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The series Cobra Kai has become a hit show and a cultural phenomenon, especially after Netflix bought it from YouTube Red in 2020. Although Netflix exclusively distributed its third season, the series was still produced by YouTube, and it wasn’t until the recent premiere of the fourth season that we were able to watch Cobra Kai as a 100 % Netflix product.
Netflix has earned a reputation for making productions with a pronounced woke ideology, while Cobra Kai has been practically the only exception in this regard in recent years. Not only had Cobra Kai not succumbed to this trend of woke progressivism, it actually openly mocked it. That is why the premiere of the fourth season of Cobra Kai was awaited with great anticipation — and a certain dose of morbid curiosity — to see how far Netflix could have influenced the direction of the series.
Has Cobra Kai become woke because of Netflix?
The short answer is no. Although there are certain signs of an ideological shift in the new season.
It has become fashionable lately to turn to 1980s hits for all sorts of remakes, reboots, sequels, and spin-offs. Nostalgia has become almost the only resource in the face of the lack of originality of the new generations of creators. This lack of originality can be explained by the prevailing fierce cancel culture, which binds and constrains artists, unable to take risks in their stories for fear of losing their professional careers.
The safe bet to win the approval of an industry ostensibly leaning to the left is to tell stories that do not go beyond the progressive narrative, nor dare to contradict the Marxist-based ideology.
Marxist dialectical materialism, once centered on the conflict between boss and worker, has now spread to other fields, setting society on fire with tensions between men and women, between races, between sexual orientations, and lately even based on people’s medical history.
This ideological framework explains why all the revivals of the eighties classics are dedicated to demolish — or to use woke’s own language: to deconstruct — the traditional characters and stories. Now the Master of the Universe cannot be a heterosexual white man but must be an empowered woman. Anne Boleyn has to be black, and the next James Bond is likely to be exotic, transgender, and with some quality that gives him extra points for victimhood and oppression.
Nevertheless, Cobra Kai has been a splendid oasis in this journey in the woke desert that entertainment has become. Cobra Kai also carried out this subversion of the original film, but in a very different way. Cobra Kai redeems and vindicates the “bad guy” of the original films, Johnny Lawrence, while taking down from his pedestal the hero of an entire generation, Daniel Larusso.
In the first three seasons of the series, we have been able to see Johnny Lawrence as a hero. Flawed and evolving, but as the hero after all. He fits the model of the “underdog” and the American dream. He is that endearing loser we identify with because he struggles in the face of adversity, tries harder with each failure, and maintains his good heart and personality even when he doesn’t fit in.
It is surprising that although it is not explicitly stated, the character is a “Trumpist.” Johnny Lawrence drinks Coors beer — and only Coors beer — he detests everything woke, everything hip, everything un-American and everything politically correct. By hitting first and hitting harder, he is dedicated to removing from the heads of his young students the woke and victim mentality that had them mired in depression, with no purpose in life, and easy prey for bullies.
Daniel Larusso’s character, on the other hand, has been lowered from the altars. Although it is not explicitly stated, he is portrayed as a progressive snob and Democrat, who is dedicated to importing foreign cars, drinking soy and believing himself to be the most supportive, empathetic and committed to social justice in the neighborhood. We see how his apparent success in life is built on a flimsy foundation, and throughout the series, he has to rethink his decisions so that his world does not collapse.
Unlike woke productions that dedicate themselves to deconstructing lifelong characters, ridiculing them or trying to make us see that they had been unfairly privileged, Cobra Kai is not cruel or cruel to anyone. So far we see how all the characters are on an arc of redemption, of learning, of understanding and getting closer to each other. In these polarizing and finger-pointing times, Cobra Kai is an almost miraculous relief, but most of all it is rabidly funny and original.
The changes in the fourth season of Cobra Kai
The Netflix-produced fourth season has a troubling new element, which, depending on how it is handled in season five, could be a fundamental shift in the spirit of the series. It is about the character of Terry Silver, recovered from the movie The Karate Kid III.
The new villain of the series revisits the cliché of the evil rich businessman. Although he has done some very bad things, he has not yet crossed any line of no return and it is possible that he will eventually redeem himself, but it is striking and worrying that Netflix has signed up for the easy appeal of the “inherently evil rich guy,” which could end up throwing away the essence of the series.
So far Cobra Kai has been the best cultural antidote to the prevailing woke culture and cancellation craze. Let’s hope Netflix learns from its example and success, and keeps it as it is now.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm