Steven Pinker writes books proclaiming that, thanks to the Enlightenment, everything is getting better and better. Traditionalists will beg to differ, and it does not suit progressives whose plans for the future are based around the idea that everything now and in the past is just terrible, to clear the ground for their planned utopia.
One of Pinker’s claims is that worldwide poverty has gone from 90% suffering from extreme poverty to just 10% – an astonishing reversal that is, of course, dependent on how poverty is defined. He also points out that violence and wars have diminished considerably, with far fewer dying in battles as a percentage of the population as was the case in the past. Missing from his analysis is any spiritual component. Traditionalists will argue that there may have been improvements in material conditions, but architecture is uglier than ever. Medieval cathedrals represented a high point for the love of beauty inspired by love of God and notions of the transcendent. These last two things are sorely diminished and largely replaced by hatred of imagined oppressors who are to be hunted down, excluded from the political process as much as possible, and silenced. The all-powerful oppressors can be conveniently identified by skin color, even if they themselves are dispossessed Appalachian mountain dwellers, or working class folk scraping by. So, Pinker misses an extreme spiritual impoverishment represented by ersatz religions aimed at heaven on earth achieved through scapegoating by a Gnostic elect who have somehow arrived at all the correct moral positions denied to the benighted knuckle-draggers.
Charles Haywood of the The Worthy House in a podcast, also available as a short article, On Battlefield V, addresses the question of how movie studios and video game manufacturers could continue making movies and video games that are detested by their audiences. Battlefield V cost $250 million to make with expected sales of one billion. By pushing a Woke agenda and anachronistically populating WWII battlefields with female soldiers, the giant gaming company Electronic Arts, halved their customers. Contemporary Star Trek and Star Wars movies similarly revile the males who make up the bulk of their past audience. It is now routine for tiny and weak actresses to pretend to beat up jacked men twice their size. A new apogee is being reached with Thor being played by microscopic Natalie Portman. The men who played the part had in the past worked hard to build giant muscles on their impressive physiques. For those of us utterly indifferent to comic book movie nonsense it is irrelevant except as a cultural bellwether.
The number of female players of Battlefield V is probably around 2%. Haywood writes: “They launched an organized campaign to denigrate and deplatform their own potential buyers.” And the chief creative officer wrote: “you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game. I’m fine with either or.” Such an attitude does not seem sustainable, and it is not. Adam Smith pointed out that owner-managers of privately owned companies have their interests aligned with the companies. Managers for hire of publicly owned companies have an agency problem. Their interests are not the same as the companies’. This is what is going on with the movie studios and the video game companies. It hurts managers not at all to follow diversity and inclusion mandates. In fact, it is a prerequisite for career advancement and for even just keeping their jobs. If they want to be invited to the right parties and to be able to get new jobs at new companies it is in their interests to be woke. The Electronic Arts executive seriously does not care about the well-being of his company, because his own well-being is actually enhanced by destroying his consumer base and virtue signaling.
For those of us less than enthusiastic about this trend, the good news is the movie studios and video gaming companies are digging their own graves. Stockholders’ interests are aligned with the fortunes of the company and simply losing all your money on movies that no one watches is not most people’s idea of fun. Perhaps, if people actually watched the virtue signaling movies someone could imagine he was doing something virtuous in some kind of “hearts and minds” campaign, but to make something intensely unpopular and berate your audience for not liking it seems like cheap thrills and giggles for executives only. The razor company Gillette is a notable contributor to this trend when it accused its consumers of toxic masculinity. “Go woke and go broke” might be true of companies, but not of their managers. It seems likely that Gillette’s managers are doing just fine.