The "Girls" Porn Parody Can't Be Any More "Gross" Than the Real Thing

It pretty much goes without saying that it's Lena Dunham's decision, and hers alone, whether to put her stamp of approval on a pornographic take on her show. I think it's ridiculous to sanctimoniously claim to be making important art or a necessary political and sexual statement with something as painfully dull as Girls, but I guess Dunham feels differently. She really shouldn't let This Ain't 'Girls' XXX offend or "gross her out," though. Jesus, at least in the parody there will be people getting laid who actually look like they're enjoying themselves.
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It pretty much goes without saying that it's Lena Dunham's decision, and hers alone, whether to put her stamp of approval on a pornographic take on her show. I think it's ridiculous to sanctimoniously claim to be making important art or a necessary political and sexual statement with something as painfully dull as Girls, but I guess Dunham feels differently. She really shouldn't let This Ain't 'Girls' XXX offend or "gross her out," though. Jesus, at least in the parody there will be people getting laid who actually look like they're enjoying themselves.
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For those of you who haven't thought all this time that Lena Dunham's Girls is itself a porn parody, along comes the inevitable real -- though not exactly "official" -- porn parody of the HBO show. Last week, Hustler announced that it's in the process of shooting an erotified version of Dunham's unholy creation, called This Ain't 'Girls' XXX, a title which, while not exactly the kind of thing that will assure it a place in the porn parody pantheon beside the likes of Schindler's Fist and The DaVinci Load, is, let's face it, all something like Girls really deserves. It seems an almost appropriately ironic commentary on the source material, in fact, that Hustler went the insouciant hipster route and filed this one under knock-offs they don't even bother trying to come up a decent pun for. They should've just called it Porno. Or maybe, you know, Whatever.

If you figured news of This Ain't 'Girls' XXX would be met with excited approval from Lena Dunham, you apparently don't know how "important" a show like Girls is, at least as far as its creator is concerned. Apparently, Dunham took a day or so to gather her thoughts upon learning of the existence of her triple-X doppelgänger, then issued an official opinion on the matter. And that opinion wasn't exactly favorable. Via Twitter, Dunham listed the reasons she doesn't like the idea of a porn parody of her show. She says that from the very beginning Girls was intended to be a "feminist action" aimed at male-produced porn, which she says makes money off of a guy's idea of female sexuality; that her own depictions of sex are meant to "counteract" those promoted by "the proliferation of porn"; and that the whole idea just plain "grosses (her) out." If you've ever seen even a single episode of Girls and you're not laughing after reading those last couple of lines, you have to be one of those people who assumes that everything Lena Dunham says and does is an Andy Kaufman-style put-on.

So there you have it: Girls isn't simply a show about mind-bogglingly insufferable children of privilege living in Brooklyn and the selfish assholes with artistic pretensions who fuck them badly, it's feminism. And casting sex almost exclusively as an ugly act of defilement doesn't gross out Lena Dunham, but people actually enjoying it -- or at the very least using it to entertain others -- does. I always figured that secretly, for all her wryness and tendency toward self-deprecation, Dunham really did take herself and the acclaim she's inexplicably managed to garner far too seriously, and her reaction to something as silly and predictable as a porn parody of her show has outed her in the most pronounced way possible. Girls is one of those shows that everyone seems to be talking about in the media universe and its take on sex is an integral part of why; some idiot throwing together a porn version of it was, almost literally, a no-brainer. To Dunham's credit, she hasn't filed suit against Hustler or tried to shut down production of This Ain't 'Girls' XXX but it probably would've been a good idea for her to either prove her comic chops and make a joke out of the whole thing or just ignore it altogether. A humorless and sadly expected dissertation on how "porn bad" and "feminism good" just confirms her many critics' worst assumptions about her.

What Dunham seems to be saying -- what may be the most unfortunate takeaway from her comments about her show's porn twin -- is that really the only thing that separates "feminist action" from pornography is who's behind the camera creating each. I understand the argument that a movie like This Ain't 'Girls' XXX will very likely be run-of-the-mill guy fantasy stuff -- since that's certainly what we've come to expect from Hustler -- but given that the sex you're likely to see in it will at least be joyous, or portrayed that way anyway, is it really all that terrible? I know plenty of women who enjoy porn for the same reason men do: because it's a fantasy. It's unfortunate that often the fantasy on display is in fact geared toward men, and I'm all for making sure guys understand that, no, real women don't always want you to do in bed what the women in porn always seem to be loving the hell out of; still, making the claim that portraying the kind of sex you'd never in a million years want to have is a vital artistic statement while the kind of sex you see in most high-end porn movies these days is "gross" and anti-women is kind of dumb. As if miserable sex is empowering while fun sex is debasing.

We all know that real sex can in fact be awkward, questionable, and occasionally even humiliating -- much like what's portrayed in Girls -- but at some point I think both men and women want to believe that this thing we all keep chasing is worth it. Hence, the fantasy come to life. And is the supposed degradation of women on display in a porn movie that much worse than the degradation Dunham often makes the centerpiece of her show? Is it somehow okay just because a woman happens to be the one shooting the action and concocting the storyline? I get the impression that nothing you're going to see in This Ain't 'Girls' XXX will be more shocking or ugly than what you see on an episode of the real Girls. True, the sex in the porn movie won't be fake, but at least you probably won't feel as dirty and filled with regret for watching it as the characters immediately feel for having it.

Dunham can't even make the argument that her "average" body, which she uses like a cudgel to relentlessly beat America's beauty ideals into submission every Sunday night during Girls season, is being replaced by some Barbie doll in the movie. As far as I can tell, the woman playing Dunham's character in the parody is by no means your stereotypical surgically enhanced sex kitten; she's bigger and less alien-looking than, say, Jenna Jameson and if nothing else she represents in her own unique way the fact that pornography is a reflection of real-world desires, that not everyone prefers one particular shape and size. If you're the kind of person who finds Lena Dunham attractive, maybe a movie like This Ain't 'Girls' XXX really will be a form of fantasy fulfillment.

It pretty much goes without saying that it's Lena Dunham's decision, and hers alone, whether to put her stamp of approval on a pornographic take on her show. I think it's ridiculous to sanctimoniously claim to be making important art or a necessary political and sexual statement with something as painfully dull as Girls, but I guess Dunham feels differently. She really shouldn't let This Ain't 'Girls' XXX offend or "gross her out," though. Jesus, at least in the parody there will be people getting laid who actually look like they're enjoying themselves.