Double posting, because this is clearly going to be how the thread rolls.
Todd, from the av onion just posted a fantastic comment in the discussion section that followed his review for the most recent episode
, which really, I feel, addresses a lot of the issues that have been floating around in regards to the commentary on the show. You know, the weird anger that a lot of people are directing towards it that's been driving a lot of people away from a really fascinating, if at time off-putting, show that's really fucking funny, moving, and often emotionally true to life.
So, comment (which is in reply to a post that argued that Girls wasn't a good show partially because Lena Dunham, writer and lead actress, wasn't particularly attractive in the poster's eyes.)
I've been trying to think of a way to respond to this comment, and I just can't. Everything I want to say just would sound too angry, and I'm not angry. I'm... defeated.
I know you think you're making a joke. I know you think what you're saying is funny, and I know you think that the people who are on your level will laugh, and the rest of us will roll our eyes, and nothing will happen. And nothing WILL happen, because this is The A.V. Club, and what makes our comments great is that we have a very, very, very, very open door policy when it comes to what people can say here. We let people make off-topic jokes. We let them complain about how the Game Of Thrones reviews took a while in the Girls comments. We let them pursue their own creative endeavors and whatnot. You won't be punished or banned or anything of the sort. You shouldn't be. I'm a staff member here, and I agree completely with your right to imply Girls is bad because Lena Dunham isn't hot enough. (I know you think you're saying she's not funny enough; you're not, because you'd never say Louie isn't good because Louis C.K. isn't conventionally attractive.)
But your comment still really gets under my skin in a way I'm fairly sure you didn't intend it. And I'm sure if I said that, you'd say, "Whatever. It's just a joke." Maybe it's because I just got done watching a pretty amazing Mad Men episode about how no matter how good a woman is at what she does, some men will always perceive her as an object. Maybe it's because I've known a million amazing women who were far more Lena Dunham-esque than Allison Williams-esque. Maybe it's because, when you come right down to it, Lena Dunham is a very good looking woman. Maybe it's because I assume you're a young-ish kid, 18 or 19 or 20, and I know that if you shut yourself off from women who don't look TV-perfect, you're going to be missing out on amazing friends and girlfriends, people who could enrich your life. Maybe it's because what you said is what an asshole would say, and I don't like assholes. Maybe it's because this website's comments section is full of women—and more and more every day—and too many of you want to treat it like it's some old boys' club, where everybody can walk around and make sexist cracks and all the women are just supposed to take it (and you can say whatever you want, but what you said was fucking sexist and disgusting).
But no: Here's what it is. Every week, I like this show, and I tell you why. Every week, a bunch of commenters like this show and tell you why (or tell me why on Twitter, since so many of them have abandoned this thread to the gibbering assholes). And you don't have to like what we like. That's your prerogative as a human being. I've even found some of your criticisms persuasive in the past, or, at the least, seen why some of you don't like the show as much as I do from what you say. That's good. That's healthy. That's dialogue. When you guys say, "Hey, this show has spent too much time fleshing out Hannah and not enough time on the other characters" or "Hey, these people are all so unlikable that I'm not sure I can ever be interested in watching their adventures," that's cool. I don't agree, but I get it. We can have a conversation on that.
But a lot of you—including you, Drew (can I call you Drew?)—don't even bother with that. You reject the most basic premise of our critical dialogue, which is that a work of art is worth considering and discussing, especially when evident effort has been put into that work of art by someone who wants to express some piece of themselves. Please note this doesn't mean you have to like it. I really don't like, say, Whitney, but I'm aware that the people behind it have tried to do something expressive of what they want (within the confines of the network TV sitcom). We owe the art respect. More important than that, we owe the people who make it respect. That doesn't mean we automatically praise it because somebody made a good effort. It means that when we criticize it, we criticize it like we would want our own stuff to be criticized, even when we think it sucks. Everybody goes in for snark because it's easy. I know I have more than a few times. But when you just snark, you absolutely shut out whatever's going on onscreen. You're not open to it. And that's no way to approach anything. It's cynical and lazy. I think it's self-evident from this that Dunham and her collaborators are putting a lot of thought and time into this show to make it something that I and a lot of your fellow commenters and a lot of my fellow critics think is pretty special. You're dismissing it as if it were a crayon drawing by a particularly irritating 5-year-old. At least engage the work.
I don't know what it is about this show that makes people make snide, misogynistic attacks against it. I don't know what it is about this show that makes people unwilling to extend it even the most basic of critical charities, like accepting its central premises or letting go of, like, the fact that it didn't depict East Lansing, Michigan, exactly as it exists in real life. Every week, people come in here and harp and harp and harp on minor, minor, minor points and act like they're delivering the Sermon on the Mount. Again, you don't have to like this show. But Jesus Christ, if you can't see past your own anger toward it or hatred of it, why do you keep watching? To make fun of it? Do you really think that's worth it?
Most of all, though, it just bugs me that you—and yes, I'm sorry to single you out, because there are a ton of people in this very article who are being dicks and acting like it's the height of hilarity, when if you're going to be a dick, you'd better be really, really fucking funny—were just an asshole and didn't seem to care and (even worse) got 12 automatic "likes" for being an asshole who makes the world a worse place to live, just a little bit. Here's the thing: I don't know you, but I know you don't have to be an asshole. You don't have to say that thing. You don't have to start this whole conversation. You don't have to make the women in our midst feel unwelcome if they don't look like Allison Williams. You don't have to make me feel disgusted to write for a website that people like you comment on. You don't have to make the world a worse place. You don't have to make that joke. It's not worth it. You can be a bigger man. You can be a better person. And you're just not.
And that pisses me off.
This post has been powered by avenging fury and a balanced diet.