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How 'WOKE' tore through 2019 to become word of the year

Martyn Andrews
Martyn Andrews

is a British television presenter, broadcast journalist, professional actor, and singer. Follow him on Twitter @martynandrews

is a British television presenter, broadcast journalist, professional actor, and singer. Follow him on Twitter @martynandrews

How 'WOKE' tore through 2019 to become word of the year
2019 will be memorable for many reasons: Boris Johnson got elected, Green Book won best picture Oscar, Trump got impeached and Global Language Monitor announced 'Woke' as Word of the Year.

According to Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst at the Global Language Monitor, the word 'Woke' and society's new identitarian outlook on life has been gathering steam for a decade and "sins of the past are now viewed in the context of the present as subjects to be rectified, awakened to the call of social justice."

The electrifying buzzword has set cultural, social and political platforms alight in 2019, and it's been an eventful year in the land of Woke, as passionate social justice warriors battled it out against anti-PC crusaders. To prove the literary zeitgeist of the word, British comedian Andrew Doyle (aka Titania McGrath) even fooled a UK publication by pretending to be a horrified author appalled at revolting jokes purely because it pushes the "woke" media agenda. The fake author called for "hate speech" investigations into popular comedians who are "offensive" and just "not funny." Doyle, 1 - The brainwashing mainstream media, 0.

Several books were written about this fascinating modern issue of social guilt too. One is titled 'The Problem With Everything' by Meghan Daum, which evaluates the ideology of liberal left millennials and how far she believes the woke left has overstepped. Meanwhile in November this year The Colombia Journalism review suggested it's time to simply ban the four-letter word from media.

Too harsh? Or is there a substantial claim behind such an action? Consider these 2019 phenomena: in October, Sheffield University Students' Union banned white students from attending anti-racist meetings; nativity scenes have been banned from shopping malls and villages across the UK because councils want to be "religiously and politically neutral"; and Whitehall Primary School in East London changed the lyrics of the carol 'Away In A Manger' from "lord" to "little baby" for inclusivity reasons, causing outrage among some parents.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern says the lyric change is religious discrimination. "Removing the Lordship of Christ at Christmas guts the Christian message of its truth around which the whole of Western civilization once based its culture," she said. "Let's put the Lord Jesus Christ back into Christmas."

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To the dismay (or glory) of others, the arts has been trampled on by the woke, too. In this year's prestigious Tate Turner Art Prize the top artists were all united by their strong narrative towards political causes. The four works expressed ideas about immigrants, gender politics and general contempt for western culture. Their dogmatic, over-political artworks all raised eyebrows in a running theme.... that doesn't seem to be losing steam.

With the chaotic mess of Brexit and the social and political division of Trump's America, the Woke "moral panic" of today is something none of us need. Wokeness has shaken up the fashion world, the cosmetic industry, music, television and advertising. Several plays named 'Woke' have been staged in 2019 and it has even made its way to politics.

The four-letter word might only have entered the Oxford English Dictionary last year as meaning "alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice" but its effect on everyday culture is only too apparent. Will the fad last or is it just a blip in the millennial mindset?

Perhaps someone in 2020 will wake up and realise that over-promoting the theories of 'woke' might have started as a rational theory to stamp out racism and other forms of discrimination... but it is now in danger of becoming a parody of its own creation.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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