Friday, January 25, 2013

A little light culture: Circling the wagons around Girls

There is a small panic in Girls-land as season 2 gets underway.
But there's something about Girls that seems to drive critics a little nuts, inspiring them to pick up slings and arrows that ought to be aimed at the television industry as a whole and use them instead solely against Dunham.
Yes, the show is being attacked by critics. It might be snuff'd out by an article!

To fans of the show, and there aren't many, any criticism at all is "irrational". It's like a cult for them. And with only 866,000 fans tuning in for the heavily hyped season premiere the term "cult" is as apropos here as with Scientology.

And then there is the bizarre admission hidden in the line above: Why are they singling-out this show for doing the same stupid things as everyone else does? That's not crazy but it's quite a come down from "the voice of a generation" to "no worse than any of the other crap on TV".

The thing is that the show is not unrepresentative. There really are young women, lots of them, whom a show like Girls could speak to. Wednesday I was on the bus and overheard a conversation between two young women. The subject was the efforts of one of the girls to manipulate the boy who currently has the status of guy-who-has-sex-with-her into assuming the status of boyfriend. It was all pretty pathetic. She is trying to shame him into staying overnight instead of leaving after sex. She has also started borrowing his clothing and stuff and leaving it in her apartment instead of returning it.

And, just in case that isn't pathetic enough, she has started psyching herself up to do sexual things he wants but she finds degrading including changing her dress from bland to slutty.

That last detail inspired her friend to ask what she plans to do when her mother sees her "new style"., The first girl said her mother will just have to get used to it. Here is how the rest of that conversation played out:
"Your mother will yell at you."

"She can't."

"Yes she can."

"She can't. It would be a double standard."

"Just because your mother is a skank it doesn't mean she can't yell at you for being one too."
You know, that last response is rather profound. On several levels. And it goes right to the heart of the problem with Girls. Yes, this generation of women is a confused mess trying to pass off self-degradation as self-assertion. That's not so bad as that is true of every generation. Yiddish proverb: What the daughter does, the mother did. The problem is that this resignation is being passed off as rebellion.

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