Why Girls Is Important for Girls
why girls is important for girls
When I first saw Lena Dunham in Tiny Furniture, I was floored by her ability to not only capture the dreaded post-college life, but something about this film magnetized me in a way I hadn’t experienced through screen media for many years. It was my new Clueless and I was ready to watch it over and over again until I knew every line. I loved that she utilized her family and friends as actors, and I loved her even more for this when I discovered her lo-fi web series online. She was able to create a social landscape in which vulnerability was a key ingredient and I knew this girl had to have some serious balls to display the cringe-worthy moments depicted in her work. When I heard that she had landed her own series, I was ecstatic for this new indie darling’s success, even if it was through infamous bro-movie maker Judd Apatow. Unfortunately, Lena’s work was getting major backlash before it ever premiered, and defending her already felt like a full time job.
The day after it did premiere, I was working in HBO production offices of another series and was experiencing first hand the backlash and criticism from writers and assistants alike. Everyone eye-rolled, belittled it with the easy nepotism accusation, and not one person had actually seen the pilot aside from myself. Why was everyone so ready to hate on this girl’s work? Because she’s some obscure artist’s daughter? Newsflash, everyone in Hollywood is connected somehow, whether by blood or by association, and the nepotism card doesn’t hold out for very long.
Girls got so much backlash before it had its chance to bloom that it made our instant cultural environment seem hostile toward young successful women, especially when it was coming from less accomplished women that sociologically identified with Dunham. The fact that people wanted to hate her with such intensity was a warning sign to young white educated women everywhere: no one is comfortable with your success. Regardless of how many tireless hours you put into your work, if you are a white female and privileged enough to have a college background then you are automatically undeserving. Despite the vulnerability expressed within white girl culture – a demographic consistently targeted by a notoriously body-shaming media – no one wants to acknowledge that white girls are being made to psychologically suffer or even that there is any possibility of suffering. White females are instantly shut down if they express dissatisfaction or insecurity with their lives, because they are white and privileged and need to keep their mouths shut since other people have bigger problems that are both more visible and statistically relevant.
Dunham got 3 Emmy nominations for Girls and jaws have collectively dropped around the world. How could a new girl with such little real world experience be so greatly rewarded in the impossible industry of Hollywood? Shouldn’t she be getting mandatory lessons on ethnic sensitivity instead?
The fact of the matter is Girls is important for girls. If this show had existed instead of Sex and the City when I was in high school, not only would my friends and I have a much more realistic view of sex but we wouldn’t have been blinded by the illusion of cosmopolitans, Monolo Blahniks, and how fabulous life supposedly is for women. The female characters of Sex and the City are merely drag queens as the show was written by gay men whose cheapened view of women is nothing short of a two-dimensional arrogance brought on by obsessions with luxury fashion and sickening lines such as “When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more.” For ten years women of all ages were raised to believe in the ideals of this show and its heightened popularity only confirmed that a woman is nothing more than a collection of shoes and one-night stands.
With a serious lack of alternative girl figures in the media, Girls stands out with its defiance of traditional beauty and impractical glamor. The authenticity of Hannah’s character drives home the conclusion that average looking females are allowed to be beautiful, and are just as deserving of love and male attention as the models we are constantly comparing ourselves to. We haven’t had such relief in female character design since the beloved 90’s character Daria – a cartoon version of a real girl that television wasn’t ready to allow on screen in human form. If Daria were a real person who wrote her own television show, would she have been slammed so hard for the white bread nature of her scripted environment? Did Sex and the City ever get backlash for not being ethnic enough? The internet back then was not as blog savvy as it is today and the roaring opinions we see now may have been more about aesthetic flaws than racial ignorance. The influx of social awareness is fairly new as a generation of kids now are much more inclined to question the constant crap that’s being sold to them. Ultimately, the attack on Lena Dunham is a reflection of the hypercritical state in which we find validation of ourselves and others.
Girls is inarguably familiar and even accurate in its representation of the female youth as we know it. The characters, much like twenty-something-year-olds in everyday life, are by-products of electronic culture and a failed economy that has very little room for newcomers to survive. It is a show that navigates the trial and error process many young women find themselves competing to overcome. Confronting the fact that there are white girls with problems, and not just white girl problems, may bring a major discomfort to people who are trained to ignore or belittle them. If this show ignites a conversation about race, beauty, female culture, or any other social issue, then it’s done its job. The reality is that Dunham is a creator of art and narrator of experience, and the internet is just a cesspool of people that gobble pop culture and shit on it for fun. If you find yourself complaining that a talentless white girl got nominated for a major award in television, maybe you should try to write your own series reflective of modern youth and quit being a little bitch in the meantime.