ONTD Political

'Girls' Writer Responds to Critique of 'Girls' with Horrible Joke

10:14 am - 04/19/2012
'Girls' Writer Responds to Critique of 'Girls' with Horrible Joke

All writers know how tough it can be when your work is criticized and sometimes it's hard not to respond with a mean joke at the critic's expense. But even when succumbing to the temptation of a one-liner, most of us manage sounding like a racist. Not Girls writer Lesley Arfin, who responded to complaints that there were no black characters, save for a single homeless guy, in the first episode of the HBO show, by tweeting, "What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."

Do you get it? See, Girls, set in New York City, is about four rich thin white girls. Precious, also set in New York City, is about one poor fat black girl who is sexually abused by her father and lives in the projects. It's a "funny" "joke" because Arfin thinks she would never actually interact with a person like Precious. The idea of an Arfin character in Precious -- hilarious! It appears Arfin was responding to criticism like that of New York Times technology reporter Jenna Wortham who wrote a critique of the show for The Hairpin on Monday morning, concluding, "I just wish I saw a little more of myself on screen, right alongside them." (Arfin's tweet went out on Monday evening.) Worth explains her problem with the show:

My chief beef is not simply that the girls in Girls are white... But the problem with Girls is that while the show reaches — and succeeds, in many ways — to show female characters that are not caricatures, it feels alienating, a party of four engineered to appeal to a very specific subset of the television viewing audience, when the show has the potential to be so much bigger than that. And that is a huge fucking disappointment.

The argument has been made that smart women on screen are already enough of a minority to make up for the lack of women of color. Nope. Not good enough.

Before Arfin was hired by Lena Dunham to write for the show, she was a fixture on New York's cool kid blogging scene, collaborating with various elements of the Vice empire. Her 2007 book Dear Diary was published by Vice Books and MTV Press. (with the an intro by Chloe Sevigny) and she edited the Williamsburg-based Missbeehave magazine.

At exiled Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes's Street Carnage (where Arfin once wrote the Ask Barf advice column) Benjamin Leo thinks her analysis is dead-on. Responding to Toure's (complimentary!) tweet asking where the black folks were on the show, Leo writes, "Suck my dick too, you fuckin one-track-minded McCarthyist hijackers." McCarthyist! You know, after Joe McCarthy, famed red-baiter. Noting Arfin's Precious tweet, he says:


UGGGGG, but now watch as the writers are forced to acquiesce and add some phony token Black Rhodes Scholar to appease these morons. Guys, you’ve kept it SO real—please don’t suck their balls. It’s 2012 and Obama’s in the White House: the McCarthyism 2.0 witch-hunting mob has been disarmed! They have no power over you! TELLYOUR STORY."

McInnes has his own ideas about race that crafted get people to notice him, as in his August 2011 essay for Taki's Magazine titled something I'd rather not retype. That's the same magazine that published John Derbyshire's racist essay that got him fired from the National Review last week. Derbyshire wrote about the necessity of getting a smart black friend just in case someone calls you racist. Leo dresses it up in a different style, but his advice is the same.


*crosses 'Girls' off list of shows to look into*

Edit: Arfin deleted the Precious tweet, and later tweeted this:

Without thinking, I put gender politics above race and class. That was careless. The last thing I want is girls vs girls.
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suzycat 19th-Apr-2012 03:25 am (UTC)
I can't believe that is the tweet of an adult. You know, I would forgive it, but not let it slide, if she was an arrogant brainy memememe 17 year old with no real life experience going "nobody understands myyyy marginalisation", but she should know better than that.
tiddlywinks103 19th-Apr-2012 04:58 am (UTC)
Homegirl is apparently 31. That is BAD.
britneyspears 19th-Apr-2012 03:26 am (UTC)

and here i was wasting time defending this privileged ass show. now i can save my breath tyvm.
kalikahuntress 19th-Apr-2012 03:27 am (UTC)
This show needs to get cancelled.
rex_dart 19th-Apr-2012 03:27 am (UTC)
oi fucking c

i've never heard of this show but i just read the wiki and it sounds fucking terrible in every regard.
beuk 19th-Apr-2012 03:38 am (UTC)
this has kind of made me curious to read the wiki myself.
roseofjuly 19th-Apr-2012 03:34 am (UTC)

phony token Black Rhodes Scholar to appease these morons

Because Black Rhodes Scholars are phony.

t’s 2012 and Obama’s in the White House: the McCarthyism 2.0 witch-hunting mob has been disarmed! They have no power over you

Hold the phone, a single middle-class black guy happened to get elected to the highest position in the land! Never mind that he's attacked by racist bigots day in and day out for the most trivial of things, RACISM IS OVER GUYS. That the President is Black obviously means that the fact that a show set in one of the most diverse cities in the world (and a minority-majority city, I might add) has no people of color is irrelevant.
yeats 19th-Apr-2012 03:39 am (UTC)
i have never cried at the comments on a fucking blog post before. thanks a lot, taki mag. you've made history.
musikologie 19th-Apr-2012 03:53 am (UTC)
I made it to the second comment, and then ragequit the tab.
13chapters 19th-Apr-2012 03:51 am (UTC)
My new BFF Jasika Nicole* has been on a fucking roll with blogging about this show on el tumblr. I had never heard of it but she is reaalllllly angry about it and has said so many good things.

*She's my new BFF because I reblogged something she posted with a question, and she PMED ME THE ANSWER. And then I responded to thank her AND SHE RESPONDED AGAIN. therefore she is my new BFF stars in my eyesssss. *___*
homasse 19th-Apr-2012 04:10 am (UTC)
I read one of the comments where someone was walking about how he could see the all-white bubble happening, and that blew my brain - my friendships have always been really diverse groups. I can't imagine being that isolated.
mdemvizi 19th-Apr-2012 03:53 am (UTC)
Not to be that person but I will say that this show is actually kind of good. I completely understand all of the problems with it (and Tumblr lets me know of the ones I miss too). I've only seen one episode but next week's episode is conquering abortion so who knows.

Ugh idiots on twitter are idiots always.
etherealtsuki 19th-Apr-2012 04:03 am (UTC)
Side eyeing you right now. This isn't the place to say how good the show is when its writer is being a racist shit.

alierakieron 19th-Apr-2012 04:00 am (UTC)
She apparently also likes to make jokes comparing the president to poop. I know nothing about the show but now I don't' WANT to. *rage face*
homasse 19th-Apr-2012 04:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, I read that - the big "joke" being poop is brown and Obama is also brown, so FUNNY~.

aberforthsgoat 19th-Apr-2012 04:27 am (UTC)
All her gross race/gender politics aside, I don't know how any feeling person who watched Precious could use that film to try to score points on twitter. Way to expose your ugly little heart, lady.
tiddlywinks103 19th-Apr-2012 04:57 am (UTC)

And her excuse tweet(And not even remotely an apology) was not good enough. No intersectionality, eh, you dumbshit? Only White women can care about gender politics? You made this girls vs. girls by being an obtuse, privileged asshole. Congrats.
illusivevenstar 19th-Apr-2012 05:03 am (UTC)
I see white feminism is still as clueless as ever.
apis_cerana 19th-Apr-2012 05:34 am (UTC)
Without thinking, I put gender politics above race and class. That was careless. The last thing I want is girls vs girls.

Lol ok here, have a cookie :D

Fuck off.
terribilita 19th-Apr-2012 05:34 am (UTC)
Arfin also praised Leo's disgusting article on twitter, but she deleted it, of course.

But! She still lists it as a favorite tweet.

terribilita Re: 19th-Apr-2012 05:39 am (UTC)
Oh, and this tumblr post details more of her fuckery.

in the span of a month, she:

- Compared Obama to poop. Literally. Like the joke was OBAMA IS BROWN, JUST LIKE POOP.

- used everyone’s favorite transphobic slur. twice.

- called me both “gay” and a “fag” because I told her to shut up

- called many others gay and a fag

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