Wyatt Cenac’s Problems Areas starts the conversation


With no studio audience and wanting to emphasize a new approach, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas Cenac had to really spell out what he was seeking to do with his new show.

Cenac used his first episode to slowly begin a conversation that needs to happen instead of the toxic shouting match society has become. So toxic in fact, billionaires are already shipping their cars into space in advance of the eventual move.

Businesses led by these audacious individuals are just that. Elon Musk and Zuckerberg and the ghost of Jobs body and Gates charisma — these folks aren’t our friends looking out for us. They aren’t the cute start-ups we all remember. Our grandparents use them more than some hipster nonconformist that went flip phone.

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The businesses are out to make those hedge funds and shareholders happy. They aren’t exploring space and just doing adventure stuff from their teenage imagination. The Free Market is all about creating products that roping in a customer willing to give themselves over to the tech now.

Ain’t so free, but that’s always been the case. Any good history major should be able to give several examples.

The rich can afford to throw things away. The rest of us have to make do and duct tape it together. If we as a people pull together as a people, things will get better. The super-rich with their own rockets can fend for themselves. As for the rest of society, things can get better if we do it together.

However, we actually have to pull our shit together. The shit causing the problems can be addressed, even the literal shit that is killing fish which could help with the hunger problems of the world’s less fortunate.

Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas introduction maps out the show quickly by calling out the tried and true technique of studio audiences — audiences trained to think the way the studio told them.

Also, Cenac would focus on news labeled “Not Trump.” The big issues are a moving goal post and political footballs. One week it’s a big deal that is going to cause World War 3 and the next it is forgotten.

What issues can be focused on and actually matter week to week — but provide fresh newsworthy items? Which are the big divisive issues to focus on and which would just be stirring up all the white noise?

He does so while mocking spying women Alexa and Siri. Cortana is probably just as bad, but no one will give her a chance. Cenac decides the issue he needs to spy on was Policing.

Presidents, mayors, council members, victims, advocates, the reformed and the struggling unwelcomed refugee. Professors, youth organizers, lawyers, activist, the Mayor of NYC. Not everyone agrees.

Not everyone understands the true issues of the other side. Even the initial statements to introduce themselves are a cause of alarm to some.

Policing is the focus, but knowing where to focus first is tough, as even that is up for debate. So where to start? Training us as the audience has proved easier than training police, so Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas start there.

Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas is quick to point out that there is no nationwide standard for training police. The police training videos themselves are bad — showing a tone-deaf attitude with laughable diversity training. This introduced the blunt straightforward approach he would use to address the policing issues.

The following video on how to address a dog has grown more disturbing over time. The calmest dog ever is actually roped to a fence while a scared office stands several feet away uttering nonsense from a training manual that was probably a two-hour biannual class trimmed down to 20 minutes — a wink.

It is no stretch to imagine some assured cop giving the confident boast that most dogs are just fine and that they all know how to deal with dogs. Anyone can tell the bad ones from the lap dogs. I mean c’mon — this imaginary cop in the metaphor has three himself.

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Cops have become more divisive than they were ever meant to be. As the problems get worse, the cops cannot become more militaristic, standoffish, and actually, gravitate towards the bunkered attitude.

We have to open up the doors and let down the bridges to cross the divides filled with dark treacherous waters. If not, the same results from the same situations will continue. It has for decades. Well, at least since cell phones and videos existed at least. We can all see it now. It must be addressed properly.

Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas started with a wonderful introduction to a very long and complicated conversation. The rest of the season has a high standard to maintain. If it does so and Cenac leads the conversation honestly while asking questions to understand a person’s perspective this show could bring HBO some awards.

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Oh, and it may provide realistic solutions to a disjointed bureaucratic organization that built to protect and serve but now seems to be killing too many citizens for no apparent reason.