what do you think about the treatment of female characters on true detective?
I think the concept of “framing” is all-pervading & important. True Detective is hardboiled psychological detective fiction. the narrative is framed by two white cishet male detectives in smalltown godfearing Louisiana, as viewed through the brooding miasmic psychosphere of Southern gothic fiction. Again and again, the camera immerses itself in their perspectives: we experience Cohle’s searing neural ghosts firsthand; when he drinks to excess the camera slurs and hazes; when he snorts coke & meth it’s jittery and shivering and hyperkinetic.
But even as this closeness enlarges & amplifies the nightmare world, it also highlights the instability of the narratives we’re being fed. It’s a corrupted Eden rife with rank hypocrisy: the evangelical face of a culture which condemns sex and sin and hedonism even as it breeds a delirious underground of boozing and fighting and drugs and stripclubs and gangs and prostitution—and ritual murder.
The embodiment of that hypocrisy is Martin Hart. Hart is a violent misogynist, and the show doesn’t dilute, excuse, or apologise for that. Almost all of the leering and objectification of women occurs when we’re sunk into Hart’s perspective. That first lascivious fleshhungry frame of Lisa—that’s Hart’s nasty objectifying gaze, dismantling her into sexualised parts; he does the same to his wife Maggie. And make no mistake, Cohle is a wretched misogynist too; he’s merely the lesser of two evils—dismissing women instead of fetishising them. He calls Lisa “crazy pussy”; but it was Hart, drunk & incensed with sexual jealousy, who forced his way into her house and attacked the man in her bed.
And the show repeatedly shows the harm this sexism and misogyny and objectification causes—from the prostitution rackets with underage girls and Hart’s daughters reenacting hideous crimes against women with dolls, to Hart’s wreckage of a marriage, and the way that this unbridled underworld becomes a place where prostitutes are preyed upon by male sadists. There are no good men. There are only—in Cohle’s words—bad men “who keep the other bad men from the door”.
Nic Pizzolatto: “It’s not the serial killer that’s unsettling; television shows you far worse than that all the time. What unsettles are the aspects of being human which the show chooses to highlight. That this stuff is being delivered through actors as instantly amiable and comforting as Harrelson and McConaughey makes it doubly subversive.” (x)
"We only have the one murdered woman at the crime scene in the entire series. It’s not an unrelenting horror show. It’s meant to stand in for the universal victim in this type of drama. Because while I think we’re doing a good job of telling the story that this genre demands, I think we’re also poking certain holes in it and looking at where these instincts begin, both in the type of men that Hart and Cohle represent—and in ourselves as an audience." (x)
That’s not to let True Detective off the hook, because at times its framing of misogyny shades into actual misogyny. The female nudity is often excessive, gratuitous. Michelle Monaghan is giving a fantastic performance as Maggie, but the character is underdeveloped—as are all the female characters. Women are the voices of reason & common sense—men lie & dissemble; women tell the truth, even when it’s ugly—but those voices aren’t heard enough.
Are you fucking kidding me? Girls is terrible. The only theme is malignant narcissism, the only stories are ones of pathological self-absorption, and every single character is a spoiled rotten navel-gazing garbage monster.
Of course, all of that would be forgivable if the show were somehow funny or poignant, but it’s so completely up its own ass that it is neither.
This pretty much sums up how I feel about Girls. I remember liking the first season, though it was a while ago and I don’t remember exactly why I liked it. At the time it seemed smart and funny, and I think maybe I was under the impression that we’d be seeing more of a journey—watching these narcissistic garbage monsters morph into people I’d actually want to hang out with. But no. I’m not sure if it’s my impatience with the show but they seem to be getting worse—each one more unlikable with every episode. And I’m going to call bullshit on the notion that “all people of that age are narcissistic assholes”. Fuck off. Only assholes make broad sweeping generalizations about an entire age bracket/gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation, especially in the pursuit of excusing shitty behaviour.
I don’t know if this show is heading somewhere towards redemption and I just can’t see it, but I’ve pretty much lost the desire and patience to find out.
P.S. Ironically, the characters with the most depth are actually male… Adam is probably the only reason I’ve gotten this far.
Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. Of course I’d known Phil’s work for a long time — since his remarkably perfect film debut as a privileged, cowardly prep-school kid in Scent of a Woman — but I’d never met him until the first table read for Charlie Wilson’s War, in which he’d been cast as Gust Avrakotos, a working-class CIA agent who’d fallen out of favor with his Ivy League colleagues. A 180-degree turn.
On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings — people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. “Yeah, I used to do that.” I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.