“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.”
That is, according to The Wrap's Tim Molloy, the question he asked Lena Dunham at a press event for the third season of HBO's Girls. That's his transcription. I want to get that out of the way because it's important to let you read it before I talk about my feelings on it.
JESUS CHRIST, MOLLOY.
There's a lot wrong with this question, which made producer Judd Apatow pretty (rightfully) mad. On the most basic civilized level this question is asking "Lena, why are you naked so often even though you're not attractive to look at?" It's stunningly rude as phrased, the kind of phrasing that makes you wonder how this guy isn't getting popped in the mouth on the regular. I mean, for fuck's sake.
But lets' take it back a step. Perhaps Molloy was having a brain cloud or something and the question came out so very, very wrong. It's happened to me. I've asked questions that, in my head, sounded good but in reality were stinkbombs. I know that feels, as the Tumblrs say. Is there a reasonable question Molloy was trying to ask that somehow got garbled?
Here's the thing: NO. It's season three of Girls. He's supposedly seen not just the first two seasons but also the first six episodes of the new one, which were sent to participating press. If by this point he doesn't 'get the purpose of all the nudity' he's quite probably not qualified to do his job. He doesn't have to like all the nudity on the show, but at this point he should get the purpose of it. And maybe as a grown person in the year 2014 working in media he should understand that not all nudity in film and television is meant to be wanked to.
The nudity in Girls is based on honesty and vulnerability. Dunham's reply sums it up:
“Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem."
Later Apatow confronted Molloy and told him he was a misogynist, which seems like a fair reading of the question. Molloy's response is either priceless cluelessness or despicable sophistry:
[Apatow asks] “As a TV critic you don’t understand why a show about young people in New York who spend some of their time naked, and some of their time having sex, includes women who sometimes are naked and sometimes have sex?”
“Then why aren’t all of the characters naked?” I asked.
He said a show about me would feature me naked some of the time.
“Then why aren’t all the characters in your movies naked some of the time? … Paul Rudd wasn’t naked,” I added, referring to “This Is 40.’”
That's misogynistic because it assumes that paternal Judd Apatow is making Dunham get naked. This is 40 is Apatow's movie. Girls is Dunham's show. Further, it's stupid because it's assuming all depictions of life must feature the same things. Girls comes from one specific point of view and is about one specific area of life; just as not every movie and TV show needs a sex scene, not every movie and TV show needs nudity. Or violence. Or musical numbers. Or space ships. You get the point.
Is there a good question somewhere deep in Molloy's offensive phrasing? Sort of - the question of why male nudity is a bigger deal than female nudity is interesting. Or maybe it's vice versa - you can show a man's nipples on daytime TV but a woman's nipples are off limits. A man's penis is slightly less taboo than a labia, but it's still pretty taboo and rarely seen on screen. We can talk about that (a lot of this comes down to actor preference, as Apatow mentions. Dunham, as creator and main voice of Girls, is comfortable being naked on camera where other actresses might not be).
But that isn't what Molloy said. He asked why Dunham is naked, since it isn't titillating. He's apparently okay with other actresses - ones he finds more traditionally attractive - being naked. I guess he finds that appropriately titillating. Because the only reason a woman would be naked on screen would be to give Tim Molloy a hard on.
By the way, Apatow asked Molloy if he had a girlfriend and if she liked him. At the end of his self-defense piece Molloy said his girlfriend had no problem with his question. As someone pointed out on Twitter last night that's the misogynist's version of 'I have black friends!'
Oh and Molloy: some of us actually find Lena Dunham really attractive.