Daily Archives: January 14, 2013

Santigold’s New York and Lena Dunham’s “Girls”

I’m going to commit the grievous sin of talking about a TV show I haven’t actually seen: HBO’s Girls. Girls won a Golden Globe last night, and Lena Dunham beat out Amy Poehler and Tina Fey for best actress in a TV comedy or musical. As I said, I can’t speak to Dunham’s performance, but I do think that saying Fey, Poehler and the other nominees got Dunham through middle school may not have been the wisest or classiest way of acknowledging the competition.

Following up on the Golden Globes success, Santigold released a video this morning of a song written specifically for the Girls soundtrack, titled, appropriately enough, “Girls.”

It’s not my favorite Santigold song, but it’s catchy, and the huge cast of girls and women singing the song is engaging and fun to watch. What immediately struck me, though, is how broad and diverse this group of women is. Santigold’s New York, and it clearly is New York, is full of young people and old people, young people hanging out with old people, folks of varying racial backgrounds and socio-economic classes. And notably, it features lots of black folks.

If there’s one thing I know about Girls, even having never seen it, it’s that Girls does not feature many black people. Anna Holmes’s piece in the New Yorker last April started a debate about race and Girls that’s still raging, particularly now that Dunham has cast Community‘s Donald Glover as her black Republican boyfriend in the second season. Helena Andrews at The Root argues that Glover’s casting works, and that his character avoids tokenism.

To be honest, I’m not that interested in watching Girls, but I am interested in the discussions about race, privilege, class, entitlement, and creative labor that have been sparked by the show. Ultimately, I find Santigold’s New York considerably more compelling than what I know of Dunham’s Brooklyn, but it’s the contrast of the two that seems most striking.