Wednesday, April 18

Opening My Big Fat Lady Mouth.

There's a whole lot of noise surrounding Girls. Just this big, white background-black text website article clutter-filled shitstack surrounding the show, and a cloud of chaos I personally, as someone with a vagina in her pants and a psychotic dream of someday becoming Lena's friend in her brain, hoped to stay away from. But, my brother strongarmed me multiple times into writing up a hoozernany about the whole thing, and considering he recounted yesterday with "someone came into the ER who got shot in the head!" and with mine being "I saw a concert and my hips hurt from walking home from a hair appointment", I'm not going to question the so clearly smarter sibling's viewpoints.

Vaginas and opium and internships and spaghetti and maid money aside, there are three main things that everyone's shitting their maxidresses about: cupcake-gate, white-washing. and the abomination of overpriveledged women.

Let's break this down, shall we?

The cupcake thing.

So, sure, I've never eaten a cupcake in the bathtub. But I HAVE eaten a cracker on the toilet and god damn, I'm not ashamed to admit it. Things go in, things go out, WHATEVER, you can't always time these things perfectly, and bananas and coffee are so easy to pair together for breakfast that the two journeys sometimes coalesce.

Still, though, the only reason nobody's combined icing and cleansing is simply a matter of circumstance. Some of us have friends we feel comfortable flopping around naked in front of. Some of us also have friends who can tolerate a plate of pristine, fresh pastries sitting out in the kitchen without popping them into their face in a row like a frosting drug fiend until they're gone. These two friends are never the same friend. And, if they by some odd chance they happen to be — randomly enough, my best friends in college worked the late shift at a whack local bakery for a short while and came home with a dozen leftovers every night — they most definitely are not the type of friend who keeps their tub sparkly clean enough to bathe in. One of said pastry-wielding roommates was a neat freak, and you'd still have to fill my veins with tequila to have my bare ass even come close to touching their dirty fucking pebble bath mat. Trust me, this is the ONLY reason no one else has ever eaten pastries while half-submerged in suds, otherwise some girl out there would already have a Pinterest album dedicated to "bathroom-themed cupcake fondant designs." Truth.

The race thing.

Some white people are friends with mostly white people. Some black people are friends with mostly black people. This is not a crime, nor does it mean that either party dislikes the other party, nor is this a thing. Seriously. I can't even believe I had to type that. If four black ladies wandered their way into my heart with a shared love for toy jewelry, overpriced pork buns and Instagramming photos of absolutely nothing worthwhile, I'd buy us all gold BFF necklaces and spend every waking ounce of time with them and ditch everyone else. Literally, if anyone liked those activities, even a centaur, I'd invite them over and ask them to please not buck me if I ride to dinner on their back and live out my Buzz Lightyear catchphrase fantasies.

Everyone's been complaining about the white-washing of the show, but god damn if there was a black person in the scene with the McDonalds conversation, everyone would be all "Why is there a token black person in this white lady's kitchen?" followed immediately by "Where are the Asians at, where are the Asians!!??!" followed immediately by "You can't call them Asians, and seriously, they couldn't stuff a Hispanic friend in here somewhere?" and so on and so fucking forth.

I'd like to refer you to the phenomenon I call "The Spanish Textbook Paradox." Think back to foreign language class in sixth grade — finally learning verbs, finally understanding "the possessive," finally succumbing to the terrible task that is making flashcards that will inevitably be thrown out the next day. Recall the front cover of that wretched textbook. If yours was like mine, it was bright red, called something utterly ridiculous, and featured the most asinine multicultural stock photo of every single type of child studying in a park. Every skin color, every ethnicity, even every disability, all wearing solid-colored t-shirts and so very excited to be learning Espanol.

Still, even with a Jewish kid in a wheelchair and a super tall Indian girl, where was the hermaphrodite? The obese boy with diabetes? The cheerleader with lesbian parents? I was a gawky, overweight weird-looking white girl in those days, and even if a few people on the cover of that book "looked like me," I would never stare at a pretty, slim brunette white teenager and identify with her. In fact, I'd think the complete opposite. Intentionally making everyone look different is far, far, far worse than everyone happening to look exactly the same.

Which brings us to more fun white people issues:

The overprivileged bitches thing.

I'm not going to get into that "labia saturation" insanity or how entertainment is skewed towards male viewers or cull up some term I learned from feminist friends in earlier days. There's really only one equivalent to the reality, humor and "cool" social stigma that Girls has effectively wrapped up on the opposite sex's spectrum, and that piece of programming is FX's The League. Which, for the record, I fucking adore.

Only one problem: you don't see guys writing in to Deadspin, angry about The League's portrayal of middle-class white men. You don't see New York Magazine blog posts highlighting the various internet arguments about why "of course, out of a group of four men, all are straight, white, live in nice homes and expansive lofts and have high-paying jobs as lawyers and doctors." You don't see a famously male-centric site going to town on how offensive and unrealistic their portrayal of their demographic is. (Here's looking at you, Jezebel.)

Everyone on The League is white, save for Raffi (who knows what the fuck he is) and Ruxin's wife, whose family is solely and constantly referred to as "The Conquistadors". Yet, has anyone ever been outraged at a group of white schmos chillin in a city, profusely worrying not about a competitive sport, but a competitive non-sport centered around a competitive sport? No. It's amazing! It's riveting. It's hilarious. Yet, when Girls features a handful of white women acting in similar, paralleled manors, it's an explosion of rich white people doing rich white people things, and G-chatting like the famous people's children and dumb bitches they are.

Cry over pastries, complain about the falsified plight of white women, whine about overprivileged upper-middle-classers, I don't care. Seriously, I really don't care. Truthfully, if the show makes you feel that way, or even makes you feel something, that's a success, because in the end, there's only one thing that matters about Girls, and it's not even anything from the first episode. It's the credits.

This. Women still don't usually get to do this. Any way you slice the complaint pie, it's a very, very big deal that this show is even on HBO, that this conversation is happening, or that you even know who that quirky, creative, normal-sized twenty-something Lena Dunham girl is. Watching those credits makes me excited and nervous and even a little bit sick because it is still so very, very hard to be young, female, creative, successful and famous without being a big ol' slut or losing your fucking mind. Britney Spears at 19? Britney Spears at 25. Eesh.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some waterproof taste-testing to tend to.


kelly s said...

this is amazing. awkward city has the best damn blogger i've read in a long time.

Cate Young said...

Just found your blog and I like your writing, but I think you're oversimplifying "the race thing". It's not about representing each and every quirky thing that someone might experience. It's about acknowledging that different races STILL don't get their story told even after they've proven that story is worthy. Diabetes is not the same as race, and it's a little insulting as a WOC to hear you say that.

Carlye Wisel said...

Oh, I don't think the story isn't worthy, not by any sense of the word. I just think that the by the constant media pandering over how everyone on the show is white is distracting from the fact that it's an immense accomplishment that the show is created and directed by a woman, and that it's completely natural that this group of six or seven people could consist only of white people, with no offense intended towards anyone. It's just endlessly tricky because it's a rabbit hole — just look at the internet explosion over Donald's character's inclusion, despite him even being cast before criticism rolled in. It's a tricky situation, and a discussion that really doesn't have a solution.

Janine Fowler said...

I hope you get an alert to this comment, as it's from an older post, but I've read all the new recaps. :) I'm surprised you don't have more comments!!

I really love all of your recaps, and have shared them with friends & on Twitter, but I had to comment GOD DAMN RIGHT when it comes to The Race Thing. I absolutely agree - and have been saying - that a homogeneous white cast is much better and more genuine than having token characters. When they introduce Donald Glover it just feels ridiculous and you don't believe he would ever fuck Hannah... Like, you believe it even less so than with other guys she fucks. I feel like without the pressure, they wouldn't have brought him in, and the show would have eventually found a more authentic way to add some variety. (LOVE the Spanish textbook comparison.)

I'm thinking of doing my own Girls recaps next season, but I'll definitely have to write mine before I read yours. So much good!

Carlye Wisel said...

@Janine I still read these!! Thanks so much for plunging into the archives! So glad to hear your perspective, and def do keep me in the loop if/when you start reviewing! xo

Lee Shin said...

spot on with this write-up, i like the way you discuss the things. i'm impressed, i must say. i'll probably be back again to read more. thanks for sharing this with us.

Lee Shin

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