All creators come under fire for taking the smoky wispy ideas of their brain from concept to execution. I love creators and support them when their work maintains their integrity and clear vision and I am delighted to see what they are showing me, in the way a five year old drags a nanny with the words “Come, look what I made.” I am a willing and curious viewer and I follow writing and stories, show me your interpretation of your world.
As a willing viewer I took a gander at Season 1 of Lena Dunham’s creation of Season 1 of Girls on HBO and honestly was fine with the lack of minorities on the show. I respect the writing, and cringeworthy, brutal honesty that Dunham exhibits with showing her body and as she puts it, displaying the ugliest parts of herself onscreen. I received the message.
Honestly, I do not see the parallels it has to the other famous mostly white world of Sex and the City which could sometimes tap into universally female emotions and thoughts, making it relatable. Dunham’s work stands alone to me as showing a narrow segment of a culture, in a way most people view National Geographic magazines, having to very much dig deep to find something relatable.
Dunham came under fire for displaying such a white world in Season 1 and even more fire for alleged comments she made. Honestly, in this day and age with everyone’s life so exposed and mined, offhand comments are as uninteresting as adulteries, coming out of the closet and affairs, most of us are bored with sensational stories of who said what, who did what and who did who. We are just interested in seeing the world you created.
I read and promptly ignored criticism and followed Dunham back into her world for Season 2 and my mental half smile faded from my brain. I was offended.
Are you trying to please Black people, or trying to make White people feel better?
Similar thoughts arose in me on other occasions such as when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won Oscars for movies that were not their best work and when the movie The Help garnered such critical acclaim.
If Dunham is depicting the world as she sees it, or as the character Hanna sees it, then how, all of a sudden did her world become filled with Black people. Is it that they were invisible to her before and now she was seeing them for the first time? If so, then the narrative should reflect character growth in this way, to explain why Hanna’s character suddenly started to interact with Black people, and not only her, but all her friends as well were having entire conversations with Black people - albeit silent Black people with no speaking lines. Also, if Hanna’s character eyes had suddenly opened up to Black people, shouldn’t she be seeing other minorities such as Asians and Indians as well and moreso ambiguously mixed race people? We as viewers are willing sheep but we’re not dumb. Our brains detect this glaring inconsistency.
In Season 2 Episode 1, it was like there was a quota, or lets try to crunch in at least 1 Black person in this shot, let them be really Black like the Black people in McDonalds commercials. And let us make sure the camera lingers on them although they are in no way integral to this story. Cast for natural hair, thick lips, bad lace front weaves and whatever else makes then inarguably Black. And Hanna now has a Black lover with no backstory, just shows up in 2 or 3 sex laced scenes. Huh?
This style, method or whatever you want to call what might be going on in Girls camp is ruining what I came here for. I was following Dunham’s writing and stories. My experience is now cheapened by all these distractions, these “elephants in the room”, I started to notice and focus on the tokenism and the sloppy way in which it was done. We are here for the story, give us the story and stop all this other crap.
Black people who want to see more of themselves represented on network and cable shows, turn to Youtube for ideas and for projects to support. Alot of us are hampered, in taking our projects from concepts to execution by not knowing where to go, who to talk to, lack of mentoring and lack of funding. To view these seeds of creativity, start by typing in Awkward Black Girl, and then follow the trail of breadcrumbs on Youtube’s sidebar to view more creativity and self reflective shows. Many of these projects need support and are fueled by Kickstarter and Indiegogo funding. Youtube is where I received my awakening in the past 6 months. Hopefully in the next couple years we can see more story-driven shows on television such as Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.
I applaud Dunham for her writing and for scoring a deal with HBO for being so young. Hopefully she finds her way back to being completely true to her vision.