Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in HBO's Girls
The “porn parody” industry has become so wilfully unimaginative these days it makes its mid-’90s forerunners seem like sublime works of satire: Tits A Wonderful Life, Buffy The Vampire Layer, Pulp Friction, and the immortal classic Ass Ventura: Crack Detective, seem like relics of a simpler, sillier time.
Now, it’s sufficient to simply whack “this ain’t” or “a XXX parody” fore or after the original inspiration’s title, cast some porn stars who look vaguely like their non-porn equivalents, and Bob’s your uncle’s pool maintenance man’s lonely MILF wife with a pearl necklace fetish.
So it is with Hustler’s recently wrapped porn parody, This Ain’t Girls XXX, in which: “Hannah (Alex Chance) decides to forsake men, and boyfriend Adam, to experiment with lesbianism. After a few satisfying jaunts she returns to Adam (Richie Calhoun) -- and mankind. Adam accepts her back into the fold, but, true to the original show, adds a dominant and quirky dimension to the scene.”
An intimate scene between Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam Sackler (Adam Driver) in the first season of Girls.
Girls’ creator and star Lena Dunham expressed her dismay about the parody on Twitter: “Okay, I wracked my brain to articulate why I can't just laugh off a porn parody of Girls and here are 3 reasons: 1. Because Girls is, at its core, a feminist action while Hustler is a company that markets and monetizes a male's idea of female sexuality. 2. Because a big reason I engage in (simulated) onscreen sex is to counteract a skewed idea of that act created by the proliferation of porn. 3. Because it grosses me out.”
It may seem like Dunham is being unduly serious about something that could be chalked down to a low form of the highest form of flattery, but as Slate’s Amanda Marcotte notes, there’s a difference here, namely that Girls is already chock full of sex, unlike other parodied shows such as 30 Rock: “[The] porn parody of 30 Rock looks like a hoot, a sexualized tribute to the beloved NBC sitcom. What makes porn parodies like that one work is that they inject sexual situations into shows that aren't actually very sexy, and the absurdity of it all is amusing.”
There’s a bitter irony to the Hannah-and-Adam storyline being turned into a porno “storyline”, given Adam’s sexual peccadilloes are arguably illustrative of the ways in which porn - particularly the sort that Hustler and their hardcore peers peddle - has affected the sexuality of Millennial (and not-so-Millennial) men. In this way, the pop culture Ouroboros has well and truly bitten down on its tail.
Take the distressing scene in the penultimate episode of Season 2, ‘On All Fours’, in which Adam forces Natalia to have rough, porny sex, while she protests “I didn’t take a shower today” and “No, no, no, no, not on my dress!” It’s an extreme example of a dating climate where men think nothing of asking for anal on a first date, money shots are banalities, and internet dating site members will follow “hi how are you” with remarkably frank bedroom talk straight from Penthouse Forum.
That’s not a Gail Dines-esque theoretical rant, either: most people I know, myself included, have all manner of horror stories from the dating circuit when it comes to porn’s influence on the way we go about the business of the bedroom (turning down “Do you do anal?” only to be immediately asked “Well can I come in your mouth then?” is one particularly romantic memory I have).
Just ask Dunham herself, who told the New York Times last year (on the topic of dating and sex), “I remember noticing things, certain behaviors, where I thought, ‘There’s no way you learned that anywhere but on YouPorn.com. There’s no way any teenage girl taught you and reinforced that behavior.”
So, if Girls - both Adam’s sexual tastes and Hannah’s well-meaning attempts to go along with them in the pursuit of love - is a subtle comment on the ways in which sexual interaction has shifted in the 21st century, a porn parody of those interactions not only misses the point, it just keeps the production line of future “Adams” rolling.