These questions regard last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls. Please answer the prompts with specific examples from LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE, though supplementary material will be accepted as a secondary source. Please write legibly. #2 pencils only. You have an hour to finish this test. See below for questions and example responses.
1. This episode of GIRLS is characterized by an ambient soundtrack of jangly acoustic guitar. How does the background music reflect Hanna Horvath’s inner emotional state?
I didn’t notice this, as I was too busy rocking out to that rad “Steal My Love/monkeys laughing hysterically” mash-up. Oh my god, and what about “Field-Nice”: that “Steal My Sunshine”/”children laughing” track? Can I buy that on iTunes?
This episode did make my boyfriend realize that he should never say to total strangers, “My one regret in life is that I never learned to DJ,” which I think we can all count as a positive.
2. Hannah attends a tech rehearsal for Adam’s play. His costar breaks out some dubious hip hop slang, enraging him. Discuss the history of minstrelsy in America. When is it acceptable for whites to employ African American vernacular for comic effect?
First off: was Adam’s monologue supposed to be good? I was confused. I know Adam Driver is a good stage actor, but was he (the actor, not the character) intentionally trying to do a kind shitty performance, to show how ridiculous monologues in memoir plays are? It was like one of those Fred Armisen parodies of one-man shows:
And why hasn’t Adam figured out the rest of his monologue…the play is opening in two weeks!
Gavin definitely needed to cut it down to only one “yo,” but it’s funny, I haven’t heard someone say the word “wigger” since 1999. Another race issue that Girls is just diving headfirst in? I don’t know. I don’t think Josh was mocking African-American culture so much as trying to make a statement on white people who co-opt that culture in an effort to remain hip, which ironically backfires, since Gavin doesn’t have enough confidence in his own abilities that he has to pull out that stereotype (of a wigger) for laughs.
Actually, if you go back and listen to what Gavin says during that scene –”Yo yo yo, I love boy scout camp, who says we be getting too old for this shit? (Makes record scratching noises)”–it kind of makes you want to know more about that play! Adam hasn’t been on that river in a long time, but they are in boy scout camp? Which, to be fair, would place them around 9-13 years old…exactly when white kids are most likely to start emulating hip hop artists and other black entertainers because they seem cool. So maybe Gavin was tapping into something real there.
Also Gavin, in an effort to be funny, was playing up the character of a white guy who thinks he’s black which is totally different than a white comic that does impressions of black people, or makes racial slurs. OR IS IT? Discuss.
3. Adam joins Hannah in the shower and urinates on her. Discuss the infantile pleasure of micturition in light of Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents.
I’d rather discuss Adam’s rage issues and anti-authority idealism in light of Civilization and Its Discontents, but fiiiine.
Freud had this idea that when someone feels “an oceanic feeling of wholeness,” (something that arises during the first stages of love, say) they can regress back into a stage of pre-ego infantilism where the identity between the person and the object is blurred. Pleasure principle and so forth.
So while it is totally gross, Adam peeing on Hannah can either be seen as a sign that he is truly opening himself up and falling for her…or that he’s just a big weirdo that wants to incorporate water sports into their sex play. I assumed the latter.
4. After Marnie and Jessa pick up a venture capitalist in a bar, their possible menage a trois is cut short with the defilement of his shag carpet. How does this scene crystallize the class conflict inherent in the late capitalist project?
What a weird scene. The first time I saw it, I thought, “This is the first wrong note the show has played all year.” Because yeah, Girls is not especially adroit at keeping their “adults” three dimensional, but when that venture capitalist flips out, it’s almost too emotional. It was an uncomfortable scene, and it was trying to play for both laughs and for drama, and that guy from Bridesmaids had to revert to using some sort of weird caveman speech impediment so his accent wouldn’t come out.
Though I did love his “mash-ins”, especially the part where it’s just kids screeching over Len?
The second time though, I thought that this scene was so uncomfortable precisely because it was so well-written. This is why you don’t let strange corporate guys take you home, especially if they live in one of those creepy high-rises in Williamsburg that I thought literally no one lived in. He has this nice-guy act that complete falls away when he realizes he’s being “excluded” from the sex games, and even though he pouts that he wants to “balls deep in something…I don’t even care what it is,” it’s actually coming from this non-sexual place of wanting to be part of the group. Despite the fact that he has money and this expensive rug (and is a total goober), why is this guy so furious?
He’s mad because he considers them to be over-privileged hipster shits whose parents pay for anything, who look down on him because he’s not “cool.” He is not wrong: if there’s one thing show has taught us, it’s that working hard for something if it isn’t relationship-based isn’t worth the effort.
That being said, this guy would actually be a perfect boyfriend for Marnie; as they are both so tightly-wound yuppies trying who would be happier just accepting that they are fundamentally mainstream and middle-class. They shouldn’t have to hide their resentment towards parasitic friends who don’t have any cash.
Oh, and is Jessa a lesbian now?
5. Is Roxy Music the most amazing band ever?
Kind of, but it loses points for being my dad’s favorite band. Or at least I think it is because he loves Velvet Goldmine so much. You tell me:
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