Why There Could Never Be A Black “Girls”

While visiting a friend a few weeks ago, I happened to come over when she was right in the middle of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back “Girls” marathon. Assuming I wouldn’t be interested in it, she offered to put something else on. But, since I was genuinely curious to see if the big fuss about this show was warranted (and since it’s probably a good idea to actually watch something if you’ve written articles about it), I sat on the couch and watched it with her, an act that made three separate thoughts form in my head

1. I used to attempt to justify my interest in shows like “Basketball Wives” by using the “I just watch it with my girl” excuse.

I don’t think anyone actually bought it, but it’s just one of those bullshit phrases like “You know, I don’t usually swallow on the first date” that people just feel the need to say to make themselves feel better.

Since I’m no longer in a relationship, I have to change my perfunctory excuse. Not set on one yet, but “I write about this stuff for a living, so watching it is just me doing homework” seems like it could be a winner.

2. “Girls” is…good

Without giving any spoilers, it took maybe 20 minutes of watching for me to understand what the fuss was about. I don’t think I’ve seen another show capture that Kafkaesque feeling of “what the f*ck is going with my life”-ness that hits many of us in our early 20s. And, I definitely know that I’ve never seen a show be as frank (and funny) about the weirdness of some of our sexual relationships and the ambivalent motivations leading us to make some of the decisions we make.

It’s not a great show — I won’t be comparing “Girls” to season four of “The Wire” or even season two of “Louie” any time soon — but it is very good.

3. There is no way in hell that a Black version of “Girls” could or would get made today

During the “Girls” marathon,  I saw each of the following happen in a 50 minute span (I’ll try not to spoil the show too much)

—A naked male character masturbated while one of the female characters watched. During this masturbation session, the dialogue between the two got progressively weirder and more vulgar.

—The middle-aged parents of one of the characters had one of the most realistically intense sex scenes I’ve ever seen on cable tv.

—While sleeping with a guy she’d just gone on a first (and only) date with, one of the characters repeatedly tried to up the ante by engaging in completely (and hilariously) awkward dirty talk and followed that by offering to put her finger in the man’s anus (he declined)

These are just three of the dozens of times sex is shown, discussed, alluded to, made light of, seen, and overheard on “Girls.” Don’t get me wrong. The show isn’t just about sex, but it would be near impossible to have a (somewhat) realistic depiction of contemporary young people — even the ones not having sex — without sex just, well, being there.

None of this could happen with a Black show. Sure, young Black people find themselves in the same type of situations, but if Black people were shown having the same type of sex (and having the same type of sex-related discussions) the characters on “Girls” regularly do, it goes from being thought of as “real” and “gritty” and “truly naked” to “nasty” and “pornographic.”

We — and “we” in this case is “Americans” — have a strange relationship with Black sex and sexuality, too strange for me to even begin to expound on today. Interestingly enough, this is true for both White and Black America. As much as we complain about the lack of real Black shows on TV, we’d be just as weirded out by real Black sex. Can you imagine how many petitions would be made if a popular Black show had a Black female character asking to put her finger in a Black male character’s butt during sex?

And, even if a Black “Girls” made it past the FCC whichever organization governs cable censorship — it wouldn’t, but let’s just say it would — it wouldn’t survive the gauntlet of Black outrage that would soon follow. Seriously, if Debra Lee created this show, the Black community would hire Keyser Soze to firebomb her house, bankrupt her family’s businesses, poison her pets, and break the heels off of each of her Louboutins.

But, you know what? Let’s say that a hypothetical Black “Girls” — complete with the same type of humor and explicitly adult themes — made it past the FCC, and survived the gauntlet of Black outrage. It still wouldn’t stay on the air.

Why? Well, if this Black “Girls” is a mirror of the White “Girls,” the main character would be an average looking woman. Not “Hollywood average,” but average average. Aggressively average. “Looks exactly like the woman handing out chicken sausage at Trader Joe’s” average.

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being average looking. Average has a low standard deviation as most people —myself included — fall somewhere within the mean. But, while there are a ton of average-looking working White actresses, I challenge you to name ONE relevant Black actress under 40 who’d be considered average. Not Hollywood average, but “she looks like this chick who works at the DMV” average.

My point? As talented as (“Girls” creator and star) Lena Dunham is, there’s no way in hell her Black equivalent would be able to be the lead character on a show. Not just an HBO show, either. Any show and any movie. A Black actress basically has to be (at least) a “7″ — a real life “7,” not a Hollywood “7″ — to even get 30 seconds on screen,¹ and even the 7′s get relentlessly picked apart by us.

Unless your teeth are perfectly straight and white, your ends are perfectly trimmed, your lacefront is perfectly sown, and your body is perfectly tight, you better not be a Black actress and have the audacity to think you belong in front of the camera.

Perhaps there will be a day when we’re allowed (and allow ourselves) the same type of creative freedom Dunham has to create a show like “Girls” and cast her average-looking self as the main character. Until then, I’ll continue to sneak viewings of the current “Girls” while at the houses of female friends. A man gotta do his homework, yanno?

¹I guess you could say that Gabby Sidibe eschews this rule, but “Precious” wasn’t exactly an, um, “normal” movie. 

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

10 Not Really All That Positive Things Black America Should Still Be Thankful For

You're welcome

“Don’t worry about it. I never get sick”

I said this to a bartender at a restaurant last week. She’d forgotten to put a straw in my drink, and offered to run in the back and get me one. When I told her not to worry about it, she asked if I was sure, and reminded me that straws protect you from germs and shit. (in hindsight, she was either the most helpful bartender ever or she was definitely flirting with me and I’m just now realizing it)

I was able to say that so confidently because, well, it’s true…I never, ever, ever get sick. Sure, I might get a headache every now and then and maybe a sniffle or two, but I’d have to go back at least a decade to think of a time where I was sick enough to stay in bed all day or legitimately miss a day of work. Recently, I even got arrogant with it and began to test my limits — occasionally intentionally under-dressing for the weather and drinking heavily on nights I knew I had to work early in the morning (I don’t get hangovers either)

Anyway, this conversation occurred on a Wednesday night.

24 hours later, I was getting my ass kicked by some mutant hybrid Vietnamese e coli monkey virus that somehow made its way into my system and didn’t decide to stop kicking my stomachs ass until Tuesday morning. In that 96 hour span, I took roughly 100 shits, lost 15 to 20 pounds, and prayed in about 17 different languages to my toilet.

Thing is, despite the hell it put me through, this bug couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d begun to spread myself too thin with all of my writing/work commitments, and perhaps I just needed some time to close my laptop and refresh my brain before I did anything else. The mutant hybrid Vietnamese e coli monkey virus wasn’t the best thing in the world, but I have to say that I’m thankful that I got it when I did.

Anyway, this experience reminded me that we — humans, Christians, whatever — are supposed to be thankful for everything, not just the seemingly good things. And, as we enter Thanksgiving weekend, I thought of a few more not really all that positive things that we still should be thankful for.

1. Tyler Perry 

As I’ve stated before, Perry’s 100 mph descent into full cinematic retard territory just helps ensure that the Luke to his Anakin will eventually emerge and defeat the formidable Madea Kraken

2. Kim Kardashian

Someone has to entertain those 450 or so locked-out NBA n*ggas. Be thankful it’s not you.

3. Celebrity Twitter Idiocy and Bitchassness

Helps us sleep better when equipped with the knowledge that, regardless of how rich and famous some celebrities might be, the only way they’d beat you at Scrabble is if you replaced your brain with your sphincter.

4. Herman Cain

For showing us that, as long as he’s an unapologetically horny, nonsensical, misinformed, and irrationally elderly man, conservatives do actually care about black people

5. Reality Television Fights

Since the NFL has become increasingly non-violent and boxing has become increasingly irrelevant, Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop have become the only times we’re able to experience the vicarious rush that comes from watching a fight involving people we actually “know”

6. The Recession

Just think of all the crack, weave, rims, and chitlins that have been shelved in the last three years because we just couldn’t afford to buy it.

7. The NBA Lockout

No NBA = No commercials for the WNBA during NBA games

8. Unironic ratchetness

Eternally entertaining, unrelentingly spell-bounding, and consistently amazing (unless, of course, you’re close enough to it to catch a bullet ricochet)

9. BET

Just be thankful that they’re continuing to try very hard.

10. Drake’s “Take Care”

For finally providing the perfect soundtrack for the Diva Dude

Anyway, people of VSB, that’s it for me today. Can you think of any other not really all that positive things that either you in particular or black America in general should still be thankful for? 

Oh, and please make sure to have a safe and happy holiday weekend and sh*t.

—The Champ

Women Are Always The Victim…Right?

If he gets your daughter pregnant, I'm blaming her. And you. Not him. He looks like he would get your daugther pregnant.

I was out for lunch one day with a friend of mine who has many hilarious and actually spot on opinions about dating and relationships. I always joke with him that if he’d let me put him on camera that we’d make millions because of the outlandish things he says. We’d get more hate mail, but more press than a little bit. He’d effectively become the most hated Black man in America in under ten minutes. Flat.

Mind you, I don’t ever actually think he’s wrong.

Anyway, one particular day last week, he asked me if I’d ever read the article where (much like everybody else – it’s from December 2009 so forgive my late pass) Attorney General Eric Holder called on Black fathers to take more responsibility for their children. It’s the same message Obama preached some months before and slightly rings true to what Bill Cosby said some years ago when he pissed off all of Black America and a few Samoans.

To wit:

“Too many men in the black community have created children and left them to be raised by caring mothers. These women do a wonderful job, but we ask too much of them and too little of our men,” Holder told the congregation, which included members of his family, according to Newsday. “It should simply be unacceptable for a man to have a child and then not play an integral part in the raising and nurturing of the child.” – Eric Holder

Of course, as Black men, we hate hearing these statements over and over again. Mostly because it paints a very one sided picture. And of course, men and women ALWAYS applaud at these statements like its the first they’ve ever heard them. Keep in mind, neither of us disagree with the spirit of it, but its more about why Black men are constantly the punching bag for all of the problems in the Black community. Then my boy made an observation (I’m paraphrasing):

“How come you never hear anybody say, ‘Too many of our women in the Black community are letting any and every man get them pregnant. We have too many women sleeping with men recklessly and getting pregnant by men who have no business being fathers or boyfriends. We need to hold some of our women more responsible for their decisions.’”

Of course my response was, “well, you just can’t do that. It’s not women’s fault that these men leave them alone and without help after they get pregnant.”

But then I started thinking…why can’t you ever hold women accountable for the demise of the community the same way we continuously hold men accountable. It’s pretty much the party line that (many) men aren’t living up to their ends of the bargain. They get these women pregnant and roll out leaving another fatherless child to fend for his or herself through life with only a mother who can’t teach a boy how to be a man or a girl how to be loved by a man.

The truth is though, aside from the snide comments made about the baby mama with seven children on welfare, nobody ever does lay any blame on the women involved in those situations, almost as if its taboo. At least not publicly. Sure, behind closed doors we all think the women with all those children probably needed to be locked up in a room with a copy of O Magazine and Chicken Soup for The Soul, but pretty quickly we start talking about the fact that their daddy’s probably aren’t any good. It’s so easy we do it by default. From churches to public podiums, if there’s a conversation about the community and its problems, its pretty much starting with the lack of fathers in the home. Or the lack of a father presence, etc. Nobody EVER says, publicly, “While the fathers aren’t there somebody needs to figure out how to stop these women from sleeping around with all these men too. Lord almighty, we might not have a father problem if we didn’t have some of these girls giving it up without protection.”

The assumption is that evil men dupe all of these women into becoming mothers and are the reason every cat in hood doesn’t have a yacht. But how come the accountability doesn’t go both ways?

Riddle me that one Batman…should women be held accountable…at all? Public Blackness seems to indicate no. But I’m not sure that’s right.

Are women really always victims in these situation? Or do all the talking heads have it right?