Left Side Story:
Spielberg Jumps the Sharks  

One of the most fascinating aspects of the woke cult is its fathomless lack of self-awareness. In a recent vignette filled with irony and foreshadowing, the woke cinematic titan, Steven Spielberg, jumped the intersectional shark and belly-flopped into a self-defeating cesspool of toxic imbecility.

In an interview with IGN’s Simon Cardy to plug his remake of “West Side Story,” the auteur explained why he didn’t use subtitles for the Spanish-speaking scenes: “If I subtitled the Spanish I’d simply be doubling down on the English and giving English the power over the Spanish. This was not going to happen in this film. I needed to respect the language enough not to subtitle it.”

Yep. Subtitles are offensive, if not downright racist. So, those who need subtitles to follow the movie—let alone those who choose not to see it—must be . . . . ? 

Questions abound. Does the woke cult regard as offensive racism the subtitling of the English dialogue when the film is targeted at Spanish-speaking audiences? One could also ask if the release of any of Spielberg’s films into genocidal Communist China will be captioned or overdubbed, which would give the Mandarin language “the power over” English. But let us leave these finer points of film-making morality for another day and another director.

How exactly did Spielberg arrive at the decision to reject English subtitles as an insidious manifestation of cultural hegemony?

[It was] out of respect for the inclusivity of our intentions to hire a totally Latinx cast to play the Sharks’ boys and girls . . . . I wasn’t going to entertain any auditions that [don’t have] parents or grandparents or [are] themselves from Latinx countries. Especially Puerto Rico, we looked a lot in Puerto Rico, we have 20 performers in our film from Puerto Rico or they’re Nuyorican. That was very important and that goes hand-in-hand with my reasoning for not subtitling the Spanish.

Setting aside the facts that Puerto Rico isn’t a separate country and its residents are all American citizens, Spielberg believes his woke decisions mean his movie “speaks a lot to what’s happening today in terms of what’s happening at the borders. It’s very relevant today to essentially the rejection of anyone who isn’t white. And that’s a big part of our story.” (Apparently, the question of why the very white Spielberg is directing this film rather than a historically underrepresented “Latinx” or Nuyorican is not part of the story.)

Speaking of storytelling, one of the classic literary tropes is when the audience knows a character is a poltroon but the character does not. Often, by the end of the third act, the character painfully realizes his buffoonery. Somehow, though, despite their deep immersion in popular culture, this realization never dawns on the preening, projecting disciples of the woke cult.

As a white director filming a gang fight between whites and Nuyoricans, Spielberg was aware of the intersectional quicksand onto which he was treading. Thus, during pre-production Spielberg and the screenwriter traveled to the University of Puerto Rico and sought student and the faculty opinions about how to handle the “problematic” text of “West Side Story.” After all, the material was inspired by the ultimate dead, white male: William Shakesp . . . (are we allowed to say his name?). 

Among other important conversations, Spielberg heard from Isel Rodriguez, a theater history major, who informed him that Puerto Ricans aren’t particularly desirous of living in America: “No one leaves this island without sobbing. 300,000 people left the island after [Hurricane] Maria and the scene at the airport was like a funeral. No one wants to leave. This is paradise.” Doubtless, these meetings had a dramatic impact on the filmmaker.

Still, Spielberg should also have checked in with U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who would have steered Spielberg away from his own culturally offensive linguistic faux pas.

In a December 6 Twitter thread, Gallego bluntly pointed out how offensive it is for woke cultists, like Spielberg, to foist upon Hispanics the term “Latinx”:

To be clear my office is not allowed to use ‘Latinx’ in official communications. When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias.

‘Look y’all. Hispanic, Latin American are gender neutral. So we have already gender neutral options to describe the Latino community. Adding an x and creating a new word comes off as performative.

It will not lose you an election but if your staff and consultants use Latinx in your mass communication it likely means they don’t understand the Latino community and is indicative of deeper problems.’

Echoing these sentiments across the partisan divide, Florida’s Lt. Governor, Jeanette Nuñez, bluntly tweeted: “I am proud to serve as the first Latina lieutenant governor of the great state of Florida—and I am offended by the term Latinx.”

While the University of Puerto Rico’s students and faculty may feel otherwise, Fox News reports a significant segment of the community agrees with Nuñez and Gallego. “A new poll found that just 2% of Hispanic and Latino voters recognize the term ‘Latinx,’ while 40 percent of participants feel offended by it.” (Maybe if another “West Side Story” remake is presented by a Hispanic director, the “rich, white, progressive” Jets will call the Hispanic Sharks “Latinx” and all hell will break loose?) As for the remainder of respondents, perhaps they just ignore the term, finding it irrelevant to their lives. 

Or perhaps they don’t. As a new Wall Street Journal poll reveals, the generic congressional ballot has the Hispanic vote evenly divided at 37 percent for both Republicans and Democrats.

Spielberg went the extra mile—or at least to the University of Puerto Rico—to burnish his woke credentials and, equally, escape the cancel-crazed wrath of his fellow cultists by talking to some of the two percent of Hispanics who embrace the term “Latinx.” The result? The insular experience only served to further dim Spielberg’s benighted perspective of the Latino community.  

The woke only talk to each other and all they know is what they’ve been told. In consequence, when the woke cultist Spielberg only converses with his fellow traveling cultists, it doesn’t challenge his Leftist ideology; it merely reinforces it. 

Thus, the risible climax, wherein the smug Spielberg virtue signals in support of his “West Side Story” remake, all the while this “rich, white, progressive” is culturally insulting the Hispanics of his target audience by using the term “Latinx.” Small wonder the remake’s early box office returns are “disappointing.” (This despite the fact the critics have universally praised the film, in what amounts to yet another example of the woke cult’s insularity.)

A hallmark of great cinema is the ability to bring home to audiences the irony of life. In the denouement of this deeply ironic performative moment, turning on the ignorance and hypocrisy of our woke, with “rich, white, progressive” Spielberg taking center stage, will his character arc see him transformed from a virtue signaling, culturally offensive, self-defeating poltroon into a more inquisitive, enlightened, and chastened person?

Spoiler alert . . .

Not a chance.

About Thaddeus G. McCotter

The Hon. Thaddeus McCotter is the former chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee, current itinerant guitarist, American Greatness contributor, and Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show."

Photo: Steven Spielberg seen on location for 'West Side Story' in Washington Heights on August 4, 2019. James Devaney/Getty Images

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