Hey they gave out Girls early this week, yay! Then I don't have to do it after the Oscars and I don't have to choose; I love you Girls but I also have to see Moonlight get it's due (although it probably won't ). Rolling American B*tch after the break!
We open with Hannah (Lena Dunham) coming to see Chuck Palmer (Matthew Ryhs) in a swank place and we know she's nervous because she spends far too long trying to make sure her 4 bobby pins and three elastics are properly in place. Girl. You need a real hairstyle. And actual pants. Am I enforcing the patriarchy on another woman right now? My bad, do you, schlump.
She gets to Chuck's abode; shoes off please! Well, of course, honestly, who walks around in someone else's house with their outdoor footwear on? RUDE. But he has a lot of specific rules about how shoes are meant to be lined up and what they can and cannot touch. Almost as many rules as there are books of his lying around, he's done well, huh? I'm counting at least 10 bestsellers? But as many awards, too, so he's an artist and a friend of Toni Morrison's, too.
It starts awkwardly; she wrote an article about him for a "feminist niche" site and right now he's being hyper-vigilant, but don't worry. He doesn't want an apology. Er. He wants to get his side of WHAT story out there?
It seems Mr. Important Writer has been banging his way through middle American's college student population; I'm with him: who f*cking cares if he's throwing down with groupies? The word consensual comes up, which freaks him out and leads the rhetorical question: how does one receive a non-consensual blowjob?
Hannah proceeds to demonstrate while he and I watch with horrified fascination; there is really one only way to get a non-consensual blowjob and it's fear. Not the least bit funny and doesn't involve the words "chokey" or "handlebars", fanks Hannah.
He takes a call from the mother of at least one child during; Hannah makes use of the time to search his house and rub his TP on her privates.
She returns as he wraps up his (far too personal to hold in front of a stranger) call with his ex; her questions send him into the kitchen and we're into the thick of it.
In fact, we were in so deep I forgot to write about anything and had to go back over it again. The crux of the matter is: 4 women have come forth and accused Chuck of using his power and influence to attain head by false means. He thinks they were writing groupies looking for an experience, which he gave them, but Hannah sees it differently. Those women weren't looking for an experience to write about, but rather a chance to be seen by someone they admired. He takes it out and what are they supposed to do?
I think they're BOTH right, but I disagree that he did anything wrong. Yes, these women wanted to be seen, all four of them, but blowing a stranger for attention isn't the blowee's fault. That's a crapshoot at best, ask Monica Lewinsky if you're unsure. People typically dig oral favours; thinking you're going to move into a famous author's swank pad because of a five minute mouth hug is delusional. Yes he dipped into the honeypot well with his fame, but he asked grown women to accompany him to his room, not children, and there was no force, physical or implied, so I'm having a hard time seeing where she's going with this.
She had a teacher like that, though, who thought she was a great writer, smart, funny, he complimented her all the time and she loved it. It made her feel special. Him rubbing her neck and caressing her scalp: less so. But these women aren't 11, and they aren't beholden to Chuck for a grade or a review themselves.
He thinks it's like the Salem witch hunts except
He and Hannah take turns reading from a passage he wrote about Denise, the instigator of the sleaze claims. He felt she was lovely, lonely and separate from everyone; he thinks his only transgression was to be like everyone else and not push hard enough to get to know her. Because it was she who kept him at arm's length before pulling off his old belt and worshiping at the altar.
He sees in Hannah a chance at redemption; he can push through a be a good human and ask about the other person he's spending time with as though he thinks they matter and everything.
Can he? Can he push through and ask her questions about her life? Where is she from?! And we're off; I'm mostly hoping she doesn't sleep with him because she admires him. What does she want to do in 5 years?
And then he leads her down the path; what happens later? She writes, she gets famous then what? People think they know stuff about her and then yeah. She made him the face of this epidemic but now she knows better and she should; she's not a journalist. She's "a f*cking writer" and I can't even imagine how that would feel coming from someone whose work she admires so much. I once had a real-honest-to-god writer read my recaps and after I stopped apologizing (Canadian) and cringing, I re-read his praise over and over and over and over and over and over and yeah: I get the mouth hug as reward.
They're in his bedroom now, looking at signed first editions of Philip Roth books, she knows she shouldn't read him (misogynist) but he counters "you can't let politics dictate what you read or who you f*ck." Or how you f*ck, for that matter. She hopes that someday someone will write a whole book about how she's a c*nt, but she doesn't figure she'll be that lucky. Be careful what you wish for, lady.
Hannah heard that the alternate title of "When She Was Good" was "American B*tch" but she can neither confirm or deny on the internet. He offers her the Roth, then asks her to lie down with him, fully clothed so he can feel close to someone. She gets into bed clutching the Roth and he rolls over...to lay his erect penis on her leg.
Okay Girls, we're almost square after the frontals in episode one! That is a full, erect human-like penis on Hannah's leg! She grabs it, he moans and it's just like Hannah said earlier. He's a famous and respected author, showering her with attention and compliments: payment was due in the form of a naked penis squeeze.
Hannah jumps up and freaks out, but his face tells me this was planned all along. He deliberately led her gently down this garden path, when she already KNEW he'd done this before, and still, she fell for it.
Then his daughter walks in, PUT IT AWAY, CHUCK!!! Miranda (Caroline Watters) is a beautiful young woman who has a flute piece she's been working on, does Hannah (creeping out the door) want to hear? Hannah is flattered by the attention, of course she does!
Hannah goes from humiliated and meek to angry, watching Chuck enjoy his daughter's flute recital of Desperado. She walks out as Rhianna takes over the music and we watch a stream of women walk into Chuck's apartment building: old, young, all sizes and shapes. And so the world runs, women throwing themselves onto the altar of famous white men who lead.
That was a really interesting episode, as the quiet ones tend to be. Less slapstick than last week and with the intensity of a play. It reminded me of Oleanna, from Shosh's dad David Mamet. I usually canea stand David Mamet (his dialogue is the WORST) but it's a power struggle in three acts between a professor and a student who has accused him of impropriety. Hannah was those women by proxy.
I have a hard time accepting that the scenario as written is unfair; these women on the book tour came to Chuck Palmer's personal space as adults because they wanted something. Whether it be recognition or to have their gag reflexes tested: they definitely were there by choice. And he wanted something too, it seems his directness worked better for him. Hannah wanted him to like her, to respect her work and her opinion; I was alarmed when she accepted the signed first edition of a book. Not that you can't accept presents from strangers, but from one who described himself as "horny as a motherf*cker with the impulse control of a toddler" seems unwise to me.
Or have I got this all wrong? What he did with Hannah was definitely not okay; but I can't say exactly why. You should absolutely not rub your naked genitals on someone else without consent; isn't that what he did? Is that what he did with everyone else? That's not what it sounded like with Denise; according to his story she led the charge. I think we can safely say that isn't true, since what Hannah said mid-rant about the other three women is pretty much exactly what happened: he whips it out during a discussion when they feel as thought they're being heard, seen, admired: they don't know how to react and end up fellating their former hero. It could happen. What's your opinion?
The ending is the most important part; streams and streams of women coming into his orbit to be be unwitting victims of frottage as he likes. How does that not happen? How can people (women especially) stop seeking approval in corporeal form; to trust themselves and their own talents and not deify wordy bastages with iffy impulse control? Because it's almost too easy for the wordy bastages, isn't it?
I just read a great book called The Fixers about the beginning of movie making and a couple of fixers from MGM. It was an interesting book, but I had to stop and shout every once in awhile about the rampant inequities in the system for women. Like they say in Grease, women had to put out before they even got in. Not one of the studio heads-cum-gods at the time didn't play that game; they dipped into the honeypot well daily: dehumanizing. We still vilify the women who "play that game" while giving the dudes free passes as "being men."
I don't know, I'll have to ask Lauren Groff (author of Fates and Furies, one of the best books I've read lately) if she has a bunch of groupies following her that she shares "experiences" with as her due.
Bottom line: Chuck Palmer as the poster child for creepy famous male author is just as it should be and maybe we SHOULD f*cking care who he's banging on tour, at least to the point where maybe he keeps it in his f*cking pants unless invited to put on a puppet show. Until next time!
One more thing: Lena Dunham also directed the first episode of season six, so whatever I was yapping on about last time about her directing should be ignored.