In case you hadn’t seen our first post on Girls and the shitstorm it spawned, allow me to get you up to speed.
On April 15, a new HBO show aired that featured a bunch of vapid rich girls living in New York City. It received lots of praise because it is incredibly accurate, and that made a lot of young writers incredibly jealous. Shit, I’m an old writer and it made me jealous.
So, when one or two people made a throwaway remark that the pilot contained no black people, the jealous community scrapped the nepotism meme they were running with and grabbed that instead. “Yeah!” they screamed, “What a racist show!”
THERE HAS ONLY BEEN ONE EPISODE. How do you know the show has no “people of color”? (Gawd, I hate that term.) The show is about shallow girls who are totally out of touch with reality. Why do middle-class black girls (a group that felt especially left out) want to be included in that? In the midst of this fake controversy, Lesley, a writer from the show who had nothing to do with the pilot Tweeted, “What really bothered me most about Precious, was that there was no representation of ME.”
Instead of calming down and saying, “She’s right. It shouldn’t matter what the actor looks like. It’s about the story,” these wailing babies decided to take her comment as a middle-class white girl trivializing the entire civil-rights movement, logic be damned! Blacks are 13% of the population. Black women are half of that. Middle-class black women are at best, half of that, but let’s try to argue 3.25% of the population has to be in 100% of the shows. Around this time, Gawker jumped on board. Up to now, Gawker’s bread and butter has been fake racism. Their most successful article ever, like, EVER, pointed out how stupid it was to be bummed by the black characters in Hunger Games (apparently some fans thought there were too many blacks or something). After seeing the analytics of that article, contributors began wrapping racism around anything they possibly could, especially if it’s a trending topic. At Gawker there is immense pressure to do a post that gets hits, and gigantic screens all over the office announce minute-by-minute scores on who is doing well and who is about to get fired. Calling Lesley a racist appeases a blogger’s jealousy while providing job security. With incentives like that, who needs honesty?
It’s obvious these writers couldn’t give two shits about one episode of one show’s lack of one class of one gender of one race. You can smell their apathy in the headlines. When you read Dodai Stewart’s “Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls” you can almost hear her pleading to her boss, “Why do we need to keep talking about the white girls on Girls?” She even admits Lesley’s Precious comment makes perfect sense and offers, “if the argument is: You can — and should be able to — enjoy a story about someone different from you, well, that is obvious.” Max Read shares his coworkers’ malaise and when discussing whether Lesley is racist or not says, “How should I know?” He has to pay his rent however, so he puts together an apathetic rant that also gives away its lack of relevance in the headline. “A Girls Writer’s Ironic Racism And Other ‘White People Problems’” might as well have been called, “Why the Fuck am I Writing About This Shit?” Discussing the “erasure of the people of color” is his job however, so he swallows his testosterone and farts out another liberal-arts term paper. They can’t be serious. Have they seen their own office? It’s about the whitest place in all of New York City. Have you ever been to a Gawker Media event? If it wasn’t for all the Asians from Gizmodo, you’d think you were in 1950.
Unfortunately, every accusation made against Lesley became fact in the public eye and consequently spawned more outrage. The mob mentality picked through her life and found a time this Jewish girl thought it was neat when her friend figured out how to Tweet a swastika using dashes. Years ago, when joking about how embarrassing it is for girls to acknowledge going number two, Arfin included embarrassing poop colloquialisms like “drop the kids off at the pool” and “bring the Obamas to the White House.” The race baiters had never heard the latter saying before, so they pretended Lesley made it up. They also dug up an old interview where she said no words should be censored and they spotlighted the n-word while the poor h-word and b-word she talked about got left on the cutting-room floor. It’s all just a game to the bloggers and it makes people feel righteous when they call someone a racist, but shouldn’t the truth at least sort of get to peek its head in? People lose their jobs over this shit. I told Lesley not to apologize and explained it’s like donating blood to a vampire, but the poor girl was frantic. She didn’t know what to do. It’s easy to tell a witch “haters gonna hate” but when the trial includes being held underwater for an hour, you’re damned no matter what you do.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel. Sources tell me Gawker is slowly changing and has come to realize all this fake hysteria isn’t just “bad for the soul” as founder Nick Denton put it; it’s ultimately bad for business. A racial freak-out may make money in the short term but constantly inventing news stories and feeding innocent people to the anonymous hordes is like crying wolf in a crowded theater. It gets old after the first 37 times. The new editor at Gawker.com, AJ Daulerio, says he’s bored by the old liberal narrative and wants to start doing content that doesn’t toe the party line. Gawker.com has also killed their comments section and come up with a new system where people have to register and be culpable for what they say. Gawker’s even given it the politically incorrect moniker “Pow-Wow.” (My family is 75% American Indian, by the way, and we are furious about this misappropriation.)
I’m sure there will still be racial McCarthyism at Gawker and writers such as Max Read and Dodai Stewart will never apologize for fucking with people’s careers. When the characters of color appear in Girls, the fanatics won’t recant. They’ll pretend these scenes were magically stuck in after the fact or they simply won’t mention it at all. In their mind, the story is over the second it’s off the homepage and the fact that Lesley will have to live with these accusations for the rest of her life is her problem.
However, you can’t continue a mythical Cold War forever and it’s likely the days of randomly tarring and feathering people for “racism,” real or imagined, are coming to a close. Not because it’s morally wrong, but because people are no longer buying it. And when people aren’t buying something, you can’t make money.