‘Tar,’ Neal Brennan Show How To Mock The Woke

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It takes a Sherlock Holmes-level of scrutiny to find liberals tweaking their own across pop culture.

Late night comics not named Greg can’t bring themselves to tease progressive politicians, woke culture or Identity Politics. “Saturday Night Live” uncorked a killer faux commercial in 2017 for “Woke Jeans.”

The comedy institution has mostly stayed silent on the woke revolution ever since.

Most mainstream stand-ups follow suit, obsessing on Trump jokes and Red State foibles while ceding comic territory to alternative platforms like The Babylon Bee.

It’s why two recent pop culture moments stand out. Far, far out.

Cate Blanchett’s “Tar” follows a crusty conductor whose personal life overlaps her professional career.

The Oscar-winner could snag another nomination for the role, but one scene in particular is turning plenty of heads.

The sequence finds Lydia Tar (Blanchett) berating a student who has little interest in playing music written by “white, male, cis composers.” She excoriates him for that stance. 

Don’t be so eager to be offended … the narcissism of small differences leads to the most boring conformity.

Lydia Tar in “Tar”

She gets tougher, noting that he might one day be judged for his immutable characteristics instead of the quality of his work.

Now, what kind of criteria would you hope that they use to do this? Your score reading and stick technique, or something else?

Lydia Tar

Two powerful notes here: one, the character being berated responds with profanity and flees. He’s a snowflake, someone willing to dish out cultural punishment but unable to take it, let alone defend his views.

Two, Blanchett’s character is seen as a Harvey Weinstein-type in the film, preying on students in a less than healthy fashion. She’s a villain.

Cate Blanchett poses at a special screening for TÁR in Sydney, Australia.
Cate Blanchett poses at a special screening for TÁR in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Hanna Lassen/Getty Images)

Still, most people haven’t seen the box office disappointment to get the fuller picture. For them, that isolated clip feels like a thunderclap, a long overdue one at that.

Over at Netflix, the streamer just released a second comedy special with Neal Brennan. He’s not a household name, but he’s best known for co-creating “Chappelle’s Show.” His latest stand-up hour, “Blocks,” finds him sharing a not-so-shocking revelation.

He’s a liberal. And he proves it with an extended, and not-wildly-convincing, riff on so-called White Privilege.

What’s shocking, though, is how Neal Brennan pokes fun at his fellow liberals in the special.

Brennan acknowledges his liberal nature (“Look at me. Bone thin. I look like Rachel Maddow with a beard”) but doesn’t always feel like he belongs with his fellow progressives.

“Liberals are the least welcoming people on the planet. Republicans are having a blast, they’re 
grabbing p***y, shooting guns like ‘Westworld,’” he says.

“Liberals got to care about everybody. Not fetuses, but everyone else,” he says with a smile. “F**k a fetus. Who’s with me, liberals? I will punt a fetus down Wilshire if I see one.”

That’s a pro-choice riff that taunts the ghoulish nature of their decisions. Brennan shares more on what it means to be a progressive today.

“The problem with being liberal is there’s no amount of liberal that’s ever liberal enough,” he says. “If there’s a bunch of Republicans, and someone goes, ‘I’m a Republican.’ They go, ‘Come on in.’ If there’s a bunch of liberals standing around, and a liberal comes around and says, ‘Hey, I’m liberal,’ They’re like, ‘We’ll see.’”

Neal Brennan performs during The Drop In Hosted By Mark Normand, presented by Netflix, in Los Angeles, California.
Neal Brennan performs during The Drop In Hosted By Mark Normand, presented by Netflix, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Netflix)

“You can believe the right s*** as a liberal, but if you express it incorrectly, you’re f***ed,” he continues. “You ever try to talk about transgender issues in public? Even right now, you’re like, ‘we don’t gotta do this, Neal. Don’t go out like your boy. Just move on.'”

That’s a reference to Chappelle, his former colleague, who faced Cancel Culture’s wrath by telling jokes about the transgender community.

And, of course, Cancel Culture is owned and operated by liberals.

It’s smart stand-up rooted in the truth, and even the left-leaning crowd laughs along.

Neal Brennan also mentions how liberals care very deeply about the homeless problem until the solutions strike close to home.

He recalls reading a letter about a new homeless shelter coming to his Venice, Calif. neighborhood. “And I keep reading, and it says, ‘Across the street from your house,’ and I was like, oh, s***.”

“It was like being on a game show, ‘How Liberal Are You?’” he says. “You’re at an airport and a Muslim-looking man asks you to watch his luggage while he prays … How Liberal Are You?”

We can partially blame Bill Maher for these pop culture moments. The “Real Time with Bill Maher” host has been poking the far Left for years now, and doing so from a decidedly progressive point of view.

Maher will vote Democrat, always, but he’s honest enough to see the flaws in his own party. His cultural courage gives other progressives cover to do the same.

Let’s hope more realize how much fertile ground remains unexplored.

Written by Christian Toto

Christian Toto is an award-winning film critic, journalist and founder of HollywoodInToto.com, the Right Take on Entertainment. He’s the author of “Virtue Bombs: How Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul” and a lifelong Yankees fan. Toto lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, two sons and too many chickens.

Follow Christian on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HollywoodInToto

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