Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
In 1986, Huey Lewis and the News released one of their better hits, “Hip to be Square”.
It’s a tribute to “bourgeois bohemians”.
The band quoted from the book of Bobos in Paradise on the phenomenon where we people of the 60’s started to “drop back in”, cut our hair and work out while keeping our “Bohemian” tastes.
We made it “Hip to be square”.
So, in my ever-challenging effort to keep my hipness and not be too square, I got to thinking about being “woke”.
My Dad used to slap the bottoms of my feet when he wanted me out of the sack in the morning but this “woke” is not about foot-slapping.
“Woke” is a term defined as “aware of and actively attentive to fads and issues”.
I guess I’m okay so far.
Where it starts to be “sticky” is when my “wokeness” is specifically connected to “issues of racial and social justice”.
I might be too white.
There was a time when you could mention the word “racial” and folks wouldn’t cringe or assume a defensive position.
Being “woke” actually dates back to about 2014.
Now, I’ve always thought I was a pretty “woke” dude, not only about social and racial matters but life in general.
I thought of myself as a wide-horizon sort when it came to being “woke”.
But the term has narrowed as society continues to try to subdivide us more and more to prevent any true agreement or cooperation.
I guess I just can’t be “woke” unless I display equal parts racial, social and sexual components.
You see, what Huey Lewis and the News was singing about was when we “children of the 60’s”” with our long hair ands protest songs joined the real world and started to buy homes, raise families, and earn a living.
While the faded and torn bell bottoms and flannel shirts and bandanas were replaced by slacks and polo shirts, we still had our 60’s idealism beneath the “wash ‘n wear” duds we were sporting.
We couldn’t say, “Take the ‘man’ down!” because we were ‘the man’.
While we used to be “with it”, now you have to be “woke”.
And, much like my generation, we had trouble thinking ‘the man’ could be ‘with it’ just like those today who feel no one is ‘woke’ but them.
It’s these same “woke” folk who toss the term “Karen” about.
“Karen” is a pejorative term for a white woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal.
This 2010 stereotype would be an “aggressive, mini-van-driving white Mom”.
We had a similar 5 letter word for that genre in the sixties and the word began with the letter “b”.
“Karen” is further subdivided into “Becky” which is a “younger, white woman unaware of or taking advantage of her privilege”.
Some call “Becky” the new “Valley Girl”.
A “Becky” is ‘basically basic, completely unoriginal and mainstream…a privileged, sheltered, generic and unlikeable white woman”.
But it further subdivides into a “Stacy”, a typically white, blond woman with a porn-star body, and deemed promiscuous by men.
Now, our youngest daughter is “Stacey” and she does not come close to fitting that description.
Maybe that’s why we spelled her name with the ‘e’ between the ‘c and y’.
Oh, by the way, there’s a male counterpart to ‘Karen, Becky and Stacy’.
But here’s the real kicker to this 2020’s name game.
Using these names to describe people CANNOT be defined as racist ‘because they poke fun at the dominant group within a system of oppression’.
I guess some lives matter more than others.
‘Woke, Karen’ Becky, Stacy and Chad” is nothing new.
We were singing and chanting the same stuff in the 60’s.
The difference is today, if you’re not ‘woke’, a ‘Karen’, ‘Becky’, ‘Stacy’ or ‘Chad’, you would have simply been known as ‘the man’ in the 60’s.
I turn to one of my favorite philosophers of the sixties.
James Marshall Hendrix (born as Johnny Allen Hendrix) better known as “Jimi Hendrix” was singing a lot about “wokeness, Karens” and the such in the 60’s.
From his “Axis; Bold as Love” album was the selection, “If 6 Was 9”.
It was part of the soundtracks of the 1969 movies “Easy Rider” and the 1969 flick “Point Break”.
“White-collared conservative flashing down street,
pointing their plastic finger at me.
They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
but I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high.
Fall mountains, just don’t fall on me.
Go ahead Mr. Business Man,
you can’t dress like me.
Sing on Brother.
Play on drummer.”
Feel free to exchange ‘woke’, ‘Karen’, ‘Becky’, ‘Stacy’ or ‘Chad’ for any of the words noted in the above lyrics.
Pretty much the same message, just different terms to describe it.
Maybe 6 is 9…