Apr 27, 2012

'girls' on film.

Quick question: have you seen both episodes of Girls?  Second question: if no, has that stopped you from writing/blogging/snarking about Girls?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

(If not, you can watch the entire first episode on YouTube here.  HBO is worried that job-challenged 20something women might not be premium cable subscribers, so they're trying new things.)

Here's the thing - as the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast so brilliantly put it recently, this is what happens when a niche show gets hyped up beyond belief.  Despite what the bloggers and the NY echo chamber and everyone else has been writing about for MONTHS (seriously, when it finally premiered, wasn't it a letdown because you thought it had been on for a season?), this is NOT a show for everybody.

But that's okay.  It clearly is not being conceived or made as a show for everybody.  HBO shows are automatically not 'huge' hits in the way network shows can be.  It's a different model.  And within that model, there is going to be a range of shows - from 'it's not TV, it's HBO' to 'it is TV, only with more tits and ass and blood' (hey there True Blood!) to 'we don't know what this is yet but let's put it on.'  Girls, IMO, falls into the last category.  Which is fine.  And totally okay.  What is totally not okay is rather than saying 'oh, this isn't for me but I can see how it can be for someone' is to say 'UGH, LENA DUNHAM IS FAT AND WHITE AND DUMB AND PRIVILEGED AND THIS SHOW DOESN'T DESERVE TO EXIST.'

Firstly, if Lena Dunham is 'fat,' I am going to go up to every single woman whom I am friends with and give them a hug.  Then I am going to take a long hard look in the mirror.  I'm not going to lie - I used to be a lanky bastard, now I'm more Jason Segel-ish.  (I love you antidepressants but I hate your weight gain!).  I'm blessed-ish with a good face and a sense of hunor.  I might not have a six pack.  Neither does Lena. But, odds are, neither do you.  Here's the thing, saying "I didn't get a boner when she showed her tits" is not an adequate or appropriate dismissal of the show itself because she is NOT showing her tits so you can get a boner.  Based on how the sex scenes are written/staged/acted/etc, it is safe to say that titillation is not on their agenda.  How often did you complain about Turtle and Drama pulling in extremely high quality poontang despite their less-than-conventionally-attractive looks?  Oh, you didn't?  But that's different, Entourage is just a fantasy, just a TV show or whatever.

Well, my dears, so is this.  It might be in a more indie mode or hailed differently but all art is artificial.  Taking an insular view of a certain demographic of Brooklyn girls in their 20s is not far removed from an insular view of Hollywood Brotastic-ness which, despite SEVEN SEASONS, never achieved the level of satire it promised.

Which is where we get into the 'white and privileged' criticism.  Yes, Girls is.  And so?

It is beyond disingenuous for white liberal writers to pull out the 'UGH, it's a portrait of NY without (m)any people of color and therefore it is BAD and SHOULDN'T BE ON TV!'  if they have remained silent about, say, How I Met Your Mother.  Or Bored to Death.  Or Friends.  Or SATC.  Or Louie.     This is entirely different than, say, looking at it in a larger perspective of TV's lack of racial diversity.  Or people of color wondering when the show that's 'the voice of a generation' is going to come along for them.  Is Girls racist?  Uh, maybe.  Depends on how you qualify 'racist'.  But as Maureen Ryan brilliantly put it - "Girls Isn't Racist, Television Is Racist (and Sexist)."  This is a conversation that needs to be happening, definitely.  But it is unfair to use the lack of diversity to dismiss the show offhand - without engaging with the show's content itself - and not condemn a bazillion other programs.

And here's where the show's content becomes crucial - that issue of privilege.  Firstly, being the daughter of the drummer of Bad Company is NOT the same thing as being Chet Haze.  I will pay 30 bucks cash money if you can find me ANYONE in the midwest (outside of film geeks) who knew who Lena Dunham's parents were before the coverage of this show/the press for Tiny Furniture.  So can it with the "this was greenlit because of nepotism" shit.  Seriously.  Going back to the aforementioned Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, they pointed out that NO ONE disses J.J. Abrams or Joss Whedon on being able to work in the industry because their parents did.  More importantly, this show is not acting as though the issue of privilege isn't an issue.  Quite the opposite.  It is, somewhat, the entire point of the show.  These people are, without a doubt, privileged.  And yet they think they are worldly and cultured rather than insulated.  They have 'first world problems' and yet, to them, their problems are so overwhelming and the end of the world.  That's the central conflict.  That's the satire.  That's the point.  You can dismiss it as being upper-class or Brooklyn or overly white or whatever.  But the show is aware of that.  So are the characters but not nearly as self-aware as they'd like.

Bad sex?  Struggling between ideals and reality?  Thinking one's worldliness is greater than it is? Welcome to being in your 20s.  Yes, it spoke to me.  As a white gay dude.  Not a fat rich NYC nepotist chick.  But if it didn't speak to you, that's cool.  But say that.  Or say 'I thought this scene was bad' or 'the acting didn't do it for me.'  Don't say "THIS FAT RICH WHITE CHICK DOESN'T NEED A PLACE ON MY TV."

Art earns itself the right to exist by the virtue of the content itself.  Not whatever qualities the artist has.  Or, in other words, if you have ever watched Chinatown and thought 'damn, that's a good movie' rather than 'Roman Polanski is a rapist and a horrible person and I must dismiss this now,' then shut your face.  That 'right to exist' can be granted by many things, but one of the main ones is, as they told us in screenwriting classes, 'having a voice.'  Which this does.  Clearly and distinctively.  It may be drawn from Woody Allen or Whit Stillman or whatever, but it is still a unique voice.  I picture that in a year or two or five, film types will know what you mean by 'Lena Dunham-esque' or 'get me a Lena Dunham type' as well as 'Wes Anderson-y.'  You don't have to like her voice.  You don't have to listen.  But you shouldn't try to silence it for reasons that have nothing to do with the show or the voice itself and have everything to do with white liberal guilt/hating fat chicks/etc.  If it speaks to your experience, great, but if it doesn't, that's okay.  But you can't dismiss that experience itself anymore than you can condemn the works of Spike Lee for being 'too black' or Hitchcock for being 'too British' without coming up with an actual criticism about the work itself.

Is she the voice of our generation?  Doubtful.  Is she a voice of a generation?  Definitely.


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Diga para você mesmo o nome do único rapaz ou moça com quem você gostaria de estar (três vezes)….

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