Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow React Strongly to Dumb, Sexist Question about 'Girls' from Oblivious, Dumb Reporter
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Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow React Strongly to Dumb, Sexist Question about 'Girls' from Oblivious, Dumb Reporter

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | January 10, 2014 | Comments ()


The Television Critics’ Association is going on this week, and next, and probably the next (it always seems to go on forever), which is always great, because it gives critics a chance to ask some of the dumb questions that actors and showrunners would simply ignore from the dumb people Tweeting at them. For instance, yesterday, Tim Malloy — who writes for The Wrap — posed this question in the form of a dumb statement:

“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show — by [Dunham] in particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason.”

Tim Malloy was shocked that Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham would take offense to the question, and even more taken back when Apatow asked Malloy if he had a girlfriend, and then followed that up with, “Does she like you?”

Apatow’s initial response, however, was “That was a very clumsily stated question that’s offensive on it’s face, and you should read it and discuss it with other people how you did that. It’s very offensive.”

Dunham, meanwhile, responded that her nudity was “a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive. But I totally get it. If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals.”

Later, Jenni Konner — the showrunner on Girls — interrupted a different question because she was still bugged by Malloy’s question.

“I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy,” she said pointing to the Malloy. “I was just looking at him looking at him and going into this rage [over] this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea it just makes me sort of sick.”

Still, Malloy stood by the question, asserting to Apatow that if nudity really was simply a realistic expression, why didn’t Paul Rudd get naked in This is 40, which 1) is a dumb follow-up question/defense of a dumb question, and 2) maybe Malloy doesn’t remember that Rudd basically showed the audience his taint in a realistic expression of what it’s like to be 40 and wonder if there was something wrong with this balls.

But Malloy continued to persists that there was nothing wrong with his line of questioning. He even later asked his girlfriend if the question was OK, and she was totally cool with it, which makes it totally OK, everybody! Yay! Tim Malloy’s girlfriend didn’t find the question objectionable! (Or three seasons too late).

Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey, I think, had the best response:

Two different quotes from Malloy: “I just don’t get the artistic reason for it, and want to understand it, because I’m a TV critic.” “I’m trying to understand it as a TV critic. That’s my job.” Hey, sorry to break it to you buddy, but if you have to have every artistic choice on a show explained to you so you can “understand it,” you’re not a very good TV critic.

Oh, and before anyone in the comments gets the idea that they’d like to add something dumb into the conversation, someone in Twitter has already taken care of it for you:

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 9.31.12 AM.png

Source: EW, The Wrap, Jason Bailey

Reminder: Amy Poehler's Early Career Stock Photos Are an Internet Blessing | 'Her' Review: My Love, She Speaks Softly

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Is this what it's come to? Labeled as a woman hater for asking a legitimate question about the context of your nudity in a show that you create? You think your so edgy and cool just excuse you show some skin, so I'm asking the same thing - What's the point? What is the context of you being naked in that scene? If you think I'm misogynist for posing that type of question because I happen to be guy and you a girl you are full of crap - If anything the people who are being sexist here are actually Dunham, Apatow and the showrunners - They projected that he doesn't find girls like Dunham attractive, they assumed he was out of line to ask a question because he happens to have a penis, they questioned his personal life and tried to shame him with his sexual identity about his ability to have a girlfriend and if he is able to satisfy her and be liked by her. What we have here is Girls: A show about pretentious, entitled white 20 something western women….created by a pretentious, entitled 20 something western woman - Truth is stranger than fiction...

  • Guest

    After reading Malloy's report, I understand his question to be: why is there so much nudity from Dunham's character when there is no context for it in the story - NOT why is Dunham naked so often because boy is she unattractive. Surely if nudity is the norm then it would run across all the characters not just Dunham's. I would've been interested to hear Apatow and Dunham's views about this from a creative perspective, but instead Dunham, who does attempt an answer of sorts assumes it's also a personal attack on her body, but Apatow is condescending, personal and rude, never answering the question. However, after the Q&A he says to Malloy 'Lena is confident enough to do it so we have the opportunity to talk about other issues because she is braver than other people.'. Now why couldn't he say that during the Q&A and expand upon the 'other issues', it would've been interesting to hear more but accusing Malloy of not getting it and publicly shaming him seems pointless and unnecessary.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    It's times like these when the chasm between the genre of 'white girl feminism' and 'everyone else's shit' is so keenly felt. I honestly believe that the phenomenon, at least here, believes itself to be inclusive and that it's addressing everyone in discussions like this but after seeing many pieces of this ilk, I'm only saying that from where I'm sitting it is not. It is just not. I know, gird my loins for the onslaught of 'why do you have to make it a race thing?', or 'don't come at me with...' if anyone bothers to read or reply, I likely expect downvotes more than anything. Fine. But at least consider, the self-appointed allies of 'white girl feminism' who I doubt would like to hear me call them that, don't speak this passionately outside of their niche of concern. That can partially be attributed to not knowing what to say or seeing all of the picture which is valid, but whose picture is completely full? Is anyone looking? There is a still a universality to a basic (or double) pursuit of equality and for something that ostensibly doesn't have to do with race there isn't a lot of outrage when the expectation of people to just 'get it' isn't met in regards to some people.

    Recent example: A perceived lack of gratitude or general misanthropy over the Great Yawning Internet's failure to prostrate over the SNL developments quite close to the tune of, 'We threw you a bone, God, why aren't you ever happy?' or, 'God, what other kind of accommodations do we have to make, one's not enough? Affirmative coming, something...something'. Or, if Ms. Dunham were a lady of colour a lot of this, *pepperiness* would be met on some front with 'God, why can't you be nice? This is why you can't have nice things! I guess I'm off the hook for caring' and you know that that kind of attitude gets shamed out of here like bad kale, or whatever Whole Foods is fobbing today. The 'allies' don't allow that. More largely than they know or allow, the allies don't care.

    Why is righteous anger for 'white girl feminism' embittered rage for women of colour? Why is passion and sureness for 'white girl feminism' obstinacy for women of colour? Why don't you see so many instances of someone needing to voice the calming, equalizing, patrician 'Korean Guy Perspective', or what you will, on every topic of 'white girl feminism'?

    But it comes at some point to the messy issues of sexual desirability. That's a whole planet for some in the larger discourse, but for women of colour it rarely ventures outside of the fetishized, or, if you're a specific colour, the animalistic or unfuckable. Can't slut shame someone you'd never give any, amirite? I don't see the point in pretending like it's any different.

    I know it seems random, but it's (still) glaring for a site that prides itself on being the Super Best Number One At Feminism Working For You! website. Whose feminism? Well, movement's only really ever been a table for one, so redundancy alert. I just don't think people realize that even at this bastion of 'post-post-post' enlightenment, someone 'wiser' will always yank that conversation out of the hands of the true hysterics-- the ones who know what they're talking about who just don't know what they're talking about.

    I honestly don't know how many people are reading this thread at this late date. I lurk less frequently now and at night. I certainly don't know how many people of colour are reading yet another one of 'these pieces'--which, of course, have their place--it's just that they increasingly have the scope of Mister Magoo, but if they are, maybe some see what I do, a well-meaning non-reflection of what it thinks it's reflecting. But it's not my website and this is a good website and I don't know if it's reaching for something more inclusive, but like Jerri Blank, I've got something to say. So it's said.

  • criterionstalker

    Apatow and Dunham are quite entitled - they're surrounded by ass-kissers all day and night. It's inconceivable that somebody dare question their "honesty."

  • MikeK.

    So, based on Dunham's response, if you don't find her attractive, you need to "work that out with professionals?" Wow! Sounds like someone's got a rather high opinion of herself.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Really? After the entire article, and 80+ mostly well thought-out comments that clearly explain the issue at hand, that's what you came away with?

  • MikeK.

    I didn't read all the other responses. i dont have the time nor interest to do that. Plus I don't base my responses on what other people think,I prefer to have original thoughts.
    And I know what the "issue" is and it's actually a non issue. Guy asked a question that got everyone all worked up because people are wayyyyyy too sensitive nowadays and they have to twist everything around to suit their own arguments. If you dont believe in gay marriage, you hate all gays. If you comment on someone's lack of grammar, you're racist. If you ask somone about nude scenes you're apparently sexist. If anything, Apatow's response was more offensive as he went after the writers personal life.
    I notice you didn't say my point was incorrect btw.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    You're point is incorrect.

    But since you asked... yes, if you don't believe in gay marriage, you may not hate gays, but you certainly don't view them as deserving of equal rights, which is easily construed as hatred. But that's hardly the focus of this discussion, so let's get to the point.

    Saying that "if you ask someone about nude scenes you're apparently sexist" is completely reductive and also, quite frankly, kind of dumb, and had you bothered to read the comments, you might have learned why. It's not about having original thoughts, it's about giving a shit what other people think and learning to maybe understand them better. But yes, much easier to ignore everyone's opinion and spout off without any context or understanding.

    There are several people who explained why this is a problematic issue quite well, but I'll quote AudioSuede because he did it the most succinctly:

    ... by pairing the question with the Game of Thrones example, saying that the nudity is meant to "excite" people, and then saying that he didn't understand why Lena Dunham is so often naked, he comes right out and says that the reason he's confused isn't because the nudity has no artistic purpose, but because he thinks she's unattractive and he wants her to put her bits away.

    It's not about simply asking why she's naked all the time, even though that's a dumb question too and I doubt he's asking it about actors in ANY other shows. It's about what that question and the way he phrased it says about him and his opinion of her. Apatow's response was perhaps offensive, but it's also because he - and Dunham, and Konner - were all taken aback, upset, and frustrated by the ignorance of the comment, which was in and of itself ignorant.

    I doubt this is going to make any difference in the way you think, but if it does, yay. If it doesn't, well, at least I can say I tried.

  • MikeK.

    I don't get the uproar over the question. Im not sure why the writer of this article is so offended and in attack mode either. Not sexist at all.

  • Guest

    It's funny that he thought he could get away with taking a personal jab at the show creator without some backlash.

    However, I fail to see the sexist applications. It seems like a sleight that he intended to disguise as a question, and it happened to be very thinly-veiled.
    I've never seen the show, so perhaps that lack of context might be where I can't just make the leap.

    Malloy never stated that the nudity in GoT was for "artistic merit". In fact, he bluntly states that it's really obvious who the target demo and intent is with said nudity.
    It's simply there to draw viewers. Again, without having seen the show, I can't say much about Girls and if it's nudity is there for the simple "rubbernecking" factor, or if there is a more refined approach (c'mon, it is HBO).

    Apatow asking if he has a girlfriend has as much merit as the girlfriend's opinion on the matter; she wasn't the one getting insulted, so it has little bearing which way she feels about this.

    Ultimately, it is their show, and they can do whatever they want with it. The critics also reserve the right to praise or deride it on whatever metric (no matter how correct or asinine) they please.

  • I still can't help but be amazed at how often Lena Dunham is asked to justify herself and the things she writes for her show. Does any other show even get close to this level of scrutiny and criticism? It's so fucking bizarre to me. I watched the first season of it and thought it was just OK, whatever, I moved on. It just baffles me how often she gets lambasted for things that other shows do freely and without question. It's like some people are just determined to bring her down for...well, I don't even know why. But it just seems like complete overkill to me.

  • Dunham gets this level of scrutiny and criticism because the level of publicity--every burp and fart of Girls is front page entertainment news--is through the roof. She's asked to justify herself because, it seems to me, her 'artistic' choices are often inexplicable.

  • She's Tim Tebow. Her supporters love her, and her critics don't understand why the media talks about her like she's the greatest thing on earth.

  • After all the gallons of ink spilled on the subject and all the spittle-flecked invective that's been hurled back and forth, I think this might actually be the best explanation of the subject I've ever heard.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I don't think its accurate to call the question "sexist", though I can see why it would offend Judd and Lena once GoT was brought up. Basically, he comes off as saying, "I understand why GoT does it, those chicks are hot."
    I don't find Lena particuarly attractive myself, but I have loved each instance of nudity. here is a creator of a show who isn't asking her performers to do anything else she wouldn't do, for one. also, because people get naked ALL THE FUCKING TIME, and much to my distress 97% of the time real people dont get naked to be titillating or salacious! they do it for very untitillating reasons. And sure, naked ping pong isn't done by most people, but if you have ever been fortunate to have a free all weekend session of sex\love making you will have sprinkled it with naked cereal eating, naked book reading, naking watering the ficus.
    In other words, she gets naked on the show just like she breaths on the show or talks on the show or does something inane on the show. its what people do.
    Also, its HBO for fucks sake.

  • Art3mis

    I agree with all of this except the first sentence, and that's because I doubt that this critic has ever wondered why a man like William H. Macy gets naked on Shameless so much since he does not (with all due respect to Macy, who I love) look like a male underwear model.

  • Lee

    That's the key. The reporter is almost asking directly why there is so much, seemingly, extraneous nudity on the part of Dunham; who, in the reporters estimation, should probably feel embarrassed (because she's a woman?) by her not so GoT body. She's clearly not hot right? So there must be some reason that he (the reporter) is missing.

    I don't get why people can't see the sexist ignorance of that line of questioning. Purposeful or not, how can people not take offense?

  • One of the perks of living by yourself(or with a significant other) is being able to be naked as often as you like. When you don't have to worry about roommates, you'll be surprised at how much time you spend being naked. Hell, you live in the country, you can even wander on outside naked if it's a nice day.

  • cruzzercruz

    Yes, Dustin, something "dumb" as in not agreeing with every single defense of Dunham and this show. Glad you nipped that in the bud!

    Even raising a question about Dunham's nudity in the show is a quick way to have the wrath brought down upon you, but I honestly agree with the tweet. The show's characters are all more insufferable than the last and by the end of season two, all humor had fallen to the wayside. If she were naked a few times a season during times that make sense, less people would care (Even though some would still attack her body just to do it). But she doesn't, it's almost a game in itself to set your watch and wait to see when she gets nude this episode and mentally check it off. "Oh wow, twice this time? And no sex scenes? Really swinging for the fences this week." It doesn't add anything to the plot other than awkwardness, which I guess is this show's bread and butter.

    So there you go, a defense for her nudity. It makes some people feel awkward, which is in the spirit of this often cringe inducing show about awkward people.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    If he had asked a question about the escalation of nudity in the show, or why it's mostly nudity...those would've been different, NEW, questions. (and ones not framed as if the only "artistic" reason for nakedness is "titillation.")

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    First of all, conversations about the humor of the show versus her nudity are two completely separate conversations, and it's embarrassing that you don't get that.

    Second, the very fact that her nudity makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable says far less about the show itself and far more about you as a person.

    Third, as far as cable television is concerned, there are dozens of shows that have what could be argued as excessive or plentiful nudity - Game of Thrones, Masters of Sex, Dexter, Shameless, and that's just cracking the surface. So what is it about this one that annoys you so? Is it simply because you don't find her to be conventionally attractive? If that's the case, then you're basically saying that unattractive people have no place on television - or should at least keep their clothes on - in which case you're kind of a shallow jerk.

  • cruzzercruz

    Man, you've sure got me pegged! Just your average shallow dude here.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Well, I'm just glad we finally found something to agree on.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Well, I'm just glad to see you here again.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Madam, you are as always too kind.

  • Emm82

    I have to admit, I haven't seen the show - not really my kind of thing, saw half of 1 and let it go. But I do know people who are nude a lot at home, and those who aren't. There's just so many different behaviours and considering some of those, maybe a fairly average looking woman naked instead of Elle MacPherson is certainly not at the bottom of the barrel so to speak? It's quite nice to remind ourselves that we don't have to look perfect, no matter your gender. I don't see misogyny though, just stupidity.

  • Shannon

    **Off topic** You reminded me I haven't seen Sirens in a long time. Yum.
    Maybe Tim Malloy should stick to reviewing things more like Sirens. He may not be able to grasp any deeper messages in the film (and I haven't seen it in a long long time so I'm not sure there are many) but there are lots of pretty boobies for him to critique on a level he "gets".
    And I PROMISE I am not trying to start any debate over the value of nudity in that movie. I'm simply reminiscing, expressing my personal preference for the film, and making yet another snarky remark about a guy who seems to be in the wrong line of work.

  • Emm82

    Lol, Elle MacPherson & snarky comments are why I come back :)

  • UglyBattery

    The title of this article should be, "Three self-important Hollywood representatives hysterically overreact when asked a clumsily worded, yet entirely reasonable question about nudity."

  • Lee

    Or, "Reporter asks Judd Apatow why Lena Dunham would want to get naked on screen so much because she's not as hot as the naked girls on GoT; and some people on the internet wonder why offense was taken."

  • Art3mis

    There are a whole lot of people in the comments here saying that they thought that question was fine because the critic just honestly doesn't understand the use of nudity/people just aren't naked that much in real life/Girls is only using nudity to get a reaction from its critics. And I could almost buy that -- if he hadn't built into his question the premise that GoT's use of nudity is an understandable and artistic decision.

    I love GoT as much as the next person, but it absolutely just throws hot naked ladies up on screen for absolutely no reason at all except to have hot naked ladies on screen. If this critic thinks that kind of pointless nudity is fine and not a big deal -- which is cool, he's entitled to think that -- then he has absolutely no grounds for complaining that nudity on Girls is pointless because THERE IS NO POINT TO THE NUDITY ON GoT.

    The only way to distinguish the two situations, as the critic helpfully pointed out, is that the GoT nudity features conventionally attractive women being naked for the purpose of turning on male (and some female) viewers. Which carries the implication that Lena Dunham's nudity is pointless because ew, she's not attractive, and women shouldn't show their bodies unless they are attractive. Do people really not see how that's an offensive thing to say (much less TO HER FACE)?

    And that's not even getting into the myriad ways that Dunham's nudity might, indeed, have a point. I don't watch Girls so I won't try to comment on that, but I've read enough articles about her nakedness to know that there are a number of perfectly reasonable artistic interpretations of her decision to show her body a lot on that show. Most critics would not, when faced with an artistic decision that has been the subject of a lot of critical discussion, announce that they can't even begin to understand it and want the showrunner to spell it out for them in small words. But it's just unfathomable to this critic that there could be some reason for non-titillating nudity, and he wants the whole world to know it.

  • Guest

    Said it better than I possibly could have.

  • NateMan

    I don't disagree with you that GoT was a terrible example. It was. But then that show seems pretty much like a soap opera with dragons and boobs to me. And it was phrased, very badly.

    But I disagree that the question itself was offensive, or that his ignorance as to why she is often nude is in itself is offensive. I don't think ignorance is offensive, until and unless it becomes willful. Getting a reasonable answer about something, be it nudity in television or gay marriage or feminism or whatever else, and then taking pride in blowing off the answer you're giving for your own, that's offensive. And I didn't get the sense that was what he was doing.

    As I said, I get why Dunham might have responded the way she did. And I do find her attractive - she doesn't look that different than a good proportion of the women I've slept with and greatly enjoyed doing so. I do think having nudity in media that doesn't meet our norms of beauty is important. But Malloy's question/statement pales in comparison to much of the criticism that's been leveled at Dunham's appearance and frequent nudity. And for me that's an important distinction. He didn't say she was unattractive or shouldn't be naked, not in the article I read. He asked why she was. He did so badly, but many of us babble.

    Now, if at some point he DID become offensive with it, I'd happily call him out on it. This event? IMO it didn't happen.

  • shoebox

    There's nothing inherently wrong with the question "why is your character naked so often?” aside from the fact that many writers have already addressed it and provided perfectly plausible reasons. Maybe Dunham has herself, I don't know. (Oh and the other thing with the question is the way it reveals how deeply uncomfortable we are with nudity, even though it happens so frequently that it should hardly even be considered interesting. But that's not an offensive notion - just a silly one.)

    The problem lies in the way Malloy sets out his question.

    "I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason."

    He says he understands why GoT has so much nudity, because it is so very, very sexy, you see. Then his next statement is linguistically a contrast to the previous one. Her character "is often nude at random times for no reason." On their own, I probably wouldn’t disagree with either sentence.
    But the order they are in and the way he connects them suggests he views the two as opposing circumstances.

    He gets the nudity in GoT because it has sex appeal. But he
    can't see the "artistic reason" for the nudity in Girls. Do
    you see how he is connotatively linking the purpose of nakedness in television with titillation? When he declares that Dunham’s nudity is without reason, he is suggesting that her naked body is not and cannot be titillating.

    Sorry if you got that already. I’m about to get to the point, I swear.

    That comment is so offensive that he surrendered any entitlement to a serviceable answer. You have to treat someone with dignity if you want them to give you something, even if it’s merely a response. The question you keep asking is different to the one he asked, regardless of whether it’s all in the phrasing.

    Also he’s just being totally thick for not realising that you can be naked without it being sexual.

  • NateMan

    I get what you're saying, I really do, and I appreciate the answer. I just disagree with it. :)

  • shoebox

    Okay then, no worries. ;)

  • Art3mis

    I don't think what he said was the worst thing (or even close to it) that's been said about her nudity. That doesn't mean it wasn't a gross question, though.

    I don't think that all questions that come from ignorance are non-offensive, and I actually really like your comparison to gay issues. Let's say this critic had asked Ang Lee, "I just don't understand why you included a sex scene in Brokeback Mountain. I mean, I understand why other movies include sex scenes between men and women, they're titillating and that totally makes sense. But your scene just seemed random and pointless." Would you really not find that offensive?

  • NateMan

    I would think it a stupid and ignorant question, because I think the answer is obvious, but I wouldn't find it offensive. It's a question a lot of people would ask, and more importantly it's an opportunity for a really great answer. I guess it depends on whether your goal is to educate or shame people for admitting ignorance. The former makes things better. The latter creates resentment.

  • Art3mis

    If you also think the Dunham question was stupid and ignorant, I don't really think we're disagreeing about anything here except the definition of the word "offensive."

    In many cases, I agree that educating people is good. But there is a point at which people are no longer just innocently ignorant and are instead wilfully so. There have been TWO YEARS of ad nauseum discussions of how naked Dunham is on Girls and why she's naked on Girls and how people feel about her being naked on Girls. If this guy had asked his question (minus the GoT comparison) at the beginning of season 1, I don't think it would have received such a strong reaction. But at this point, no critic that pays even the tiniest amount of attention to the critical discussions about shows he is covering could possibly have missed all of the many explanations and discussions of what meaning Dunham's nudity has. He's not asking the question because he's just so befuddled and can't find an answer elsewhere. He's asking the question because he dismissed as invalid the explanations he's already encountered, because they weren't about turning him on.

  • NateMan

    But I don't think his question was stupid (admittedly poorly phrased). Ignorant, yes, but that's something else entirely. I think the question about Brokeback Mountain would be stupid because it'd be missing the entire point of the movie. What's the point of Girls? Is that people are naked sometimes, or is there other stuff going on? If you have the opportunity to ask a creator a question about their work, are you not supposed to ask merely because that answer is already out in the ether? Are we supposed to just take someone else's word for it, or can we question it ourselves? Celebrity interviews would suddenly become a lot less common - actually, now that I think about it, that might not be such a terrible idea.

    Bottom line: Malloy asked what I consider a reasonable question really poorly, and Apatow and Dunham decided to respond with snark (Apatow's girlfriend remark in particular) rather than anything useful. It's a missed opportunity.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    mmmmmm...Maybe watch the show before you decide whether specific questions about it have any validity. Because you are doing a lot of debating without most of the necessary information. And I totally get that, I wade into it all the time, I love devil's advocate and hypothetical situations, but watch the show.

  • Art3mis

    It took me less than a minute on google to find half a dozen interviews with Dunham in the last year in which she is asked about, and explains, why her character gets naked on Girls. This is what I mean about this critic's willful ignorance -- the question has been asked and answered over and over again.

    It's not that he doesn't know why she's doing it. It's that he doesn't think her reasons are good ones. And as he made very clear with his question, that disagreement stems from the fact that he doesn't think she's hot enough to get naked on TV.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    We made basically the same point, but I'm upvoting the shit out of this because you did it much more clearly.

  • Hesitant to wade into this, but the question, while inarticulately worded, feels in-bounds to me. There's a perception (fair or not), that season 2 of Girls moved from a smart examination of white privilege to more of Lena Dunham trolling her critics. The nudity was part of that. "Oh, you guys don't get why I'm naked all the time? Here's more superfluous nudity. You think all the characters are annoying? Well now they're going to be even bigger caricatures of themselves." If Dunham and Co. are going to go that route -- or are perceived to be going that route -- those questions are fair game, IMO. Tim Malloy isn't the first person to posit that theory, either.

    Apatow's response about Malloy's GF was more offensive than Malloy's question, and I think both Dunham and Konner took more umbrage to the question than was necessary. But I also think his question really doesn't serve much of a purpose, either. Was the answer the that question the key piece to a story he's working on? Doubtful. What response was Malloy hoping for? Probably something along these exact lines I imagine. So yet again, nobody wins.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Here's where Malloy fucks up:

    "I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason.”

    The implications there are that a) those are perfectly legitimate artistic reasons, which is debatable - and I can safely make that assumption about his opinion because he later on says "I just don’t get the artistic reason for it," implying that he does get the "artistic" reason for it on "Game Of Thrones." And b) he's essentially (and rather obnoxiously) saying that Dunham is neither salacious nor titillating, which has been the crux of the whole stupid, insulting, brainlessly sexist argument against "Girls" in the first place.

    Dunham's naked because she's naked. Because people are naked in real life, and good, bad, or indifferent, "Girls" is supposed to be about people's real lives and all the warts and banalities and idiocy that goes with it. I would perhaps even argue that in that sense, there's more artisitic integrity to her nudity than there is to that in "GoT." It's as if to say that simply the desire to be "salacious and titillating" somehow has more artistic merit that Dunham's nudity on "Girls," which is bullshit.

    It's a loaded, stupid, pointless, and yes, insulting question. And I don't even like "Girls" and quite frankly, I find Dunham to be grating and annoying. But damn it, Tim Malloy, you've made me defend it anyway, you dumb donkey.

  • shoebox

    Thank you for saying all the things I was gearing myself up to rant about! Particularly the part about the question being rude because it implies that Lena Dunham's nudity is neither salacious nor titillating, and therefore, without purpose.

    The only thing I'd add is that surely one of Dunham's aims was to show a body that doesn't fit societal demands of beauty, and show it regularly. Because popular culture tends to display naked curvy women as either sources of derision or romantic non-entities. And that's kinda fucked up.

  • I was shocked when I saw Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz when MIchelle Williams is swimming with a lot of other women and changing in the room together, there was full frontal nudity which you would see where you all get in and out of your bathing suits. I just never expected it and there was nothing sexual about it at all. It was a longish shot but detailed. And yet in a movie it felt shocking to me because I had never seen it before like that. Just naked women changing and talking with each other while they do it. And why the fug should that be shocking at all! And it is because you never see it. And you never see it because movie directors are primarily men who use female nudity for erotic purposes. (I don't have a TV so I haven't watched this show.)

  • JenVegas

    Thank you! I was just trying to compose my thoughts but I see you were in my brain and did it for me. Well said.

  • I have a question for Ms. Konner: Do you think using the phrase 'rage spiral' in reference to your reaction to a clumsy, half-assed question posed to someone else by an entertainment journalist makes you look like a hysteric? Or is it a completely normal response and not at all a histrionic over-reaction?

  • Art3mis

    Ah, yes. The classic move of calling a woman hysteric and histrionic because she got angry about something. Well played, sir.

  • It's not that she got angry, it's the extent and the subject matter. She's not 'angry' and it wasn't about anything important or meaningful. She was in a 'rage spiral' because some flack asked somebody else(it wasn't even her) a stupid question. If that's the way she reacts to petty annoyances visited upon third parties, God forbid anything actually happen to her, she'll stroke out.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    I would hazard that given how much bullshit the show and its creators have had to address since its inception, it's substantially more than a "petty annoyance."

  • I'm not in the entertainment business, which I suppose spares y'all from deep, thoughtful discussions of whether or not my hairy ass should be displayed in stunning HD(it probably shouldn't). But I would think that dumbasses asking the same dumbassed questions over and over again in slightly different ways would be such a constant fixture in the business that it would rise to exactly that.

  • Lee


    Calling a woman "hysterical" has a deeper and darker cultural meaning.

  • Diane Rubenstein refers to men as hysterical. Geo Bush I for example in her This Is Not A President where she goes Lacan and post modern through American presidents. Teaches political science at Cornell and she is very very funnny as well as awesomely smart.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Yeah, I've seen the word used on more than one comment and winced each time. I'm trying not to overreact, but there really is an unpleasant connotation to using "hysterical".

  • Lee

    In this case I don't think it was intentional, but it could be read that way.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth


  • shoebox

    Don't you think her use of the phrase "rage spiral" might have been slightly ironic? Or if not quite that, hyperbolic?

    She got mad about something and exaggerated. This has never occurred before in all of human history.

  • Art3mis

    I think you might be getting a little hysterical about the use of the phrase "rage-spiral," which was not, I suspect, meant to indicate that she was about to hulk-out on the critic.

  • Guest

    Men don't get hysterical. There's always a logical reason don't forget!

  • Armond White is my master now

    Of course the nudity is justified. It's the only way to attract heterosexual male viewers to this awful show. But for the life of me, I can't understand why Lena Dunham still thinks her naked body is beautiful. She's like a tumbling walrus!

  • If this is some sort of har-har-I'm-so-clever "satire" it's failing miserably. If it's sincere, it's worse because it's bullshit like this that feeds a lot of the nonsense on the other side of the argument. It's not smart, it's not entertaining, and worst of all, it's not funny.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Since the troller used "Armond White" in his(?) Disqus name...feel free to ignore.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    This is kind of funny after Mindy explained how her lovers never "see" her naked on the Mindy Project... and the whole Elle magazine thing. Everyone is different and everyone feels differently about their own body.

  • Davis

    not sexist at all, she gets naked because she knows it will get publicity. The question wasn't rude at all but god forgive that a day will go by with someone not being accused of being sexist. He didn't call her fat or ugly just a bunch of adults to sensitive for questions that don't involve total praise.

    Also how was that tweet at the bottom dumb? For not liking girls? SEXIST!!!!!!!!! Cool off dustin

  • AudioSuede

    Man, why do dudes get accused of being sexist all the time? It's like you can't ask a 23-year-old award-winning television writer why her tits are out all the time because she isn't as hot as the chicks on Game of Thrones without someone getting all up in your shit! Thanks Obamacare!

  • Davis

    He didn't say that so don't twist words you typical hypersensitive internet commenter.

    Also i'm not american so your totally original 'Thanks Obamacare!' isn't relevant to me at all and she's 27 if you're going to be a smartypants at least fact check sunshine. Awards mean fuck all anyway e.g TBBT

  • Mrs. Julien

    Oh, honey.

  • Davis

    no need to patronize me i know your opinion is better than mine

  • Mrs. Julien

    Not better, just different, less shrill, and more self-aware, also 46% more grammatically correct.

  • Davis

    Shrill over a screen you can tell? Sorry i didn't know this was an exam i thought it was a comment section, sorry for fucking up. I'll take your patronzing tone as a hint to go back to school and never say say anything negative about Queen Dunham again

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Well, at least you're not being a passive-aggressive, petulant child about it.

  • Davis

    not being petulant at all

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Oh, honey.

  • Davis

    oh sweetheart just stop

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You get an upvote only for the Thanks Obamacare! (but you missed HOMO RonPaul2012.)

  • Damn you, Tim Malloy, for making me read another "Girls" story.

  • NateMan

    I can agree with that. I've read more articles about this show that I don't watch than I have most of my actual entertainment.

  • I will lay myself willingly on the downvote altar to say this, but... I'm just a leetle, leeeetle-bit on this guy's side. Yes, he asked an insensitive question, because the obvious implication of what he said was, "GOT nudity is salacious and titillating [translation: hot] whereas you being naked is...not." So, yeah, boo to you, buddy, for letting your mouth get ahead of your brain. Smooth.

    But why a show employs more nudity than other shows is a valid question, to which any number of valid answers could have been given and accepted: the character is comfortable naked and I want to portray her as naturally and truthfully as possible; I AM making a feminist/humanist point about being comfortable in one's own body regardless of conformity to media norms; I want to shock people and get their attention and spark a conversation about this; etc., etc.

    I don't watch Girls and freely admit that being sick to death of Lena Dunham - of whom I see and hear more than people in the shows I do watch - could be fueling my eyerolling, here. But really, why is that anytime someone asks a question we don't like, we have to jump up their ass with the labels? Sometimes a thoughtless question is just a thoughtless question. Doesn't make the guy evil, doesn't justify Apatow's attack, and certainly didn't deserve a "rage spiral."

  • NateMan

    Here's the thing - and, before I start, let me stipulate I've never watched the show and probably won't, because I don't have HBO. I don't think the question, on the face of it, was terribly dumb or offensive. I think it fits pretty well with Daniel Carlson's article the other day about manufactured outrage.

    Yes, there's a lot of nudity. The critic didn't understand why. He posed the question. There's nothing offensive about asking the question. He didn't say "Why is your character such a slut?" He asked "Why is she naked so often?" The answer "Because people are naked a lot and we're striving for realism" seems like it should be the end of the discussion. Saying it's misogynistic and offensive to ask questions... Well, that's shutting down the conversation rather than establishing dialogue. I love Apatow, and have no opinion on Dunham, but I don't think it was handled well.

    I should add that I understand why Dunham would respond that way. Certainly there have been plenty of dumb and misogynistic statements about her nudity. But this really wasn't one of them. Nothing about that quote is offensive. When you say "I don't understand" rather than "This is stupid\slutty\whatever", it's an opportunity for education.

  • AudioSuede

    But by pairing the question with the Game of Thrones example, saying that the nudity is meant to "excite" people, and then saying that he didn't understand why Lena Dunham is so often naked, he comes right out and says that the reason he's confused isn't because the nudity has no artistic purpose, but because he thinks she's unattractive and he wants her to put her bits away.

  • NateMan

    We disagree on that. You think that's what he did; I don't. I think what he was saying that GoT nudity is put there to boost ratings and excite people, and Dunham is on record as saying that's not what her nudity is for and so he's asking why it is. Maybe I'm just giving him more credit than he's worth, I dunno. I've never heard of the guy before today, so I could be completely wrong.

  • AudioSuede

    There are several points to be made about why his question is bullshit, but the main one I have is that by defending himself as "a TV critic," he's essentially misrepresenting his job. It's not that hard to interpret the purpose of the nudity on the show, and it's not like Lena Dunham has never addressed it before publicly. But more generally, how often do TV critics ask the purpose of an artistic choice? He should come up with his own interpretation, because that's what his job is, not go up to the artist, negatively compare their work to another artist's work, and then ask what the deal is. That's unprofessional, and frankly it implies that he's bad at his job.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Ah ha! Now that's a legitimate possibility, though I disagree. But even if you're right, he sounded like an asshole for the way he phrased it, and just because you didn't mean to sound like an asshole doesn't mean that you didn't sound like an asshole. And so Apatow is correct - he basically should go home and think about what he's done.

  • shoebox

    How did you manage to say that so succinctly when it took me several paragraphs?

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    This. Jesus, why is this so hard to understand?

  • I do watch Girls (frankly I kind of love it) and have had this same conversation with the spouse, "Why is she naked all the time?" Maybe I'm a prude, or maybe I just live in New England where it's too damn cold to play naked ping pong, but we're never naked to the degree that her character is. Is the whole world playing naked ping pong and we're just missing out?

    I think it's a valid question - why so naked? And if the honest answer is - because it's realistic I have to call foul. I wasn't nearly that naked at 23 and have a hard time believing that the current crop of 23 year old girls are into naked ping pong.

    The scene where she's effectively clubbing topless while high on coke works because it speaks to just how detached she is from reality, both in general and now to a heightened degree due to all the coke. She's also snorting coke off a public toilet seat (something that can only seem like a good idea when already high on coke). So there are definitely scenes where the nudity is actually a very clever storytelling device.

    But so many other scenes - like where she's taking a shower, or sleeping on top of covers or what have you, they would work just as effectively with a different camera angle or some actual pajamas.

    Durnham has taken a lot of horrific, mean-spirited, and down right misogynistic flack about her body and I hate that she's had to take it. But I don't think this question is part of that.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I would say that way past the age of 23, I have engaged in very casual, non-sexual activities naked. With and without other people. And I sometimes sleep on top of the covers naked, especially in July in a non-AC apartment. I am most certainly not a model. It's just how I live.

  • JJ

    Because one person's portrayal on a TV show doesn't need to be a depiction of all 23 year old girls, nor does it necessarily reflect your anecdotal experiences.

    It says everything that people don't bat an eyelash at someone doing coke or at violence, but need artistic justification for nudity because it's not the norm despite literally everyone being around nudity every day.

  • Kala

    I sip on this sort of gossip as though it's a fine wine. I couldn't stop snort-laughing. Apatow's reaction was delightfully bitchy, but Konner's reaction wins all the gold stars because I can relate to getting that pissed on someone else's behalf: "I was just looking at him looking at him and going into this rage..." I like to think that tables were thrown shortly after.

  • One might also have the opinion she entered a "rage spiral" to the "offense" of asking a relatively simple question in order to get some of that hot offensiveness for herself.

  • I love the idea of a site self-censoring comments before any are made. Good job, good effort guys! That's the percolatin' of new and different thoughts that make the internet commenting so great, rather than the confirmation bias most sites practice. WELL DONE.

    The reason why Apatow et al., pointed and sputtered at the question (which was a fair question) is because...well, they may not want to give away their comedy secrets. I don't think the show would not be materially changed because we see less of Lena Dunham's boobs. But attacking the questioner is an easier way to not have to look a good look inside yourself to see *why* you do things (or reveal your secrets).

    My opinion means very little, but I think Judd Apatow finds non-attractive, non-titillating nudity hilarious, especially of the male variety. Jason Segel's flaccid dong? Hilarious. Paul Rudd's/Seth Rogen's ass? Awesome. It's non-sexual, so it's funny (to him). While I may not agree, I think Apatow could've explained that and not come off like a hyper-sensitive douchebag, attributing motives to the questions that may not have been there - but again, who wants to say "I was the first to make flaccid dong funny - that's my competitive advantage?"

  • ShellyDanile

    I agree with this comment (although maybe not the way that it was worded). Ending an article with "Oh, and before anyone in the comments gets the idea that they’d like to add something dumb into the conversation, someone in Twitter has already taken care of it for you" is a cheap way to deter criticism for an article that, I hope, was meant to foster debate instead of being yet another "Pajiba is reminding you that sexism is bad" soapbox.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    I don't know that he's saying "don't have a conversation" as much as he's saying "don't be an ignorant asshole about it."

  • I don't see a lot of "ignorant asshole" IQ 80 types hanging around here. He knows what he means, and there are fenced off areas that implicitly say "Don't go there." This sites' audience can handle harsh differences of opinion on matters or race, sex, IQ and the like. They question is do they, or the site owners want to. The answer is often "no".

  • AudioSuede

    Part of the problem is Dustin also writes for Uproxx, where anti-feminist dickbags come out of the woodwork any time the words "Lena" and "Dunham" are strung together. Seriously, there are some awful awful people in those comment threads.

  • This isn't Uproxx, though. You could apply a fair number of more or less accurate descriptors to the commentors here, but 'anti-feminist' would not be one of them. When you tack a postscript like that onto a post designed to engender a heated discussion, it comes across as somewhat defensive.

  • Yossarian

    It also subverts the way nudity is typically used in entertainment. The guy who asked the question actually had the import pieces there he was just incapable of connecting them. Even if sex or nakedness are integral to the story there's never any real reason that breasts and other body parts have to be in the shot, lingered upon for our viewing pleasure. Yes, there's a reason. Other shows do it to be salacious and titillate people. Is that the only reason? The only function tits can serve? The stupidity of his question is the obliviousness and the inability to think this through just a little more before speaking. Which is why the people on the panel basically told him to go home and think about what he did.

    Subverting expectations and using storytelling and entertainment tropes in unexpected ways can function as a form of criticism of those expectations. Would he complain or ask the question at all if one of the more conventionally pretty actresses was naked on screen for no reason? If they show was pandering to convention instead of subverting it? Of course not. He admits as much. But it's not a trap, dude. It's provoking you toward critical thinking. It's just a shame you're not up to it.

    And in addition to providing a masturbation break in the middle of a particularly boring Game of Thrones episode, there may actually be other reasons to use nudity in television and film. Nudity can be used to humanize characters. As Dunham says, it's " a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive." An opportunity to reveal character (pun intended). Hanna's insecurities and personality flaws and emotional problems are explicitly right out in the open, that's the intention of the show we are watching. Having her physical insecurities and flaws and vulnerabilities also presented explicitly and unadorned is pretty clearly an extension of that theme.

    Jason Segel's flaccid dong in a movie is provocative and surprising and, yes, funny., it's there to shock you initially, but then the movie attempts to fill in that shocked space with empathy for the character's vulnerability, to make the awkwardness of the situation more real, to heighten the discomfort of the viewer by adding embarrassment. And it's silly and absurd and you could reduce it to a glorified prop gag. You can say it doesn't work for you, you don't find it funny or impactful. You can even say it backfired and distracted you from the emotional significance of the scene because Aptow couldn't resist a funny penis. That's all fine. But for a television critic to be completely unable to imagine a reason for nudity in a show other than to make his dick hard, and to bluntly ask the actress/writer if it's some kind of trap that's she's naked all the time for no reason... it's just dumb. dumb, dumb, dumb.

  • Couple of small points, well put overall.

    1.) Asking questions in a public forum to stars like Apatow & Dunham can be a nerve-wracking experience. I know for me (and I am not even a critic!) my heart races and I get nervous. Maybe he didn't write his question down and think through it. As you said, the strains of a good question are there, but execution is at best a D. But that's still no reason for Apatow and co to "cop a 'tude". Leads me to believe Tim hit on something deeper.

    2.) Apatow and Dunham have used non-nudity as a tool as well. I lament, from a purely horndog standpoint, why Alison Williams tip-toes up to the line, but purposefully (almost to tease the audience) NEVER goes over to showing her naughty bits. Is there a character-based reason for that? Is Marnie someone who refuses to commit to something fully? Or is because her contract says no T&A?

    3.) The critic said "random nudity" - meaning there's a lot. 7 scenes of her topless for a sum total of 30+ minutes (I made that up, but it's probably not too far off; think the mesh shirt/drug bacchanal episode) may be overkill when 2 or less can suffice. There's making a point, then there's, for lack of a better term, shoving it in the audience's face. Not saying Apatow is doing that, but comedy often finds laughs in that which discomforts its audience. Playing up that discomfort for laughs (and, course, the loftier "character exposition") then going nuclear on those who point it out (albeit awkwardly) maybe telling us what we need to know.

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