'This Ain't Girls XXX': Why 'Girls' Fans Should Hate This Hustler Porn Parody

Parodies, by definition, exist for comedic effect. The idea of a parody is to take elements of an original work and replace them with something ludicrous or unexpected. People laugh, and then they move on.  

You might have even laughed when Seth Rogen's character in Zack and Miri Make a Porno threw out "Edward Penishands" and "Star Whores" as potential titles for an amateur adult film. Conceptually, it's easy to find the humor. Parodies are often even born of an appreciation for whatever they’re parodying, or, in the case of Weird Al Yankovic's entire career, they are funny without being malicious. In the case of This Ain't Girls XXX, a porn parody of HBO's Girls, there's little humor to be found. Without any respect for original, the parody is neither funny nor endearing; instead, it undermines the integrity of the show and its following.

A porn parody of a beloved franchise like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars is something that will inevitably come out of a vast and varied fan-verse. When it comes to globally recognized (or renounced) stories, one can expect that sexual fantasies concerning the plot and characters exist. Alex Chance, the porn star playing Hannah Horvath (writer/creator Lena Dunham's character,) uses a similar defense for This Ain't Girls XXX: "Who hasn't watched a TV show and hasn't wanted to see their favorite characters actually f--k?" she asked.

But This Ain't Girls XXX didn't spring from a Girls fan community; it's being produced by Hustler. Additionally, a portion the Girls fan base is composed of feminists, and, even if you aren't a feminist, it would be difficult to watch Girls through a sexually perverse lens. Dunham works to abolish the stereotypes seen in porn, and show how they affect our relationships. To illustrate this, her character, Hannah, has participated in numerous uncomfortable sex scenes in the show. These scenes are intentionally awkward, and are not meant to arouse. Unfortunately, that seems to have been lost on the costars of This Ain't Girls XXX, who both noted that adapting the show for pornography was easy. Chance even remarked that Girls was, "pretty much like a soft-core porn to start." Clearly, they’ve misinterpreted the intentions behind the sex scenes, and are now bastardizing them

The parodying of her show has, understandably, annoyed Dunham. Her reaction to the parody in the form of tweets included, "Girls, at it's core, is a feminist action while Hustler markets and monetizes a male's idea of female sexuality." In a public letter to Dunham via the Atlantic Wire, This Ain't Girls XXX writer Stuart Canterbury countered that not all porn is inherently anti-feminist, adding that this assumption, "undermines the right of free sexual choices that a liberated woman can make for herself." Maybe so, but the fact that the characters of Marnie and Hannah — both created as strong females — will be used to garner profit by having sex on-screen is not in line with the feminist mission of their creator. Regardless of whether or not the actresses in the pornography are exercising free will, the fictional characters cannot.

As much as Dunham has been criticized for the lack of diversity on Girls, the show does reach a specific, and growing, niche: twentysomething women with slightly awkward tendencies in the midst of navigating sex, dating, and relationships. Because many viewers see themselves in Hannah or Marnie or Jessa or Adam, it's even stranger to consider a pornographic parody of the show. After all, why would we want to see ourselves parodied twice? Girls already does a good job of holding a mirror to our lives.

Chance may have good intentions in her portrayal of Hannah. As a woman who has had a difficult time fitting into a porn industry category due to her self-proclaimed "normal" but not "normal for porn" body, Chance hopes that women will watch This Ain't Girls XXX, and see that it's okay not to be stick-thin. But even if Chance has found her niche as a porn star in Hannah, it's unlikely that she will be sending a "love your body" message to viewers. Instead, she could be relaying that women of all body types should see themselves in the way the porn industry might see them. Though Chance is exercising her free will to act in porn, she does not have control over pornography's effects on women in general. Canterbury insists that This Ain't Girls XXX is intended for "pure entertainment," but nothing about it seems pure, and no one is laughing

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Rachael Roth

Rachael Roth is a freelance writer and editor with a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. She publishes independent literary and nonfiction journals in her spare time. www.cursemag.com

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