I cannot think of a show in recent memory that has garnered as much press and critical conversation as Girls. I find it a little baffling because other shows excite me more, but whatever. If this is what we’re going to talk about, this is what we’re going to talk about.
My issues with Girls are well documented so I am not going to belabor those points. The show has good things going for it too. One of those good things is that we get to see a reasonably attractive (but not conventionally Hollywood attractive) woman, Dunham, with a normal body—curves, gentle sagging, humanity.
Of course, people are going to comment because Hollywood and the fashion industry and other forces have so radically skewed our perception of what a normal body looks like but her body is defiantly exposed to us, every week.
I was idly reading this recap of girls by some men at Slate when I stumbled on curious statements!
Daniel Engber asks, “Why are these people having sex, when they are so clearly mismatched—in style, in looks, in manners, in age, in everything? Why is he kissing her and begging her to stay over? Seriously, Dave—why?”
Later, he says, “I felt trapped by my unwillingness to buy into the central premise. Narcissistic, childish men sleep with beautiful women all the time in movies and on TV, so why should this coupling be so difficult to fathom? I think it’s because Hannah is especially and assertively ugly in this episode. She’s rude (“what did you do?” she asks Joshua, referring to his broken marriage), self-centered (“I’m too smart and too sensitive”), sexually ungenerous (“no, make me come”), and defiantly ungraceful (naked ping-pong).”
The moral here is that lesser attractive women, by this unspoken rubric of attractiveness, need to be polite, sexually generous, graceful, and selfless to deserve the penis and attention of a conventionally attractive man.
MIND THESE RULES, LADIES! There are leagues in fucking. Don’t fuck out of your league if you aren’t prepared to be perfect in every other way.
Now, these guys are just being honest and expressing their opinions, it’s all good, but I found the exchange fascinating and sad. I appreciate that they recognize how the rules are vastly different for less than conventionally attractive men. It’s a shame they cannot accept that there are any number of reasons people are attracted to one another that defy the nonsense Hollywood tries to shove down our throats.
Despite my many issues with Girls, I am at least grateful that Dunham is bringing so many people’s bullshit out, so it can stink in the wide open.
I had a conversation about this episode with a friend last night (hey, buddy!), but I alas still haven’t had time to watch it. I was able to talk about it anyway, though, because his position was essentially “No one wants to look at Lena Dunham naked. She’s just punishing the viewer or she’s deluded herself into think she’s attractive. Either way, it makes for intrinsically bad TV.”
Now, I won’t even get into the levels of nakedness and middle-aged flabby sag ass I have to see in virtually every show starring someone with a relative amount of power or clout in hollywood (looking at you basically every comedian). With those guys (always guys), it’s funny. I mean, this is beyond basic. It’s supposed to be funny because of some Yiddish word I don’t give a shit about has somehow gotten scorched earth branded onto the western consciousness in re: concepts of humanity, comedy, and what’s acceptable about art. Except it has nothing to do with art. Nothing at all. Nothing to do with art. Nothing at all. It has nothing to do with art. It has to do with money. It has to do with money. It has to do with money. IT HAS TO DO WITH MONEY AND CAPITALISM.
I’m sorry not sorry. I’m not sorry. If you’re too stupid (or are too short sighted, I might mean) to realize that your reaction to Lena Dunham has been conditioned by the utter capitulation of art to the marketplace, then I am not sorry that you’re feel as if you’re being punished. I’m legitimately angry that someone has to look like Taylor Swift in order to have their version of art taken seriously or even defended very much at all by men. And women, of course, can form whatever conclusions they want. But as a man, I have absolutely zero problem watching a still-developing, thorny, sometimes entertaining, sometimes pained depiction of a form of life I at least am very familiar with, a form involving big yelling matches and even bigger feelings, even if (especially if) it involves seeing Lena Dunham as naked as she wants to be. It is, I think, the ultimate resistance of an artist to the probably inevitable total decline of art in the face of money. It is the opposite of hearing saggy gut jokes made by Louis CK. It is the opposite of seeing Jason Segal’s dick. What better symbol of chauvinist capitalist art than seeing a tubby guy’s stupid dick? And it’s the opposite of sleek, plasticized representations of human matter. It’s life and art.