek, they could be wrong about a lot more and be taken less seriously in their observations of media.

You can see how that breakdown happens with the recent realization of the politics within the video game Helldivers 2. This sci-fi shooter has the same level of fascistic satire present in Starship Troopers and was misread as such by a right-wing fanbase, figuring that the game was either apolitical or inline with their own politics. But then Mark Kern, a fired game developer trying to push Gamergate 2, learned that the community managers didn’t respect their views. Thus, the seemingly apolitical Helldivers 2 overnight went from being seen as a non-woke game to a woke game for featuring fascist satire. It was always fascist satire (duh), but now it was made crystal clear when the game’s community specifically told the right-wing provocateurs that they didn’t want them in their community. To this anti-woke crowd, this was not a misreading but deception, even though it was definitely a case of being media illiterate.

If Emily Compagno were, in fact, a Trekkie, then she’d probably be aware of how much Fox News, the network she is on, has pissed and moaned about this very franchise being turned woke. If she knows, she only offers up her Trekkie allegiance to fool her audience, who can’t remember what has happened with Star Trek for the past seven years. Ignorance, to them, is bliss because the truth that they were wrong is far more damaging to admit. They would rather drink the snake oil and forget about how much of the narrative they’ve lost.

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