Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Hurts My Heart: TV Show "Girls"...Gay Guy Smacking the Woman Upside Her Head

I'm going to start a regular feature on the blog titled, "This Hurts My Heart." Sometimes it will be parody, other times it will be real. In this post, I guess it's a combination of both.

First, I'd like to state that I'm against any form of violence across the board. I find all violence deplorable.

With that said, there's a new TV show out called, "Girls." It's an HBO original series and I would consider it a current version of "Sex in the City," with new adult characters. There were a lot of things about SITC I didn't like, especially the way gay men were treated like pet poodles. I can't say this about "Girls." I like most of what I see...but they still can't seem to get it right with the gay guys.

The show airs on Sunday night. I DVR and watch during the week. So I finally found time late last night to catch the most recent episode. The plot of this particular episode revolved around the three girlfriends going to a party in Brooklyn (I'm not invested enough yet to know their names). At one point, one of the girls runs into a guy she knows and they wind up outside on some kind of a bridge or crosswalk between two buildings. At the end of their conversation, the girl picks up an empty bottle and tosses it over the rail.

Of course the girl thinks they are alone. But the bottle lands on a group of rough guys from Brooklyn who are standing below the crosswalk. This is the interesting part. The nice straight guy who is up on the crosswalk with the girl who dropped the bottle apologizes and tries to be nice about it. But the girl offers no apology whatsoever. In fact, she's insulting, she's obnoxious, and she basically laughs in their faces. Which only pisses the rough guys from Brooklyn off even more.

A few scenes later, the rough guys from Brooklyn catch up with the nice straight guy and snarky girl who were up on the crosswalk, at the party. This is even more interesting. Instead of doing or saying anything to the girl who caused all the trouble, the rough guys from Brooklyn go after the straight guy she was with...the same guy who apologized to them. He gets the shit kicked out of him, while she stands there watching and she caused all the trouble.

I'll leave it at that, without comment.

Moving on to another scene that happens later, I see another one of the "girls" having a conversation with a gay guy she went to college with. She runs into him at the party and starts to unload a pile of emotional garbage on him and he's not interested in listening to her. When he tells her this, she attacks him with some very offensive comments. One comment the girl makes is so offensive the gay guy looses control. He lifts his arm, smacks her upside the head, and does it without a hint of remorse. I haven't seen anything like THIS since "Dynasty."

Aside from the fact that I'm against violence, I found it interesting that the straight rough guys from Brooklyn would never hit a woman...not even if she deserved at least a good kick in the ass for dropping a bottle on their heads and laughing at them. And yet somehow it's okay for the gay guy to smack a woman in the face for making a nasty comment about the way he speaks. There's something wrong with this picture on more than one level.

In one respect, I do think the writers of the show broke the double standard when it comes to violence in a general sense, and I think that's what they were trying to do. I'm thinking they were making a social comment in general. It's okay to hit a straight man, nothing wrong with that, even if he didn't do anything. But don't dare let a straight man hit a woman, even if she's wrong. Of course all violence is wrong, but you get the picture.

In another respect, they got it all wrong with the gay guy by using him as an example. They diminished gay men in a very clever way that most people might not notice. By allowing him to smack the woman in the face they made him less masculine than the rough guys from Brooklyn and promoted the age old stereotype that the gay man is one of the girls. But more than that, they turned the gay guy into a bad stereotype of a woman, which made it twice as offensive to both women and gay men.

Oh, it's entertaining. Let that prissy gay guy smack the dumb bitch. People will love it and we'll get higher ratings. But this sort of thing diminishes women, gay men, and makes straight men look like cave men. I do know...and understand...that on certain levels things like this can and do happen in real life. There are gay men who would smack women and it wouldn't be considered abusive in the same way it would if a straight man smacked a woman. But that doesn't really make it any less offensive (or abusive) to the gay men who wouldn't do something like anyone.

The basic moral of this post is that all violence is wrong. But the gist of the post is that it's just as wrong to turn gay men into bad stereotypes in order to make a point, and I'm getting tired of it. That scene where the gay guy smacked the woman in the face could have been written differently and they still could have made their point without insulting both gay men and women. Or for that matter, the previous scene with the straight rough guys from Brooklyn could have been handled much better. Instead of kicking the shit out of the straight guy who did nothing to deserve it, they could have poured a couple of bottles of beer over the straight girl's head and it would have been even funnier, and without physical violence. And all the straight guys watching the show would have enjoyed that scene a lot more than what actually did happen.


Aria David said...

I actually read an article quite recently where the writer/star of 'Girls' was describing the motivation and inspiration behind the plot. Yes, it is about a line up of young women living in New York but it was actually written to be deliberately contradictive to 'Sex and the City'. As 'SATC' was meant to be a successor to the works of such camp/cult iconic works of Helen Gurley Brown and Jacqueline Susann, the writer found these to be dated and overly idealistic extravagant perceptions of life in for people starting out in New York. The show girls was meant to present a more realistic and pragmatic view of modern life for women.

Which all this in mind it is interesting the details of the violence that you mentioned above. I have caught a few episodes of 'Girls' but like yourself I'm not entirely invested in it. Though I did see the episode where the gay friend from college first appears in the bar scene where there is a medically incorrect argument over HPV transmission, which pissed me off so much I actually wanted to write in to the writers on how they just grossly misinformed the nation on something that is almost a pandemic. But anyway, that aside while I did find the gay characters cattiness to be amusing it did nonetheless leave bad taste in my mouth, no pun intended.
But if 'SATC' is guilty of treating gay men as pets, 'Girls' I feel isn't all that better. We hear too often in shows like 'Girls' that center on the lives of women lines like "Oh who cares he's gay..." thus gay men or sort of transmogrified not exactly one of the girls but certainly not one of the guys either. Gay men become more or less a step above a child and become a cross between or sort of an unruly teenager and a cranky (bitchy) elderly person, where outbursts and in this case violence are rendered virtually inconsequential. Its sort of a strange sort of paradoxical homophobia within tolerance. And whats even more interesting about it is, its practiced by the main tenant of the heterosexual community who are supposed to be are greatest ally: heterosexual women.

On the other side of this argument though we have to ask ourselves how much credit should we give this show or even 'SATC' for its claims of realism. We have seen reality shows like 'the A List: New York' which has shown that yes indeed violence does exist between gay men and straight women but then again we've also seen shows like "Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys" where straight women and gay men not only demonstrate healthy friendships but shows that women acknowledge gay men as equals.
In short though while violence is deplorable, it is something that comes with the territory of human nature.

Lastely, if 'Girls' was a realistic show that couple who met up with the rough boys from Brooklyn (which is amusing because Brooklyn is gentrified now) they'd have have been raped and murdered.

ryan field said...

Thanks for adding this. I saw the show about HPV and didn't know it wasn't accurate. Interesting. I'm going to look that up.