Dogging Tales: A Review

Image

Peaking at 2.1 million viewers and clocking in ten hours of trending on twitter, the controversial Channel Four documentary Dogging Tales aired last night. Following a tradition of taboo sex shows (My Phone Sex Secrets, Virgin School) the show fused first-person accounts from apparent dogging ‘enthusiasts’ who each donned a different animal mask, like a creepy creature comforts and creepily well filmed ‘hidden camera’ footage of the dogging, edited with Eurotrash pink lighting, like an Amsterdam brothel. Well, I use the word enthusiasts cautiously, because I’m not entirely convinced all the doggers were that… enthused.

The first couple is long-time dogger Les and his partner Sue, who smiles uncomfortably as he recalls how he found dogging (or rather how dogging found him) when he was having sex with a girl (or maybe two? Well, there was two girls in the car at least) when a trope of men gathered at the car. Rather than drive off in terror/anger, he curiously asked what they were doing, decided he liked the sound of dogging, and returned to the girl(s). “The ex wife doesn’t like it. I wonder why.” Hmm, me too. A mystery.

When asked how she feels about voyeur (literal) wankers at dogging, Sue replies “I don’t pay that much attention to them, I just sort of, if I’m playing on me own I just close my eyes and ignore them or if me and Les are doing anything I just look in the opposite direction” which do not sound like the words of a woman who enjoys being watched having sex. Les and Sue both claim she dogging had done wonders for her confidence, after what seemed to be a less than savoury previous relationship; though its not stating exactly what happened, she says she didn’t enjoy sex with her ex, and wears make up to feel like a different person, to cover her past. Sue seems less that happy and confident, she spent the show smoking on the sofa, arms crossed, until she piles on make up to go dogging with a parrot owning, Lynx loving Les, 20 years older than her, with 18 kids and hopes to impregnate her. Apparently the kids know about the dogging, which seems worrying because I can’t imagine that they could be that old. Also, I’m pretty sure I’d be thankful if my parents kept that secret from me.

“You can never predict what’s going to happen when you go dogging. You never know what gonna happen when you go into the woods.” Which sounds to me as the opposite of an advertisement. With its over serious tone (owing, I imagine to director Leo Maguire, who also shot Gypsy Blood), the show seems like an odd episode of Silent Witness, in the opening shots, I was waiting for a murderer, perhaps an religious nut ‘doing God’s work.’ Les takes photos of masked Sue, who sits legs akimbo, Sharon Stone style on a log, while men watch and masturbate. ExDJ Les describes it as ‘a little show’, ‘entertaining people’ and that it makes him feel ‘a little more important.’ Later, Les claims that condoms don’t fit him – even extra large ones. Which is obviously bullshit. It seems insane that he seems to rather get castrated than wear a condom. Although, after 18/9 kids, it seems about time he boys out the procreation game. Ironically enough, he talks at length about how his parrots chose one person, like a mate they stay together forever, with pride he is that person. He decides he’ll dog until the day he dies – then he wonders what Sue will do. He pities Sue missed the golden years of dogging, and claimed the internet ruined it – as people are spending too much time arranging and not enough time dogging. Which seems mad- DO THEY KNOW, IS THIS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE? ARE PEOPLE JUST WANDERING INTO WOODS FOR A WANK IF I WENT FOR A WALK TONIGHT WOULD I FIND A SHIT LOAD OF DOGGERS? When I was about 16 (and classy) we, as high schoolers, used to go for camp outs in woods, to get drrrUnk – but imagine if we’d unknowingly camped out at a dogging hot spot, what trauma that would cause.

Image

Fox wearing lorry driver, (who I will call Foxy – note: he is in no way Foxy) who lives in his lorry argued that dogging is addictive as no matter how well or badly you do, you don’t have to see the person again. Which I understand the appeal of on the most basic level, as a member of the ‘Hook Up’ generation – but over a sustained period of time? For a lifetime?

Foxy claims that he’d estimate 70% of lorry drivers are doggers, describing dogging as ‘a perk of being a lorry driver’ – not exact the Perks of Being a Wallflower, is it? On a quest for ‘the furry triangle’, Foxy describes women as a female, in an almost animalistic way, suggesting some covert misogyny. This is backed up as he seems not to believe in love, and has no desire for a family, mostly because he claims that men who are in relationships, as well as those who use prostitutes, pay for sex. He claims he hasn’t been hurt, but he paid a lot in relationships, seeming to have some idea that all women are ‘Golddiggers’.

Next up is the married for 15 years couple, John who cares a raccoon mask, and the Susie who wears a mask that I want to say is… a donkey? Anyway, she makes up for the shitty mask with her thigh high boots and lingerie. She has the body of a pornstar and the voice of a rough thug from a council estate.cIt seems to be not quality but quantity for Susie: ”I like one after another. I just come down here, I suppose to get through as many blokes as I can. I don’t want to them to care about me. I just want them to like what they’re looking at, fuck me, then go. And the quicker they come the better, because I haven’t come down here to make love to someone for hours, they just wanna come and they just wanna go“ she says over footage of her shagging in the boot of her care, moaning loudly. She speaks to them first, but her husband claims have met all sorts of people while dogging: undertakes, vicars, solicitors and weirdos, which seems a bit rich coming from a guy who watches people fuck his wife in his car wearing a raccoon mask. Although, he is respectful of women’s consent, though his proclamation that he makes the rules is truly chilling, his raccoon eyes empty – as if he’s robbing you/initiating you into a cult. “How many women and men are gonna sit and watch this programme and think oh I wish I could do that.” Not me, my dear. “I bet there’s loads of people.” Not if Twitter’s anything to go by. “I bet there’s loads of women that dream of having two men, or three men, or however many, but wouldn’t dare mention it to their husbands.” Maybe she right. But there seems to be more men than women in the dogging community. Many middle aged, and I’m sure plenty of them are married. I can just see it now. A middle aged woman, whose jam’s a hit at the Church fete, married to a hardcore dogging fanatic. She rationalises that it’s just like how all the other women’s wives masturbate to internet porn, her husband just prefers to do it in some woods. If anything she’s convinced herself its more civil than all that. So, though she won’t join in herself, she pops along to show her support. On refreshments. Making tea at a makeshift table, like a fete stall, offering vol-au-vents and condoms on separate plates. Doing a clean up so the locals don’t move us on, like some sort of sex-gypsies. John likes his missus been done by a group of eddit stobart dirvers (who wouldn’t), and Suze admits if a guy can’t get it up, she takes it to heart – “I’ve never felt secure in myself ever, ever, have I?” John agrees “which is astounding” – and I agree. She’s got a perfectly toned body, tits that are so big and perky they must be fake and long hair extentions that sway behind her as she’s getting fucked by a stranger on national television. Susie this, and a fear of aging and losing her looks, stems reveals years of anorexia. There seems to be a worrying pattern of negative pasts with these women, a burning need to be accepted and desirable – which makes them feel good “for a little while.” Dear masked mother of two disabled children struggles with her life, but she “leaves all that behind” and “becomes me” when she goes dogging. Insecure because of her weight, the obese anon she feels like an outsider until she becomes the sexy, confident dogger. Being desirable makes her feel good. Her husband knows what she does, and she tells him she loves him before she leaves, and then she can’t wait to get back home. For her, dogging, she says, is like foreplay before having sex with her husband, she says.

Now there’s the stars – meerkat masked skinny Terry and vole(?) masked Sara, a larger lady. They eat toffee under the duvet in front of the duvet “It’s quite good actually.” They complain that people were watching them having sex whilst dogging, which put her off, despite the basic definition of dogging. When asked why they were dogging, “It was just, I think I got bored, of just being with him, so I thought I’d try cheating and it just happened to get out of control, really. “ The camera hovers over a close ups on Terry’s meerkat face, and this would be a golden moment of a comedy mockumentary. But its not. At least, I don’t think it is. It’s real life. I think. “I started cheating with any random person that would give me the attention.”Dogging seems to be a last resort (well, it definitely was, Terry himself said so) “I think its very exciting” he says unenthusiastically as she yawns.

Image

They’re look for another woman for Terry, so that “he can get his enjoyment out of all the dogging.” Monotonously, Terry says “its always been a dream of mine to have two women.” Then it returns to this odd comedy mockumentary feel. ‘Two weeks later’ Terry is sat, comparatively tiny in between Sara and an even larger black girl, Anne, who they’ve known a week.  The girls watch TV and nap together  while Terry’s at work at the factory. “She’s had a stroke of my tit but that’s about it” says Anne, she admits she likes to play –especially oral.  She’s sucked Sara’s breast, and Terry’s penis. Terry is ‘fine with it’ but he mumbles he’s ‘still trying.’ Anne admits in Terry’s car they can’t do much because its too small. “I’m the driver” says Terry, defining his role as utterly nonsexual. When they go dogging, again that phrase pops up, this time from Anne, “in the woods, anything can happen.”The trio stand in the woods, alongside the camera crew, as the girls complain: “shit I can’t see fuck all”… “is this not marshland?”… “what now?” Terry gulps nervously “well you two can have a play” he suggests. The girls complain about Terry’s lack of participation, and with a “fuck this”, Sara pulls down his pants and starts, politely put, wanking him off. They seem to patronise him, “this is lovely this isn’t it, Terry” he responds “its great.” “Shame there isn’t another guy, you know what I mean? …Terry do you want your dick sucked?” Anne asks “No.” He replie,s “you two can play with each other.” So they do, boob wise anyway. Apparently in the home, sex is vanilla. Even an interracial threesome, apparently. “There’s somebody coming” one of the girls says, and it all takes a turn to Blair Witch Project. The camera pans to a fox “oh god, they’re not going to rape a fox are they”, I thought – but no, a wild dogger appears, as they girls lick each others nipples. The man feels Sara’s breasts and Terry snaps “Sarah I’m not comfortable with this” he says this a couple of times, and then they all “I’m too cold” he says, and the girls reluctantly, very Britishly apologising to the man. “I didn’t like that at all”, Anne responds: “But that’s what dogging is!” And Terry agrees: “Yeah.” The attempt to reconnect with Sara has not seemed to have paid off.

They revisit Terry at Christmas, and in silence, he and Sara eat KFC by the tree in silence, candles lit at the table. Anne is not there. “This burgers really nice.” He says awkwardly. When interviewed, Anne is crying behind the mask, saying she wants to give up dogging. It’s obvious some major shit has gone down. “Its been up and down recently, to be honest.” Says Terry – no fucking shit. Sara says dogging has shown her how much Terry loves her (noticeably she doesn’t say she loves him) and how much he cared. Her chins judder under her mask as Terry says he’ll always protect her.

Image

At one point a dog walking local takes the camera crew down the ‘dreaded doggers lane’, land that ‘belongs to the free squirrels’ – the local shows how the doggers cut the trees back in the woods to park their cars and get on with general dogging activities. “It’s like a city in here, you can see they’re created all these little roads, a maze, a path that they’ve created.”Almost seems like he’s blurring the fairytales he told his children with the reality of the doggers’ paradise.  Magical used condoms screwn across the woodland floor.  “The police said they’d cut branches into penis shapes and were sitting on them, sticking the treebranch up their backsides” seems like another written comedy moment. A newspaper shows a naked man handcuffed to a tree, being spoken to by policemen, who had a bag over his head and a sign inviting people to abuse him and do anything but take the bag off his head. The camera pans over the local’s dog literally take a shit while he explained people’s idea of ‘that age of Aquarius loving’ and you wonder, for the forty thousandth time of the 26 minutes you’ve just spent watching this – what the fuck you’re watching.

The show is unexpectedly serious and sad and just as seedy as you’d imagine. I was expecting more – I don’t know – normalish people? People who are happy and have loving families and just like a bit of dogging. I imagine, opposite to Susie’s thoughts, that the show has discouraged the curious.

The show left me with one final thought: God, is dogging depressing.

HBO Girls Review: ‘Together’ (2×10)

The second season of Lena Dunham’s Girls came to a disappoint climax last night, in the finale ‘Together’, which made a lame, trite effort to tie together a tempestuous season of  sex, drugs and serious soul searching for all characters involved. Girls-Season-2-Episode-10-Together-4

The episode opens with OCD riddled Hannah with an intense appointment with Doctor Google following a serious spurt of ear-related hypochondria expands into just general distrust that her body won’t do what it’s meant/will do what it’s not meant to do (e.g. stop breathing). Hannah’s sassy book editor calls her to bust her ass about her lack of work – she resolves to write the entire thing in a day. Of course, the next shot of Hannah we get is her eating Cool Whip and reading a magazine.

Marnie and Charlie are back together – well, Charlie wasn’t so sure it seemed going by his reaction to her saying that they had reached their ‘end point’ and were now ‘old fogeys.’ Marnie makes a scene after misinterpreting his hesitation after her ‘we’ll be together forever’ spiel. Literally huffing as she storms off, arms folded like a child told she can’t eat dessert before lunch Charlie chases after her, and it’s sadly reminiscent of the puppy-esque boring Charlie of Season One that Marnie fell so spectacularly out of love with. Initially, Marnie’s want to make him snacks and have his ‘brown babies’ seems sweet. I agree that motherhood is a worthy life ambition – but it doesn’t seem authentically what Marnie wants. Perhaps she’s come to a realisation, a true epiphany that her vocation is motherhood- or maybe she just said what she thought Charlie wanted to hear? Or maybe she really does think this is what she wants to do with her life. Just as she thought she wanted to be an art curator, or a singer. Charlie admitting that he only ever wanted to hear Marnie say that seems genuine enough, although in last week’s episode his pity and contempt for Marnie which has been blatant through this series makes his love questionable? Marnie is unquestionably vain – “Really? You don’t want to date me? This is your last chance.”  She shouts across the restaurant (which is playing a nice bit of Jake Bugg) as if to say, please, I’m way too hot for rejection. This series Marnie should’ve learnt that her looks are unimportant – they got her a hostess job, the sexual advances of Booth Jonathon (creepy doll sex artist guy) – neither of which brought her any real happiness. However, all she’s done is claw back Charlie – Charlie who brags about his money that Marnie talks about a bit too much to genuinely not care about it. Maybe Marnie will become a gold digger in Season Three, of which a 13 episode long series has been commissioned, although surely we’ve already had that with poor old Jessa and her Creepy Capitalist husband Thomas-John.

girls-season-2-together1

                Previous to this scene, Charlie is, erm, in clinical terms, performing oral sex on Marnie who becomes paranoid about the scale of his improvement in the sack, and manically and pointedly asked how many people he’s slept with since their break up.  Ray and Shoshanna are also having sex, Shoshanna asks him to finish up, but Ray won’t ‘finish’ unless she ‘finishes’ – and Shosh ain’t finishing any time soon. Shoshanna is wracked with guilt, and she’s taking it out on Ray as aggression, pushing him away as far as possible. Adam is also getting his end away, with straight forward, beautiful and badly treated Natalia. After his treatment – he eventually seems to choose Hannah over Natalia, when really- he never deserved the choice in the first place. He calls her a whore when she replies that yes, she is enjoying his dick, thank you very much – and she tells him she can enjoy his dick without being a whore – and she wants to make it crystal fucking clear. Natalia doesn’t play games, and it seems that Adam has no remorse for last week’s sexual transgression, seeing as he’s happy to verbally degrade her during sex.

Marnie calls in on Hannah, but Hannah hides next to her bed. Hannah and Marnie’s friendship has always been an odd one, but their lack of communication this season seems to question their label of ‘best friends’ – best friends should stick with each other through anything, putting each other in front of themselves, but Marnie and Hannah have hidden their struggles from each other. Marnie only visits Hannah when she has something to boast about, not because she has a problem – not because she needs Hannah – or even because she thinks Hannah needs her – Marnie also obviously thinks Hannah’s under the bed – why doesn’t she look if she’s so worried about her? And on her way out, she takes a candle stick holder – as if she had the ulterior motive of getting the rest of her belongs from her old house.

r1

                Ray. Ray, how I love you. Worried about Shoshanna’s growing distance from him, he attempts to make changes to his life, addressing the problems she addresses – namely, his lack of ambition. Initially, he wants to finish his ‘Latin Studies PHD’ (which is not a course I would had put him down to study), but instead he accepts the offer of manager (or district chief logistics and operations supervisor/developmental operations coordinator) of a nice up-market Brooklyn Grumpy’s and the hint of inheriting the company, or at least a top ranking job, due to his bosses ‘internal issues’ (which could be a euphemism for his own personal health problems, if not internal  issues in the business itself) – his boss who I wish we’d seen more of, with his quips about Shosh’s bread product bags. Things seem to be looking up for Ray, he’s excited to tell Shosh – thinking she’ll be excited that he’s taking some initiative, making his life change for the better. And how does she react with the news? By breaking up with him. I’ve always had a soft spot for Shoshanna, but ever since he cheated on her, I’ve just been harvesting continuous disappointment.

I wouldn’t be surprised if next season she tries to get Ray back – after she grows bored of meaningless flings with boys who she means nothing to. Gone is the scared virgin of Season One, and in her place is a very confused young woman. She screams “do you even know me?” when Ray asks if there’s another guy – a tall blond Scandinavian type. However, later we see her drunkenly kissing this exact description in a bar. Is she doing this to spite Ray? Or is she losing herself, going against the ideals she’s always held herself to.  How can Ray know her, if she doesn’t know herself? I hope Ray is in the next season, and I hope he doesn’t change.

Hannah attempts to replicate Carey Mulligan’s cute crew cut, and butchers her hair (Lena Dunham’s own hair is being cut I believe) and she turns to the junkie she used for sex tries to fix her – her hair at least, but just exacerbates the problem. Earlier Hannah rang home to ask her Dad to give her money, so she can pay back her advance, relieving the editor’s pressure- he refuses.

It seems like Hannah needs a man to save her. Her Dad can’t (or, at least, won’t) save her. Laird the junkie can’t save her (especially not her hair). She talks about how when she was younger she’d break glass, and someone would clean it up for her, worrying that she’d get cut – but now no one cares. No one’s there to pick up the pieces. Thank God Laird calls her out on her bullshit, when she interprets his human decency for a sexual advance -he calls her “the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met.” She then admits “I didn’t think of you as a person and I understand now that was wrong.”

What I would’ve liked to see now would be for Hannah to crack on and write her book, at least a chapter or two – thus far she’s written one line, which Marnie reads when she’s in the flat: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance…” (which seems ironic in comparison to how this episode actually ends). She speaks to Marnie. She takes her meds. No men involved. She feels optimistic.

girls%20recap%2018mar13

But Hannah wants to be protected. She finally calls Adam, who (despite his the fact his lovely girlfriend Natalia has forgotten his ‘maybe yes probably rape’) is destroying a ship he’s been building in his apartment since the shows conception. Adam runs topless through New York, literally dropping everything, to get to Hannah who needs him help, like a freaking Ryan Gosling Rom-Com Hero. I don’t buy Adam as the romantic hero; did he not just rape someone last week? This ending is purely a self-indulgent act of giving in to conventions of the less than respectable genre of romcom. If Lena Dunham is the feminist icon, the voice of a generation –how can she forget Adam’s transgression? The whole episode is rushed, but this end really left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

In the second episode of this season, Hannah calls the police when Adam enters her apartment without invitation; however, this time Adam literally kicks her apartment door down when she won’t let him in, and we’re meant to view this happy for the couple? The couple who just didn’t work? I don’t feel like Marnie and Charlie really deserve happiness. Neither do Hannah and Adam. Do you know who does? FUCKING RAY. Hannah’s writing block and ‘OCDC’ situation remain unresolved – her promise to write pages for her editor has been broken. She relinquishes responsibilities and hides in Adam’s arms from the big scary world. Shosh seems to have thrown her toys out the pram, Jessa ran away from her problems, Marnie huffed and got what she wanted, Hannah hide from her problems only to be pulled out and cradled by dominant Adam, who repeatedly calls her kid. Why are all these Girls represented as children?

(500) Days of Summer and Debunking the Friendzone Myth

Image

Released in 2009, (500) Days of Summer was an offbeat indie ‘anti-romcom’ box office hit, catapulting Zooey Deschannel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to international stardom. The film is peppered with great dialogue and scenes, such as the choreographed musical routine to ultimate feel good tune-  Hall and Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, which marching band and animated birds and a winking Han Solo ‘ This is followed which is followed in a stunning juxtaposition with scenes of moping, self pitying Tom. The nonlinear structure of the film gives it the spice of difference while remaining in the popular market. However, the way in which it is interpreted as showing the ‘friendzone.’

Image

Tom meets Summer working in an office, writing cards – ironic, as the industry perpetuates ideologies to the masses. Tom says, after his Summer fling (ha ha) “These cards, and the movies and the pop songs, they’re to blame for all the lies and the heartache, everything. We’re responsible. I’M responsible. I think we do a bad thing here. People should be able to say how they feel, how they really feel, not ya know, some words that some stranger put in their mouth. Words like love, that don’t mean anything.” But its Tom’s buying into the idea of the ‘nice guy’ and the idea that somehow he deserves a relationship with Summer, though despite her outright telling him she wasn’t interested in a long term monogamous relationship with him.

Image

They argue:

Summer: We’re just fr… 

Tom: [Interrupting]
No! Don’t pull that with me! This is not how you treat your friend! Kissing in the copy room? Holding hands in IKEA? Shower sex? Come on! Friends my balls!

Despite Tom’s feelings, its hard to subjectively blame Summer. She was clear with Tom on the point- she even tells him she doesn’t believe in love– and he agrees to her terms. Let me repeat: HE AGREES TO HER TERMS. Any substance to his argument that Summer is in the wrong has fallen flat. Summer is constructed of contradictions – as most people are. People change, people do things that aren’t ‘them’ (i.e “That’s so not me, I can’t believe I did that”) – as Iain S. Thomas said “I keep wondering, how many people do you need to be, before you can become yourself.

Image

Often the audience demonises Summer, calling her a ‘bitch’, ‘slut’, a ‘cocktease’ or whatever, but the fact is, he agreed to not being in the kind of relationship he wanted – so why should he have the right to insult her? Why should the audience? Perhaps it’s because we see the story from Tom’s vantage point, its easier to side with the person who’s shoes you’re walking in. If we saw from Summer’s angle, perhaps we’d had thought differently. She meets a boy – Tom – he’s great, but somethings missing. She’s straight with him, and rather than continue to lead him on, she finishes it and unintentionally breaks his heart, and he can’t let go. Then she meets someone else someone, as she says who made her certain of what she was never certain with, with Tom. A whole new love story, that ends with a wedding and the attempted rekindling of a friendship with Tom, despite his nasty words born from selfpity. Also, the Author’s Note at the start of the film sets us up to dislike the girl, without even knowing who she is or what she has done. The ‘fuck you’ also suggests that the Tom’s real life counterpart is still hurt, or at least still bitter. Summer is set up as a bitch, so its unsurprising the audience think her a bitch.

Image

A guy and a girl can be just be friends, but at one point or another, they’ll fall for each other…maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever.” This statement is ridiculous – the idea that no one can have friends of the other gender. There isn’t even a way to articulate how wrong this statement is, because it’s just ridiculous.

Hollywood perpetuates this idea that casual sex doesn’t work, especially between friends, as films like Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached prove. Films which have essentially the same story line – boy and girl meet, are attracted to each other, don’t want serious relationships but want to get laid, they develop feelings for each other, and they can’t continue unless they commit to a traditional monogamous relationship.

Image

However, Joseph Gordan-Levitt, who plays Tom, gave an interview to Playboy magazine in which he questioned this romanticised view of Tom as the celebrated ‘nice guy’ and Summer as the ‘bitch’, even if others who worked on the film felt that was the right reading – as the aforementioned Author’s Note would suggest.

“The (500) Days of Summer attitude of “He wants you so bad” seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones, but I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.

No, I really liked that movie. The coming-of-age story is subtly done, and that’s great, because nothing’s worse than an over-the-top, cheesy, hitting-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer, moral-of-the-story sort of thing. But a part of the movie that’s less talked about is that once Zooey’s character dumps the guy, he builds himself up without the crutch of a fantasy relationship, and he meets a new girl.

Making checklists of things you’re looking for in a person is the numero uno thing you can do to guarantee you’ll be alone forever. You can’t meet someone and think, Do they have everything I want in a person? You just have to pay attention, keep your eyes open, listen to people and be present. I guess what I look for in a girl is someone who’s doing that too. Beyond that there’s not much more I would specify, because you never fucking know, man.”

Image

Levitt raises multiple intelligent points on this idea of ‘friendzoning’ and the ‘nice guy’, although he extends it outside of gender – which I think it good. Boys can be put into these situations too. However, the nice guy is undeniably a feminist issue. The idea of the ‘nice guy finishing last’ is ridiculous. Doing nice things for a female friend when you’re sober is embarrassing because it apparently shows that you’re friendzoned – and those who are nice to their girlfriends are ‘whipped’ – however, girls who help their male friends and/or are nice to their boyfriends are just doing the expected. There is no female equivalent to this, though girls may adopt the ‘friendzone’/’whipped’ to apply to their own situation. Often girls will complain that a guy’s ‘too nice’, or that she loves a ‘bad boy’ – the ideology has manifested itself in women too, however, the majority of women in happy relationships would most likely agree that men being ‘nice guys’ are paramount to successful relationships. The idea of the ‘friendzone’ demonizes the woman’s right to say no, and the idea that a woman is doing something wrong, rather than a man being fairly rejected massages the male ego, and to a certain extent perpetuates rape culture. Often these guys suffering from ‘Nice Guy Syndrome’ aren’t nice guys at all – women are not machines that you put nice actions into and sex comes out, as one  internet meme proclaims.Yes, we may empathise with Tom’s position, seeing past or present versions of ourselves in his self pity and his rejection. But does that mean this film proves the friendzone/’nice guys finish last’ myths true? Does it fuck.

HBO Girls Review: ‘On All Fours’ (2×9)

Image

The most uncomfortable episode of Girls to date, this week’s installation isn’t for the fainthearted. In last week’s episode, I was surprised at how happy I was for Adam that his life was getting back on track – this week I was reminded why it was surprising. Adam isn’t an affable chap. The juxtaposition of sweet and straightforward Natalia’s hooking up after a Sandra Bullock movie with the arguably Hannah-inspired boozed up, perverse borderline rape (or just rape? I think it was just rape) highlights this. Natalia is too good for Adam, and I hope she realises this after that assault, especially made nasty by his unwanted ejaculation onto her chest, beating off to the sound of her asking him not to, and then cleaning his semen off her chest with his shirt. Left with a bad taste in your mouth, Adam’s degradation of Natalia highlights his own flaws, and though I’m not a fan of Hannah, I can’t say I blame their two minute long interaction for his relapse or behaviour with Natalia, though it’s clearly reminiscent of their relationship. I would also argue with those who romanticise this with the idea that Hannah and Adam are fated to be together. I’m quite concerned this is where the plot’s going to end up, and I think the benefits that Adam’s life saw by the absence of Hannah highlighted the brutal fact they’re better off without each other. As little as I like Hannah, she’s no Adam. She hasn’t done anything too awful; she’s just a bit of a dick. Hannah’s the kind of person I wouldn’t want to be friends with, but I sometimes I relate to – and that scares me. Hannah and Adam drive each other mad, but not in a Noah and Allie the Notebook way – in a shove Q Tips in my ear kind of way.

Not that I blame Adam for the resurge of Hannah (who we may as well call Lena due to ridiculous the biographical context of the show, the girl truly took the ‘write what you know’ method to the nth degree)’s OCD. Which I have a slight issue with; although, apparently Dunham has hit the OCD nail on the head (eight times, I would imagine), I found the sudden resurfacing of her childhood illness oddly absent and without indication in episodes previous to episode eight: ‘It’s Back.’ But hey, I’m no expert. Hannah’s hit a brick wall. Virtually friendless (Jessa’s continued absence, while unmentioned, is felt), sexless, and as much as she likes the idea that she’s writing a book, and how often she lies that its going great, the only change the book deal has brought on Hannah is acute anxiety. Add to that her ex’s new serious grown-up girlfriend, and it’s enough for a lot of us to stick a Q-tip in our ears.  I was balking my through the whole Q-Tip debacle, however does show the serious extent of the mental illness, which is often mitigated in the media.

Of course, Dunham doesn’t get everything right. The not entirely inconspicuous lack of ethnic minorities in Girls has been shabbily addressed over this second series threw the token half arsed small parts of Sandy-the-Black-Republican (the lovely Donald Glover), Shoshanna’s rich Hindi Radhika and this week’s Indian Doctor. Dunham argues that the lack of ethnic minorities in her show is due to her ‘write what you know’ – which seems a hard pill to swallow. I doubt many living in Brooklyn have never come into contact with ethnic minorities – which is probably not what she’s saying, but it seems a pretty tired excuse nonetheless. “If I wanted to watch a show about privileged white girls, I’d just live my own life” I remember reading on tumblr.

One of the most beautiful blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments on this week’s was pre-Marnie karaoke disaster (which I’ll get to), when a female extra is crying on her phone, with no exceptions. It highlights that these are just glimpses of the stories of a handful of people, and each person in that room – though periphery in this case – are the protagonists of their own stories.

Image

Why Marnie, just WHY? Charlie, same question applies. Marnie’s without-a-hint-of-irony white girl Kanye cover wasn’t exactly an aphrodisiac – so why Charlie? Is it because she has a manic ‘I’M FINE SERIOUSLY EVERYONE LOOK HOW FINE I AM’ glint in her big doe eyes, reminiscent of a 60’s housewife’s failing marriage? Does that do it for you? A pity fuck? To be fair, I don’t know if many straight men could turn down an opportunity to have office desk sex with Allison Williams (even if she has too many l’s in her name). I’m not sure I could, to be honest. I don’t see this ending well, as I’m sure Marnie probably would, through her Disney princess rose-tinted lenses. Shoshanna totally has a point, I should add. Charlie does look the hottest he’s been – gone is the puppy and the shaved headed youth of serious one. On trains on opposite directions of life, Marnie’s going backwards while Charlie’s rocketing forward, which was made painfully obvious in the previous episode, when she rocked up to Charlie’s office in her trackies.

Marnie’s love of singing seems passionless and contrived – which may just be the point. Sure, she’s not exactly got the stage presence of Ray’s beloved Katy Perry, but her voice is nice enough. Her heart, however, doesn’t seem to be in it. “Lay down a track” sounds awkward and embarrassing in her mouth, she’s reminiscent of the staple rich white girl of My Sweet Sixteen that wants to be a popstar. Just, you know, because. And Charlie, as hot as he is,  seems now with the whole app-success like the Justin Timberlake douche character in The Social Network.

Image

Ray’s right to mock him for being a sell out. Hey, some of those  girls may well have been hookers. I didn’t like Series One Ray, but he’s grown on me – dug his roots deep. I still love Ray the most, this episode. He’s a dick, but Charlie’s right – that’s just the way he is. He’s Ray. Shosh shouldn’t have approached their relationship, well him in it, anyway, as a fixer upper. It’s a mistake many girls like her, sweet, naive and optimistic, have made and will make. I kind of love that he’s a dick- especially when he’s ripping that guy who’s speaking to Shosh about restaurants, it was a needed laugh in this week’s episode. I still hold a place in my heart for Shoshanna, but DAMN IT SHOSH. You held the doorman’s hand? Seriously?! I found cheating on Ray unneedly harsh, I liked their relationship, if he could accept her insanely quirky unable to shut up or style an acceptable hairstyle ways, why shouldn’t she accept that he’s a dick. He cares for her, he lets her know he cares for her – he’s still finding his way, but it’s not like that’s unusual. He’s a nice guy at heart, I mean, he wooed for Marnie, didn’t he? I couldn’t seem him ever hurt Shosh. But I guess anything could happen next week.

I will track down Lena Dunham if she ruins Ray.

The Decay of Skins

When Skins first graced our screens in 2007, it was groundbreaking.

Image

I watched it. I probably shouldn’t have, seeing as at the time I was 14. The first episode was layered and layered with shock value – wanking, drugs, sex, booze, prostitutes, an overdose – you name it. Of course the press cried out in disgust, condemning the show, but that seems to be the signifier of greatness, these days. As series one progressed the main protagonist, Tony – who’s set up as the ring leader of the young hedonist troupe – slowly loses his friends, due mainly to the fact he is a total prick. He embodies the reality of ‘lad’ culture, in part. Yes, he gets the girls, maintains top physique through rigorous exercise, uses his geeky sidekick Sid and his long suffering, highly strung Dad as punching bags and regularly intoxicated. But the smartarse finds, shock horror, if you act like that much of a dick to a person, you can’t just pass it off as a charming intrinsic part of your personality. You best friend will have enough of you, your girlfriend will leave you when you’ve treated her like shit for so long, especially if you go down on your gay mate in front of her. In the end, Tony is left with nothing. Oh, and then he’s hit by a bus. More than just a teen drama, Skins served to display how popular media representations are ridiculous – which ridiculed the journalists who peddled them, but also the teens that admired and aspired to them. Both genuinely funny and genuinely poignant at times, skins hit a fine balance, which was difficult to recreate. Series Two, while not a patch on the original series, displayed a valiant effort. In binary opposition to the Tony of Series One, series two juxtaposes him with a helpless, pityingly pathetic and sweet childlike Tony. The death of Chris was maybe unneeded, but heartbreaking nonetheless, emphasising the emotion of Jal’s storyline. The performances of the largely inexperienced cast are outstanding, and the largely inexperienced writers made some great, memorable TV.

Image

Series 3 largely left me with a bad taste in my mouth. With the exception of the first-love lesbian Naomi and Emily storyline, which I totally fell in love with, I didn’t much care for many of the characters, especially not the chief character, Effy. The writers seemed to romanticise depression in her, the tortured, effortlessly cool and beautiful girl that you can’t help but love, no matter how many times you push her away… honestly, it just pissed me off. She was a two dimensional rose tinted idea, but unlike Tony, there is no real display that her harsh treatments of her ‘friends’ and the boys who chase after her, endlessly, resulted in any consequences on her. Poor Panda. Effy treated her like shit, she was lonely with a mad mum and a extradited boyfriend, and the moment she gives into Cook’s seduction, Effy crucifies her – Cook, who Effy repeatedly threw aside like a shitty nappy. Series 4 seem to devolve into poorly planned chaos, with the ridiculous murderous psychologist, which arguably demonises help available for the depressed; which is ridiculous. If anything, glorify psychologists, because they help the mentally ill a lot more than letting the issue fester. Why they thought asserting a distrust in psychologists to a impressionable demographic was a worthy idea is frankly mystifying to me. In its defense, I did find the “Katie Fucking Fitch” episode a surprise masterstroke,  tackling a subject that while not an obvious choice, was highly emotive and highly relatable. Katie’s reaction to her barren womb was expertly written, and tear rendering- hitting home a fear of the future, and that a huge life decision she had taken for granted, one she probably would thought, in the periphery of her mind, she’d always choose, was snatched away. The problems of Emily, who had consistently been the more likable twin, seem ridiculous in this comparative context, and the audience really grows a unexpected soft spot for sassy, tough but undeniably vulnerable Katie Fitch.

Image

The mess of Season 5 and 6 aren’t truly even worth mentioning. Less than tactful approach to eating disorder, from Cassie to Mini, which hardly seemed a footnote in her personality and with her pregnancy its swept under the carpet, unlike Cassie, who’s loneliness and deep rooted desire of some form of control in her life had consumed her and corroded her mental well being. Also a Mini is a car, Minnie is a name. Franky is consistently unlikable, her storyline seems to a total inversion of Tony’s – from social outcast, her arrogance grows and the boys throw themselves at herself destructive nature. The cast are bland, with a few likable traits in Rich, Liv, Alo and Grace, though both the wedding and death of Grace seem ridiculous. The cast as a whole are (and I know this seems a ridiculous point) just way too attractive. Series One dealt with ordinary looking people. Yes, you might think them beautiful, but they wouldn’t look out of place walking into your six form. However, if 6 foot blond Mini or the embodiment of macho Matty graced your 9am Philosophy class, you’d know about it.

Image

Viewers of the show can hardly be blamed for missing the point: skins isn’t meant to glorify this drugs and – the writers seem to have forgot that themselves, opting for popularity over quality and maintaining the idea of ‘cool’ that the first series exposed as ridiculous in the first place.The future of skins is allegedly a blend of past characters initially seems appealing. I liked the idea of finding out what the cast of series one has got up to, as Sketch and Anwar, in their final episode, play the five year game – guessing where their friends will be and what they’ll be doing five years on from that date. That episode showed in 2008, and airing in March 2013, this will show if he was right. I guess they win in the end, though. I have seen every episode because as bad as it’s got, watching skins just seems to be a habit I keep at. And though I don’t have high hopes for season 7, I reserve judgement- naively hoping for my expectations to be wrongly low.