Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gratuitous Nudity on "Girls"

“Girls” is back tonight, but you probably didn’t notice that it had been gone.

Last week, the show made something like news when reporter Tim Molloy asked the producers and the stars why there was so much gratuitous nudity in the show, especially by the lead character, Lena Dunham/ Hannah Horvath. Link here.

Molloy asked this question:

I don’t get the purpose of all of the nudity on the show, by you particularly, and I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they are doing it… They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason.

Naturally, everyone took offense. Malloy was eventually denounced as a bigoted, misogynistic Philistine.

In fact, a critic has every right to ask about the construction of a show. What purpose does the nudity on Girls really serve?

Lena Dunham took it personally and attempted an answer:

It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem, and you are going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you’ve hired.

Obviously, this makes no sense. Being alive is not about walking around naked in public. It makes no difference whether she gets it herself.

I assume that  Dunham learned from her many years of therapy— in that regard she is her generation’s Woody Allen-- that she had a moral, or is it amoral duty to show that she is not ashamed of her body.

It’s an old seducer’s ploy, one that dates to well before today’s millennials learned the joy of sexting. A young man might have said to a woman: What you do you mean, you won’t take your clothes off. Are you ashamed of your body?

But, if Dunham is exhibiting herself in order to make an ideological point, the nudity is gratuitous. It detracts from the story.

And, Dunham she is so proud of her body, why is she so defensive about Molloy’s question.

One other thing she must have learned from therapy is to impugn the motives of people who criticize her. When she suggests that Molloy needs to work out his problems with a professional she is saying that she is healthy and that anyone who disagrees is sick. At that point, no debate or discussion is possible. The statement attempts to censor.

Of course, if the only way for a young woman to show definitively that she is not ashamed of her body is to walk around naked in public or to text pictures of her nakedness to those near and dear to her, I believe that Dunham and her enablers should take full responsibility for the trauma that many girls have experienced as a result of such foolish actions.

Producer Jenni Konner buttressed Dunham’s point with her own rant:

 I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy that I literally could not hear. I’m so sorry. I really don’t mean to disrespect you. I just was looking at him and going into this rage, this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea, it just makes me sort of sick, and so I apologize to everyone. I’m going to try to focus now, but if I space out, it will be because of that guy. 

Apparently, Konner believes that having powerful feelings is a sign that one is living in the absolute truth. In fact, powerful feelings are a sign of emotional incontinence.

Konner has flown into high dudgeon because a man has accused a woman of showing her body too much. Does she mean that all women should show their bodies as much as they like and that no one has a right to look askance at them for doing so? What would she say to the many women who find such behavior unacceptable and do not want their daughters being encouraged to do it? And what would she say to the girls who sext naked pictures of themselves and who are overwhelmed with shame when they discover that everyone has seen the pictures?


Anonymous said...

Dunham is offended and Konner flies into a rage because they both believe they should be able to do whatever they want. That's the foundation of their belief systems, and the only justification they need: their feelings. Emotion defines the person, and emotional experience is who they are. It's completely subjective. And the truth is they are able to do whatever they want in modern America, but we don't have to approve of their work, nor do we have to fund it. This makes no sense to them.

Yet the funny thing is that Dunham and Komner don't really believe that anyone should be able to so what they want, because they think Malloy's opinion -- that the nudity doesn't do anything to support the story -- is wrong. Dunham is offended by that, and Konner is in a rage. So there's a perceived injustice. But justice is based on a standard of fairness, and fairness is (supposedly) "objective," at least if Dunham and Konner want to persuade anyone. They want a positive reception because they believe their interpretation of the world is right. Not just subjectively true, but objectively correct. That makes them right, and Malloy wrong. They've confused their subjective interpretation for objective reality. Hence the disproportionate, fear-driven tirade.

So we're back to the relativism and nihilism of the arts and the modern artist's ridiculous emotional volcanism and insecurity about what they do and what they believe. We are all expected to approve and support whatever it is they want to do, which is an assault on the concept of value. It's crazy. That's why cultures without artistic standards are suicidal.

Until people in the arts get a grip about about the difference between subjective experience and objective reality, we will continue to deal with their irrational angst, condescension and bloated self-importance. One could say that this is just the way artists are. I disagree. It is encouraged by their very insular world and chauvinist romantic worldview of the artist as truth-bearer, setting them apart from the rest of society, which feeds more angst. It's boring, and intellectually lazy. I cannot take such people seriously.

Surprise, surprise... Dunham is a feminist.


Sam L. said...

"And what would she say to the girls who sext naked pictures of themselves and who are overwhelmed with shame when they discover that everyone has seen the pictures?" Why, "That's YOUR problem, not mine."

And why the woman who'd naked and pours chocolate over herself is outraged that anyone thinks that she shouldn't get a government grant to pay her to do that.