Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Self-Centered Review of Girls Season 2

Since the crux of Girls’ protagonist Hannah’s personality is her self-centeredness, I think it’s appropriate that these thoughts on Girls, the HBO tv show, are self-centered.  The first impression I got when I started watching Girls was a bit of (guilty-feeling) relief that white girl problems were being explored.  I think that will sound offensive(like that I'm the type of white person who complains about affirmative action and reverse-racism) and I hope not – I understand that, especially historically, minorities in this country have much more serious or at least resonating problems than my own.  I do sincerely believe that racial profiling is more important than my own panic attacks, because racial profiling can be deadly, as we saw with Trayvon Martin.  But people can’t help but feel their own problems more immediately and painfully than they do more universal problems, and I think the relatively new slang phrase ‘white girl problems’ is … I guess a tiny bit hurtful to me (a white girl w/ problems) or at least unnecessarily flip.  I think that ‘white girl’ is often used as a synonym for ‘rich person’ and that is inaccurate, though of course statistically there are more rich white people, since in general we are handed more opportunities.  But does this give short shrift to the capabilities of minorities?  This isn’t a rhetorical question – I really don’t know if it’s racist to assume that a white person has more of a chance of societal success than, for example, a black person.  But seriously, what if a white homeless person walked up to a black man just getting out of his Lexus and was like "Hey, I feel sorry for you"  -- wouldn't that be, like, objectively offensive to the rich black man?  I don't know, maybe that's an insensitive hypothetical.  I do know that white girl doesn’t equal rich girl, though.  Growing up, at least two of my close white girl friends lived out of their cars and had shit like uncooked hot dogs and marked-down bags of chips for dinner, and school meals paid for by government programs for breakfast and lunch.   When I think of the problems of many white girls I’ve been close with, I don’t think of the clichéd problems of them not having enough money to buy the car they want, or wishing their nose was smaller, or whatever shallow problem people are referring to when they refer to 'white girl problems' – instead I think of the particularly white girl problem of anxiety, caused by things like sexual assault, abusive relationships, compulsive sicknesses like anorexia, cancer, and other things I consider serious.  Myself, I was severely physically attacked when I was 13, I have a connective tissue disorder that necessitated open heart surgery when I was 23, and I’ve been known to have a few more serious fucked up problems I don’t like to think about.  So, while I can see how people are often upset by the lack of racial diversity in Girls, especially when tv is so pervasive in our culture and can be used as a way to encourage acceptance (like how all the queer issues in Glee seems to have made queer culture more acceptable to the mainstream), Girls' show creator Lena Dunham has created a televised autobiography, so as an honest portrayal, it’s skewed towards white people, since that’s her personal experience.  This is obnoxious to a lot of people, especially since the show takes place in racially diverse NYC, and I do wonder if the show would be less enjoyable to me if I were not white.  The one minority I know who regularly watches the show doesn’t base much of her identity on the fact that she is Latina, so the show's whiteness doesn’t bother her -- or if it does, I'm not aware of it because she has never brought it up when we recap.  Instead, the constant nudity bugs her.  This is a show that really has a lot of factors that annoy people, which is why I feel compelled to defend it.  Dunham is a chubby young woman, and she is naked a lot on the show.  As a feminist, I love it every time I see that flawed (though not as flawed as some critics make it sound – she’s a bit chubby and a bit sloppy – big deal!) birthday suit of hers.  The bravery of this act is really diminished a lot in negative criticisms of the show, and I just can’t understand that.  Off the top of my head, another cable show I can think of with a lot of sex and nudity in it is the horribly written Californication, and I’ve never seen an average looking naked woman on that show – they all look like they put an extreme amount of time into their looks, whereas Dunham’s character Hannah is a neurotic and quirky writer – why would she need to look like she diets and works out, when her chosen profession includes sitting in front of a computer for hours (like my own neurotic, chubby and a little sloppy self, I guess)  Stay just the way you are, Lena Dunham and Hannah! 

In a more general sense, Season 2 was just about the most poignant show I’ve watched in a long time.  The character development is phenomenal and the plot is addictive; I had to watch all the episodes like IMMEDIATELY to know what was going to happen next with everyone’s careers and relationships, and especially with Hannah’s severe OCD, which is portrayed with heartbreaking intensity by Dunham.  Ugh, writing this blog is like an (unsuccessful)exercise in learning how to end a piece of writing, which I’ve always been bad at when it comes to non-fiction, which is not my forte.  So let me just end this with something from the heart but completely stupid – fuck yeah Lena Dunham!

No comments:

Post a Comment