Friday Genius Ten “Lemon Out” Edition
Ann Friedman has an interesting post about the “smart, attractive women not getting laid” problem, and it centers around the character of Liz Lemon on “30 Rock”. She quotes a couple of dudes who are fed up with the character being lonely, on the grounds that they would totally fuck her and thus she shouldn’t realistically have problems meeting anyone. A sample:
I just can’t take any more of the “Liz Lemon is absurdly, comically unattractive and unlucky in love” plot lines. It’s simply too incongruous with Tina Fey’s beauty, Liz’s smarts, and her position as a successful, prominent head writer and producer of a major network television show……
Mmm, I think the point isn’t that Liz is actually unattractive, but that she — like a lot of attractive women — thinks she is.
I will forgive these men from looking at the show through a male-only lens, since 95% of movies and TV are told from this point of view, and so shifting so that you see things from a woman’s perspective is like trying to watch a movie backwards for some people, I’m sure. But their analysis fails, because they think of dating as men buying and women selling, and they figure Lemon’s a quality product and so would have been purchased by now. One of them stabs closer to the truth by also castigating Lemon for having high standards, but both of them still buy into the idea that singleness is a curse upon a woman and that relieving it is just matter of having the right marketing.
If I may shift to seeing the character of Liz Lemon as an individual person with her own idiosyncratic needs, instead of a generic Single Woman Cursed With Singleness, I would like to offer another interpretation: Liz Lemon sabotages relationships because Lemon doesn’t want relationships. Yes, on the show she’s always bellyaching about being single, but that’s characterized as part of her neurotic obsession with doing things the right way, filling out a checklist in life. She also bellyaches about now having a better job and not being able to dress better, even though it’s clear that she doesn’t have these things because she doesn’t actually want them. Lemon likes being a comedy writer and a tomboy, and the only downside for her is that people judge her for it. Same thing with being single. She’s characterized as someone who abhors having people in her personal space and is largely indifferent to sex, two personality traits that would be severely compromised by having a boyfriend. When she does date someone, it’s only because she’s convinced herself he’s not going to put any demands on her, and then when he does, she picks a fight with him and leaves. It’s a great portrayal of a loner, and I think it confuses people because we’re all socialized to believe women can’t be loners. And part of the reason is that Hollywood is so dudely, and thus women are always viewed in movies and TV through their relationships with men, and thus can’t be loners. It’s not surprising that one of the very few shows on TV that is so tightly controlled by an actual woman is the first to have such a character.
Anyway, Ann makes gentle fun of these guys for thinking that if a woman is attractive and successful, she will always be neck-deep in dick. The reality is no one thinks they get laid enough. People I’ve known who are always going out with this guy or lady and I wonder how they make time for anything else are still looking at empty beds and wondering WTF. Sex is like food. Even if you generally have enough, if you want it now and it’s not on hand, self-pity sets in rapidly. Ann notes in her post that Neko Case can’t get laid, thought the article is about how female musicians on tour don’t get groupies like male musicians do, and I’ll point out that how much men get hit on varies wildly, and this is a narrow set of circumstances that doesn’t tell us much beyond, “Men who push for one-night stands in bars tend to be more confident if they are hitting on someone they don’t sit around fantasizing is their girlfriend.”
I just don’t think there’s a positive or negative correlation between success and getting laid. Or even conventional attractiveness and getting laid. Nor is there one model for “getting laid”. My theory is people put off different vibes. I know people who always have people clamoring to date them for real, but never get hit on for one-night stands, and vice versa. And it’s hard to point to a single quality they have that makes the difference, beyond just that’s how people perceive them.
Or, and this is where the Genius Ten comes. Perhaps there’s an entirely alternate theory to why Neko Case can’t get laid. And that’s because famous musicians with the initials N.C. can’t get laid. Think I’m crazy? Consider Exhibit #1, the song that will be kicking off the Friday Genius Ten. Leave your lists or thoughts on this conundrum—or anything at all, open thread—in comments.
Original song: “No Pussy Blues” by Grinderman (i.e., Nick Cave)
1) “Down on the Street” by The Stooges
2) “Eraser” by No Age
3) “Katrina” by The Black Lips
4) “Free Money” by Patti Smith
5) “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell
6) “Run To Your Grave” by The Mae Shi
7) “Human Fly” by The Cramps
8) “Touch Me I’m Sick” by Mudhoney
9) “Vicious” by Lou Reed
10) “Holes” by Mercury Rev
Videos below the fold.