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.
not_emily 6th-May-2012 03:39 am (UTC)

late comment is really late but I KNOW BRIAN. I'm having a fb debate with him now about privilege! He was complaining about some woman making assumptions about him while debating with him about the show "Girls". I know nothing of this show out side of _P, I came back to this post to read up on it and I SEE THIS.

the world is so small.
recorded 6th-May-2012 04:16 am (UTC)
He was complaining about some woman making assumptions about him


Unfortunately, I didn't have the energy to debate with them because I knew there would be no getting through to either of them. Jim found me on OKC last year and coincidentally was buddies with my douchey manipulative ex, so I just gave him some dating advice & we became fb friends. I don't even know Brian, but I knew that Jim wouldn't be budging considering he's an asshole all around. He seriously told me he wasn't attracted to his girlfriend and was only going to date her until he got thinner/better looking and then he'd dump her.

IDK about brian but Jim & Matt (Jaku) hung around a hackerspace together.
I did unfriend Jim, so I was wondering what kind of shenanigans happened after I abandoned ship. Did his buddies ~swarm~ to comfort him after the assault on his ~glorious~ and ~~flaw-free~~ person?

PS, do you want to be fb friends?

Edited at 2012-05-06 04:20 am (UTC)
not_emily 6th-May-2012 05:05 am (UTC)
Seeing the initial debate just sucked all the fight out of me. It's never going to get through Brian's head. I've had some success in the past with him, in at least making him see another viewpoint, but this just isn't going anywhere. He's just so mind-bogglingly wrapped in privilege. I don't know if you saw his whole tl;dr response (2 1/2 pages long in a Word doc) to your last comment, but holy crap. You're apparently a bad person for looking down on him and adding a token character is racist and so forth.

Jim sounds like a real charm. He did have one or two people come to his rescue so to speak, but Brian stole the damn show. It's so bizarre, I've known Brian for seven years and suddenly he's vomiting privilege all over the place.

And yep! I shall add you! I need more mean womenz on my friends list.
recorded 6th-May-2012 06:00 am (UTC)
I noticed Brian was very ~try hard~ about the entire topic so I knew he'd babble on trying to justify himself about it forever even though I wasn't there to talk to him. I'm not surprised he wrote 2 1/2 pages, loooooool.

I've encountered the same problem a lot recently. How do these people cloak their ignorance for so long? Must be something in the water making them crawl out of the woodwork.

Oh god, I'm skimming the discussion on Brian's page rn (it's public). This is so painful to read. Many points awarded to you for even having the patience to respond to this.
recorded 6th-May-2012 06:14 am (UTC)
my white guilt plagues me ~every dayyy!!~ my lyf is so harrrd

wtf is this shit
not_emily 6th-May-2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
omg lol @ that apt gif.

i keep going back. why do i keep going back. why doesn't he get it asdhjkalljhdwyrhsjk.

He's now posting "proof" on his main page about sexism and racism against white men. ahhhhh.
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