Of ‘Woke’

by Shelt Garner

Because we live in an age devoid of nuance, it’s really difficult to pin down exactly what being “woke” means. It seems to me the whole notion of “wokeness” is more about the *fear* of being “canceled” by the “woke cancel culture mob” than it means something concrete.

And to figure out who is “woke” and why, requires one to juggle a few different causes in one’s mind at once.

One issue that has prompted the debate over “wokeness” is social media. Social media allows the most extreme points of view to dominate the discussion of any subject. Meanwhile, it is clear that a lot of GenZ people honestly do have different cultural tastes than their older peers.

As such, social media causes the most sensitive of GenZ people to put the fear of God into older people who fear being “canceled” for the slip of the tongue or something similar. I can tell you from my own life that I know people who are on a hair trigger for the possibility that their life will be ruined because they’re recorded by someone saying something that “doesn’t fit the media narrative.”

But again, all of this is very murky.

It is interesting than comics are often the ones who bitch and moan the most about the “woke cancel culture mob.” I think that may say more about older comics not understanding the comedy tastes of GenZ than it does there being some sort of raging band of woke people who scour the earth for people to cancel.

The more I think about it, the more I struggle to understand it all. I’m a loudmouth crank at times and I have, indeed, been attacked by people on my Left who are extremely touchy about the usual “woke” things. But these incidents are actually few and far between — but they leave a mark because of how fucking annoying they are.

But wait, there’s more.

Because MAGA Republicans, by nature, work only in bad faith, they have latched onto the idea of “wokeness” as a catch all for anything that they disagree with. To the point that they don’t even know what it is they think “being woke” actually means.

If pressed, I would say “woke” is a form of cultural Leftism that is has a sometimes absurd orthodoxy that is hypersensitive. Or something. It’s one of those “I know it when I see it” type of things. I don’t feel comfortable getting into too much detail about such things because, well, “woke people” might get angry at me. (Which kind of proves my point about the fear of being canceled is more powerful than anything “woke” people might actually be able to do.)

But I also think it’s a very, very small number of people who qualify as “being woke.”

But because of the bad faith arguments of MAGA Republicans and the nature of social media, that tiny minority of “woke” people has a huge amount of influence on the cultural as a whole. It all boils down to the FEAR of being “canceled” by the “woke cancel culture mob,” even if pretty much most of the “canceling” that happens is just regular old accountability.

So, in some sense, the fear of the “woke cancel culture mob” that a lot of older people have is simply the generation gap. They just don’t understand younger people and they have a wistful anger towards people they feel should know better.

Anyway. I’m sure I’ll get canceled one day.

I May Rile Up Woke People With This Novel Because I’m A Smelly CIS White Male Writing About A Romantic Relationship Between Two Women

by Shelt Garner

Oh boy. This is an instance where being a smelly CIS white male isn’t exactly the most helpful. I have come up with a really interesting plot point for this novel — a woman who doesn’t see herself as gay having a torrid relationship with a young woman who is a free spirit — and every once in a while I do a gut check and worry the “woke cancel culture mob” will freak the fuck out that I’ve done such a thing.

I hope to write a novel as interesting as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

This particular element of the story is fun and provides a lot of comic relief to the story and also keeps the story going at a fast clip. And, yet, I’m not a 20something undocumented transgender woman writing about such things, but a smelly middle-aged MAN.

But, lulz, I never what I’m supposed to do and this is where the Muse has taken me for this novel and I guess I’m stuck with it.

At least I’m really, really self-conscious about what I’ve gotten myself into. I understand why me writing about lesbian stuff from a female POV as a smelly CIS white male might be….a problem. The way some young women talk on Tik-Tok, I have no right to exist as a human being, much less as an aspiring male author who occasionally writes from a female POV.

I wish I had a wife or a girlfriend to be my Reader. Then, at least, I would have woman to tell me when maybe I have taken things too far, even if you give me the benefit of the doubt. And, yet, Stieg Larsson wrote some pretty crazy shit in his novels and they were a success.

Yeah I Fucking Hate The Bechdel Test

by Shelt Garner

I noticed in my Webstats that someone made a bee-line to my rant about my hatred of the Bechdel Test, so I thought I would write another post to make it even more clear: I fucking hate the Bechdel Test.

And here’s why — the point of any story is to entertain the audience, to tell a great yarn.

It should not matter if you pass this or that cultural or political test beyond that. Now, if I happen to past the dumb Bechdel Test, I will be the first to crow about it. But I’m not going to go out of my way to pass it because I’m going to be too busy struggling to tell the best damn story I possibly can.

The fact that the Bechdel Test is considered by its creator to be a “half-joke” doesn’t make things any better. So, you mean to tell me, that I have to contort my novel in such a way that two women talk about something other than a man…because of a fucking half joke in a comic strip?

Now that’s a form of “woke” that makes my blood boil and gets me ranting — and I’m not even drunk!

Will The Mythical ‘Woke Park Slope Moms’ Like My Novel?

by Shelt Garner

Now, let me be clear — I have always been making a joke about “woke Park Slope moms” whenever I mentioned them as an audience for this novel. And, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’ve failed even if I was being serious — this novel is shaping up to be a trashy, somewhat pulpy page turner with a lot of spicy scenes and a curious premise: a part-time stripper’s obsession with owning a community newspaper.

A building in the Park Slope area of NYC.

I think if this novel is popular among “woke Park Slope moms” it will be popular for the very reason why it’s not “woke” — it has a lot of spicy scenes. The downside, of course, is that I’m a smelly CIS white male writing those spicy scenes, sometimes from a female POV.

But these are wine moms we’re talking about, so it’s at least possible that the same dynamic that made 50 Shades of Gray a big hit might be in play when it comes to this novel. I really like what I’ve come up with. This novel is colorful, different and interesting — just like me.

A lot will depend on marketing of this novel once I somehow, magically, manage to get an agent and then sell it. I really want this novel to be an old brown shoe to people who read the Stieg Larsson novel’s 20 years ago. If I can tap into that same audience, then, well, we’re cooking with gas.

It will be interesting to see what happens, of course.

The Web Aether Acts In Mysterious Ways

by Shelt Garner

A lot must be going on with this Website that I can’t see with the Webstat software that I use. I mean, out of nowhere, all these people started to look very specifically at one particular link as if they wanted to know what the novel is about.

My heroine has the vibe of a younger, more freaky Morena Baccarin. But Baccarin’s general vibe and appearance is my heroine in my mind as I write her.

But there was no hint that this might happen.

It’s all very curious.

And the link they went to the one where I mull conspicuously about the “woke cancel culture mob” not liking my novel because I’m a smelly CIS white male writing about a part-time stripper obsessed with owning a community newspaper.

What the what? What is going on there?

If you wanted to be positive about it, you would say, well, obviously people from the infotainment-industrial complex are intrigued by your novel and are seeing what happens next. If you want to be paranoid about it, you say they’re about to write a screenplay off of what I’ve reveled about the novel and I’ll wake up to find out that while I’m querying, an A24 movie with my exact premise is in production.

My heroine sports a sleeve tattoo similar to the one that Megan Fox now has. Even though I thought the idea up first!

It really could go either way, I suppose. I just don’t know. It’s not like anyone is going to tell me. Ugh.

As I wrote, I continue to worry about the reaction on the part of a sizable portion of the audience about my heroine being a part-time stripper. I *try* to be as empathetic to the female experience as possible — I often write from the female POV — but there are going to be some young women who just can’t handle me doing it, periot, as they say.

But if I could make the novel really fun and accessible, then maybe I might have a breakout hit novel on my hands and people won’t care or notice about my status as a smelly CIS white male. Though, if you’re all that curious about me at my worse — read this:

So, I just have to keep writing, racing into the future not knowing my fate. This does, however, make me want to start to work on a back up “second track” novel — a scifi novel specifically — just to have something to piviot to in case my worse case fears become a reality.

I’m At A Loss As To What I’m Going To Do About Querying My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

I’m well on my way to finishing the third draft of my first novel. The novel will tell a coherent, cohesive story. It’s not the story I thought I was going to tell when I started this process a few years ago — but it tells a story. And, what’s more, it ques up a number of successor novels in the same universe that will be really compelling.

The heroine of my novel looks like Morena Baccarin.

At least, that’s what I believe.

I am soon going to wrap up the “actively delusional” part of this journey and enter the world of reality where I have to convince liberal white women who make up the majority of literary agents that I can tell a good story about a part-time sex worker who is trying to buy a community newspaper.

At least I can explain the story a lot easier than before. It used to be that the story was a lot more muddled and difficult to explain. Now, I understand what the story is about.

But there are A LOT of problems.

Like, what novel do I “comp” this novel to? What genre is this novel, since the murder doesn’t happen until well into the second half of the story. I just don’t know. And, when you add how bitter people seem to become whenever they enter into the land of querying, well, lulz, oh boy.

My heroine sports a sleeve tattoo similar to the one that Megan Fox now has, even though I came up with the idea first.

I’m going to have to shift gears bigtime once I finish the novel and start to query seriously. So much so, that I don’t even know if I can continue to write, even though I know I have to. Querying is a job and struggle unto itself, it seems.

But I do have a number of other stories I want to work on while I query the first novel. And I hope to have the second novel in the series I’m working on — one that is a traditional murder-mystery-thriller done pretty soon as well. It will have most of all of the same characters as the first novel and a few new ones.

It will definitely be interesting to see how things work out. I’m sure I’m going to make many, many, many, many mistakes and probably have already made a lot by just being me.

Does Dune 2 Portend The End Of Woke Hollywood?

by Shelt Garner

I continue to see a deluge of dude’s dudes being ecstatic about Dune 2. And, I think as Scott Galloway would note, the reason for the success of the movie is it wallows in “dude stuff” that young men feel a connection to.

And I will admit that even as a middle aged man, I was leaning into when some of the “dude stuff” scenes were on the scene. Even though Dune 2 is a “film” and The Empire Strikes Back was a “movie” both movies appeal to young men’s sense of themselves.

A whole 10,000 word New Yorker article could be written contrasting and comparing The Empire Strikes Back with Dune 2. The Star Wars franchise stole from the Dune books a great deal and is far more accessible to the audience, but the Star Wars franchise is a “woke” mess at the moment.

While I think the term “woke” is bullshit, I do think that maybe Disney and LucasFilm could think more about how to tell a good story than how to give a reach around to the advocates of identity politics. And don’t get me started about selling little kids toys.

I do think it’s at least possible that Dune could now become a new major scifi franchise because young men — at least on Tik-Tok — are going crazy for Dune 2. What’s so curious about this is the movie is not a popcorn movie, but a prestige film. It will be interesting to see not only how things progress with the next movie but how the success of Dune 2 will influence Hollywood in general.

Is it at least possible that Hollywood will begin to think more about storytelling and not either churning out either a new MCU movie or another vanity project “woke” movie? Only time will tell.

Ah ha! I’ve Finally Figured Out What Hollywood Star My Heroine Looks Like — Nathalie Emmanuel

by Shelt Garner

I’ve finally found who I’m thinking of in my mind as I write my heroine and her adventures in my first novel — Nathalie Emmanuel.

Nathalie Emmanuel

My hope is, of course, that I will write a heroine who is as interesting as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. It will be interesting to see how things ultimately work out. A lot of writing a successful novel is just dumb luck. So, lulz, I could write The Bible and because I’m a smelly CIS white male writing from a female POV at times….the woke cancel culture mob will pillory me.

The dream is to write a character as interesting as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander.

I Think About Women Readers A Lot As I Write This Novel

by Shelt Garner

I do not purport to have any special insight into the female mind, but I do, at least, try to cater to that segment of the reading audience as I write this novel. I do this especially given the edgy, loaded nature of the novel.

I hope to write a novel that is as accessible as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

It’s not every day that your heroine is a part-time stripper.

Now, of course, if I was, say a transgender women writing this type of novel, then I probably be hailed as the second coming of Jesus Christ. But, alas, I’m just a smelly CIS white male — a middle aged one at that! — and, as such, slings and arrows and all that.

I have a vision for this novel and, as such, I’m prepared to take shit for what, of course, will be reduced down to “stripper solves a murder mystery.”


That’s not what’s going on! But no one is going to listen to me. Anything to do with sex and women — especially something out of the ordinary — is the thing that people will focus on. And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of how Hollywood would market any adaptation of the novel should that miraculous thing somehow happen.


I’m really self conscious about how women readers might react to this novel to a fault. I have a few women “advisers” that help me when I feel a little bit nervous about this or that thing that I might broach in the novel while writing from a female POV.

But, like I said, I can only do so much. I’m a smelly CIS white middle aged male and a vocal minority of the reading audience will dismiss the novel the moment they see what I look like.

Modern Gender Politics & Pop Culture Are So Fucked Up

by Shelt Garner

There is a small — but vocal — group of the reading audience that simply can not, will not, validate the idea that I, as a smelly CIS white male, would, at times, write from a female POV in this novel.

And it’s only going to get worse the moment they learn my heroine is a part-time stripper.

And, yet, fuck it, we’ll do it live.

I am so matter-of-fact about the sex worker side of things that I think, within the context of the novel, that it won’t be seen as too terribly gratuitous. It’s just there’s a lot –a LOT — I can do with the whole stripper side of things to make the story really interesting and enjoyable so, lulz, why not.

And Barry — which dealt with an equally surreal professional life — was a success. But that was a comedy, so, I suppose it’s not a one-to-one.

And I am well aware that someone might steal a creative march on me, given how long it’s taking me to write this damn thing. As such, I really need to start to work on some backup stories.