Category Archives: Pop Culture Criticism

The True(r) Truth About ‘Girls’ and Race

I am a white, straight man who self-identifies as a lefty of sorts so take your cultural commentary from me at your own risk.  That said, here’s a quick thought about the whole Girls peccadillo (and some exposition as to why I see it as a minor phenomenon).

First I read that Girls might be bad for girlsthat it may have a debasing effect, and that the show may illustrate widespread feminine anxieties over the newfound responsibilities endemic to feminist liberation.  Now there’s an internet-meme-explosion over the show’s all-white cast (and a few problematic sarcastic responses from one of the show’s writers).  I say, so what?

So what, not because I’m upset over proclamations of the End of Men, because women have recently overtaken men as active participants in the American workforce, and, on average, they tend to dominate in academia, too.  While these trends are ugly for men — and I happen to be one — they certainly are just.  I’m just hopeful that, as the gender hegemony rightly dissipates and equity emerges, things don’t go so far that the sins of fathers are visited upon the sons of our future (but that’s another post altogether and an unfortunate symptom of all progressive group politics — there’s never an end to corrective measures, movements, or progress, it seems).

I say “so what” because what’s really happening here is people are getting up-in-arms over the cultural gravity of a television show.  A few words of advice: don’t allow your understanding of life, the universe, and everything to be informed by television.  Ever.

The entire thing — TV — is intentionally developed to produce profit and induce predictable consumer behavior.  The best possible outcome for advertisers is a monoculture and, because 72ish% of people self-identify as white in America, that’s the cultural identifier television shows are going to cater to in an effort to draw advertisers.

So much of the caterwauling over this incident has come from the fact that women seem to view the show as a program with promise — one that they relate to somehow — but they just wish that they related through the lens of diversity.  Another suggestion:  Capitalism is a system built upon temptation — if you find yourself tempted to support any product that negates your values, you’ll have to make a choice.  Either compromise your values or boycott the product — in this case, flip the channel.

It seems sophomoric to reverse roles here and cry out that those who made the art that offended made the wrong choice — they’re within their rights to portray whatever world they choose to, however they choose.  That’s how art works.  Sure, you’re free to offer commentary but the outrage is just a little overstated.  To top it all off, the complaint itself is just a little too oversimplistic, too.  No one seems the least bit upset that the characters are all from affluent families — where’s the class outrage?

And f*(# you all for getting me so riled up that I used the term “art” to describe television.

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