5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO's Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in August of 2013. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…



Sometimes what the media doesn’t want you to notice can hurt you. I grew up with Silent Generation parents who held some fairly strong Victorian values, so I heard plenty about the shameful evils of modern media before I entered college to study communications. There I learned the perspective of many critics and behind-the-scenes media makers: “The masses are asses.” While “shameful” has become a subjective quality in our postmodern era, the fact is that the folks bringing you your media think you’re downright dumb, no matter what.

They’re also motivated to do more than entertain you; today’s artists who garner attention are those that encourage you to “think” …just like them and their promoters. This, in essence, is the dark side of Girls. At 26, Lena Dunham stands the chance of becoming the next Orson Welles — a young individual with talent, ability and the right connections to make waves in the media. That is, if she weren’t so damned educated. And before you jump on the “evil liberal universities” bandwagon, be warned: the uncomfortable truth is that you, too, have been brainwashed.

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1. We may speak English, but we think in Ancient Greek.


Like most of my fellow classmates, I paid enough attention to the Greco-Roman pantheon to pass the test and move on with my life. The problem is that, as a culture, we have yet to move on from the humanistic influence of the ancient era. We are so incredibly oblivious to the fact that we continue to embrace Greco-Roman perceptions of the body, mind, and spirit to such an extent that these perspectives fuel culture wars. Feminism has always been a paradox to me and now I know why: Real freedom requires thinking outside the box. If you’re so ingrained in a way of thinking that you’re blind to it, you’ve effectively become a prisoner of your own mind. This leads me to point #2.

2. Your body is the only best and worst thing about yourself.


Women are things. No, really; in the feminist mindset women are bodies, physical channels of sexual pleasure and fertility, nothing more. As long as feminism embraces the Greek mindset regarding women, our bodies will be the only definition of ourselves. Speaking of which, case in point: For my 13th birthday I received a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and a subscription to Seventeen magazine from an avowed feminist.

That’s the mixed message of feminism: You are your body and here’s how to have fun while being judged for the way you look for the rest of your life. Feminism doesn’t say you are an eternal soul inside a temporal body; feminism demands that what you see is what you get and, like a petulant tween, tells anyone that if they don’t like it, they can just go screw. Speaking of which…


3. Random fornication is more important than critical thinking.


There’s nothing brave about it. It’s just gross and grossly impersonal. Brave is Joanne Woodward at the age of 27, with no previous lead credits to her name, taking on the role of a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder. A 26 year old getting fake-screwed on a hipster cable network, on the other hand — wow, look how far feminism hasn’t gotten us in 56 years.

Then again, if anyone’s looking to do a Game of Thronesesque show about the goings on among Aphrodite’s temple prostitutes, I can think of a promising young writer with experience in writing coitus for the small screen.

4. The Media’s gatekeepers will enthusiastically cheer on incredibly ignorant behavior.


The Lost Generation. The Baby Boomers. The Me Generation. All these folks gained national attention and cliched titles after they’d accomplished something that caught the public’s eye. Millennials, however, are barely old enough to begin making a cultural dent, yet it seems as if every twentysomething out there is being dubbed “the voice of their generation.” For doing what? Using social media on a smartphone?

All this puffing up is a pretty clever Pavlovian scheme rewarding young hipsters who adhere to leftist cultural norms; nowhere is this more evident than in the critics’ relationship with Lena Dunham. Fun, fat, and fabulous, Ms. Dunham has been rewarded with critical acclaim for sacrificing herself on the altar of hip. Those critics know they have her right where they want her because television is a word-of-mouth gig that is strictly buzz dependent.


5. Time is cyclical: Welcome to the New Dark Ages.


No, I didn’t learn this one from Girls, but I see it playing out through the show’s popularity rather clearly.

The western world tends to see time in a linear sense as if we are always progressing towards perfection as we distance ourselves from our primordial past. The God of the Bible has a completely different perspective, beginning with his name: YHVH (the Tetragrammaton) has a literal meaning “I Am, I Was, I Will Be.”  In other words, there is no beginning nor end point for God. Likewise, the Israelites were given a yearly schedule that flowed in cycles known as seasons. We may have moved away from our agrarian roots, but the Ecclesiastical lyrics put to song by The Byrds still apply: “To every thing there is a season, a time and purpose under heaven.”

As the western world embraced and assimilated what is essentially Biblical Hebraism, adopting a biblical faith in a Messiah and melding pagan practices with adherence to the cultural norms of ancient Israel known as “commandments,” we grew as a  society. We overcame disease, poverty, and ignorance in many areas of life. Not ironically, the same forces that demand we turn away from our biblical foundation have also managed to plunge us into a neo-Dark Age. Modern medicine now faces new plagues, radical governments threaten new poverty, and ignorance is more rampant than ever. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the popular branding of Girls as a show that empowers women.


Modern feminism has returned us to the chains of ancient pagan culture. These goddess feminists think they can get away with it because they’re sure we see the world as they do: in lines. We are marching, they think, farther and farther away from the evidence of our ancient past when, all the while, we are being led back into the same ideologies that bound us as temple prostitutes and mothers of the state thousands of years ago.

Will Girls be a liberating force for women? Only if Lena Dunham, her fans, and the critics who egg her on stop marching and start reading between the lines.

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Check out the previous installments of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s series dissecting HBO’s Girls:

June 6: A Biblical Feminist Confronts The Girls Goddesses, Part 1

June 16: Sex Mitzvah’d: Virginity Isn’t Easy for Girls

June 23: Money: Is That What Girls Goddesses Really Want?

June 30: Millennial Girls Are Easy: Sex, Power & Porn

July 7: Sex for Girls’ Sake: Porn, Art, or Both?

July 14: Single Issue Goddess: The War on Women’s Intellect

July 21: Her Body, Herself: The Right Size & Shape of Girls

July 28: Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish

August 4: Girl on Girl Action: Girls and the Female Gaze

August 11: Girls on Boys: The Body Politic of Goddess Feminism


August 18: Girls: As Famous as their Daddies


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