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Why I don’t like the idea of a Girls porn parody

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Girls is one of my favourite shows. A few weeks ago I watched the entirety of season two in one day: it involved my bed, my laptop, pyjamas and more junk food than I’d like to admit.

So, I have an unashamed love for Lena Dunham and her show. I know lots of people don’t. That’s not what this is about. This is about Hustler’s upcoming parody of the show, This Ain’t Girls XXX. I haven’t read much about it, to be honest—it’s Hustler and it’s a porno, you don’t really need to stretch your imagination to figure out what will happen.

Lena Dunham voiced her disappointment about the parody on Twitter, saying:

@lenadunham: Okay, I wracked my brain to articulate why I can’t just laugh off a porn parody of Girls and here are 3 reasons:

@lenadunham: 1. Because Girls is, at its core, a feminist action while Hustler is a company that markets and monetizes a male’s idea of female sexuality

@lenadunham: 2. Because a big reason I engage in (simulated) onscreen sex is to counteract a skewed idea of that act created by the proliferation of porn

@lenadunham: 3. Because it grosses me out.

In terms of feminism, porn always seems to be a divisive issue, and I am never too sure where I stand on the “porn wars”. As a general rule, I am 100% for women choosing careers as adult film stars and sex workers (choosing being the operative word there). However, I have many issues with the pornography industry as a whole and how it encourages the subordination of women’s agency and generally reduces them to mere sex objects.*

This upcoming film, however, I feel quite strongly about. My problem with the parody relates to Lena Dunham’s first two reasons.

Girls is the only television show I’ve ever seen that doesn’t prescribe to the unwritten rules about sexuality that prevail in Western media. If you’ve seen the show, you will know what I mean: there are women who aren’t always super skinny or big-breasted, and you see them naked. Just like real life. Lena Dunham got it exactly right when she says she wants to ‘counteract a skewed idea of [sex]’. She has taken the media’s ideas about what women are supposed to be like, and completely subverted it. It’s refreshing to see diverse bodies reflected on the TV screen, rather than a perfectly toned version that few people have.

Same goes with the sex. What you see in Girls is completely different to what you would expect to see on television, and the show deals with sex in a very confronting way. There is Hannah and Adam’s kinkiness, Shoshanna and Ray’s awkwardness and Marnie’s memorable masturbation scene. And let’s not forget the icky sex between Adam and Natalia at the end of season two, which was fraught with issues about consent. These are the kinds of scenes that you don’t usually see played out in mainstream media, and Girls has done an excellent job of recreating the sometimes awkward, sometimes gross and sometimes troubling parts of sexual relationships that occur in real life.

By turning it into a parody, Hustler are completely disregarding what the show stands for. Girls has been a huge step forward for feminism in mainstream media, and the no-holds-barred attitude of the show and its characters is part of the reason for its widespread popularity. Many porn films show a very distorted sense of sexuality, whereas Girls shows an authentic one. This realness will disappear when conventionally attractive porn stars and perfectly executed sex scenes enter the picture. Whether you think Girls is a ‘feminist action’ or not, the parody feels like a massive step backwards in terms of what the show is trying to achieve.

*Most mainstream porn, anyway. This isn’t about feminist porn, which I think is an awesome thing.

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2 thoughts on “Why I don’t like the idea of a Girls porn parody

  1. The implication seems to be that a porn parody should support or compliment whatever its parent show show is trying “to achieve” – but why *should* a porn parody treat its source material fairly?
    I would have thought that the point of a porn parody is to combine elements of cliche porn with an original story’s themes and plot to create absurdist comedy.

    Therefore, criticising a porn parody largely on the basis that it’s not faithful to its source material would seem to be missing the point.

  2. All art can be parodied of course; nothing you can do to stop that short of attempting to outlaw parodies (which would be stupid). And the parody can sometimes be much greater than the thing being parodied.

    That being said, a porn parody of Girls does seem at best opportunistic, and at worse, sleazy and pointless.

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