While some may be tired of discussing HBO’s controversial new series Girls, Jezebel columnist Dodai Stewart declares that we have to keep the conversation going. According to Stewart, dismissing the discourse surrounding the show created by writer-director Lena Dunham exacerbates the problem of separatism in American culture and promotes the misunderstanding that it is acceptable to portray a diverse city like New York through a gaze that reflects only its white inhabitants.
The biggest problem is that some people seem to think that we live in two worlds. Separate but equal. That Girls is fine the way it is because Tyler Perry movies and shows exist. This argument comes up when we point out the way black people are treated on the cover of Vanity Fair and in the comments on Elspeth Reeve’s Atlantic Wire piece about Girls. One (barely literate) commenter laments,
“So now, in order to be pc we can not tell any stories about thin white girls?! They do excist and would like their stories told also. Nobody ever criticises a perry tyler movie for not having white people represented. Focus on the storie being told instead of this absured color focus all the time … “
Tyler Perry is one man, a droplet of water in an ocean of filmmakers, who are predominantly white. I am a black woman, but I find more in common with characters in “Seinfeld” than I do with the ones in “House of Payne.” My world is neither all black nor all white, but a mix — whether it be race, gender, socio-economics, weight or age. And for those who say, well, create your own show, then: If it were only that easy! Being black puts you at a huge disadvantage in the industry. Like Lena Dunham, excellent writer/director Dee Rees made a movie about a young girl in New York. Unlike Dunham, Rees didn’t get a show on HBO — could it be because the main character in her movie, instead of being upper class and white, was middle class, gay, and black? Even Denzel Washington has said, “It’s almost impossible to get $100 million to make a movie about a black family in New York City.” Black people get the message, time after time, that no one cares about us, and Girls just joins the throngs of the indifferent.
Read more of Dodai Stewart’s column at Jezebel.