comments_image Comments

Why Dunham's Right to be Pissed About the New 'Girls' Porno

Since its HBO debut in 2012, Lena Dunham’s Girls has become a platform for cultural debate. Dunham’s often self-referential character, Hannah, is one of the most divisive leading characters that has ever been on television—some see her as unlikable and selfish, while others view her struggles with relationships, friendships, work, and self-fulfilment as widely representative of millennial life. Her trademark sex scenes are considered brave by some, unnecessarily excessive by others, and have sparked widespread dialogue about young adults’ sexuality and the impact of porn culture. After two Golden Globe wins, a renewed third season, and achieving acclaimed cultural relevance, it must have come as a shock to Lena Dunham to hear that her complicated, political, and personal comedy-drama is now being adapted to a Hustler porn parody.

In the Girlsporn parody, titled This Ain’t Girls XXX, Hannah supposedly leaves her boyfriend Adam, denouncing men and experimenting with women before eventually returning to her man. Richie Calhoun, who plays Adam in the parody, said“they didn’t have to do much” to adapt the original material to pornography due to the show’s frequent sexual themes.

Dunham first tweeted about the news of the porn parody yesterday morning, expressing her unhappiness by saying she wishes she “had a better attitude” about the situation.

A full twelve hours later, she took to Twitter again in a series of five tweets, clarifying why she is particularly disturbed over This Ain't Girls XXX,and why she feels it’s worthy of discussion.

First of all, good for Lena Dunham for returning to the subject after her initial “I’m just a crazy emotional girl with no sense of humor” response. It’s what many people are sure to tell her--- that it was bound to happen, to take it as a compliment, to laugh it off, or that the amount of sex and nudity in Girlsitself is already comparable to porn. But Dunham is right to value and validate her concerns, even if her critics will likely write them off as a “bad attitude.”

She’s also right about why she shouldn’t just “laugh off” the Girls porn parody. Girls, in many ways, holds a mirror to society and millennial culture, revealing, scrutinizing, and critiquing the complexities of modern young adult life. The cringe-worthy sex scenes and rocky relationships unpack the harmful myths about sex and sexuality created and perpetuated by pornography; Adam’s tendency to sexually degrade his partners, Hannah’s psychosis over being “13 pounds overweight,” Shoshanna’s shame over being a 21-year-old virgin, and many other elements embody the notion “the personal is political.”

If Girlsholds a critical mirror to society, This Ain’t Girls XXX is like a twisted funhouse mirror, absorbing Dunham’s personal and political subject matter and spitting it back out into the same recognizably harmful narrative that necessitated its very creation. It’s like taking an anti-war film and adapting it for the latest bloodthirsty version of the Call of Dutyvideo game.  

The good thing is that with or without a porn parody, Girlscontinues to make its statement. The even better thing is that Lena Dunham can express herself in two worlds—the world through her characters’ eyes in Girls, and in the real world, where her personal voice as an artist has come to be respected as well. For Dunham to openly discuss the political and feminist nature of her show, especially in the wake of its porn parody, shines light on the unique gravitas of her work—and why its continuing success is more important than ever.  

See more stories tagged with: