Friday, May 2, 2014

"Hook Up Culture" representation through HBO's hit series Entourage and Girls

             Over the past century it is well known that most college students engage at one time or another in what is known as a “hookup” —an emotionless, commitment-free sexual encounter. Many ask “what ever happened to asking each other out on dates, exchanging phone numbers and talking on the phone, or just genuinely getting to know someone before encountering a “one night stand”? Some critics blame it on peer pressure, the ubiquity of pornography, feminism, careerism, secularism and sexual drenched media. Although I do think many of those influence this “hook up” culture, I too believe that a big factor that plays a role in this “emotionless, commitment-free sexual encounter” is the representation and influence of sexually drenched media of young people.  Through my textual analysis of HBO’s hit series Entourage and Girls, it is shown through television’s representation that each series encourages and reflects this “hook up culture” which feeds into our social norms of masculinity and sexism in our society.
            Entourage is about a young, twenty something American actor, Vince Chase, or “Vinny” living the ideal Hollywood lifestyle along with his brother, Johnny, and his two best friends, Turtle and Eric. This show gives an exclusive look into the life of an A-list actor and his “entourage” as they struggle, but eventually find their place in Hollywood while still maintaining their close friendship. Although Vince is the one who brings in the majority of the wealth from his well-paid acting career, he shares his luxuries with his friends (Rhetoric and Pop Culture, 2011). The majority of the episodes bases aspects of itself around the happiness and comforts of what having money brings along—if they aren’t at a popular nightclub, they are cruising around in expensive cars, throwing topless pool parties, doing drugs, and sleeping with many girls in Vince’s mansion.
The ideology that is referenced throughout Entourage is men being more empowered than women. The show’s plot revolves around an all male cast, so the viewer is subject to their misadventures, which almost always include their sexual conquests (Rhetoric and Pop Culture, 2011). The show is frame worked around these characters getting the best of both worlds, aka getting what they want, whenever they want, without their actions having any consequences. For example, this sexist and masculine centered drama reinforces our “hook up” culture by revealing how these “bros” or characters portray women. They treat women with no respect, yelling lewd comments at them and making “witty”/rude comments with their “bros.” For example when Ari, Vince’s agent make a comment to another girl agent that he feels threatened by, but his initial intent conveys that men are more empowered by women— “Because I will prevail, because I’m a winner and you’re a whore with more cleavage than talent.”
            Shamelessly Vince and his “entourage” only use women for their good looks and sleep with them for their own sexual pleasures. There’s absolutely no emotional attachment or ever a consideration of a relationship with them. Throughout the series the women are perceived as dumb, naïve gold diggers and are mainly treated like sex objects. When it comes to sex they refer to it as “bang” or “getting laid” and Vince never has sex with another girl because he’s afraid she’ll get “emotionally attached” and who has time for that “bullshit relationship drama” anyways, right? Entourage interestingly shows that when it comes to hooking up, guys call the shots, so when it comes to getting “laid” that it’s on Vince’s time and the girls willingness to do once again, what Vince wants, when he want. Another example that degrades women is how the “bros” talk and make fun of one another. They are regularly shown using terms such as “pussy” and “bitch” to insult one another. These words are obviously not something that males want to be referred to as, as it denotes their masculinity and puts them in the same category as a woman. Again reinforcing the ideology that associating any trait related to a women is undesirable, and that men hold a dominant position over women (Rhetoric and Pop Culture, 2011.) Overall, Entourage does a great job at reflecting our male dominant society  and solely see women as convenient “accessory” for their own pleasures which justifies why relationships have such little to no meaning now a days. This kind of behavior is not only idolized and respected amongst his friends, but reflects and represents our young twenty-something male consumers who think this behavior is ideal, acceptable, and justified. 
Simultaneously, HBO’s series Girls, is about a group of young twenty-something’s who are dealing with everyday struggles post college graduation. Girls is constructed to have a feminist stance, aka women being just as equal to men, however, I find it has an insidious way that feeds into this masculine and sexist society we are still trying to stray away from. For example, in season one, Hannah is emotionally confused in what she thinks is a “relationship” with Adam, who clearly just uses her when it’s convenient him. He plays a game of acting like he’s interested when around her, but at the same time insults and uses her for “when its appropriate.”

            This shows that Hannah is insecure with herself, and desperate for some kind of relationship and in order to “fill that need” she goes back to Adam multiple times and doesn’t stick up for herself. This degrades Hannah’s self esteem and doesn’t show any self-respect because she keeps throwing herself at Adam, by still sending nude pics, showing up at his place, and still having sex the way he wants, for his pleasures which are not reciprocated. Another instance in girls, is when Shoshanna is so insecure about being a virgin and worries she’s not “experienced” so just like Hannah, she throws herself onto a guy she meets, which in turn doesn’t want to have sex with her because she is still a virgin, and “virgins always get emotionally attached”, which obvi is not okay and shows he’s not interested her in any type of long-lasting relationship way.  Although Girls does a good job at portraying how “women are exploring women” as they continue to grow up, it also represents and reinforces an empowering masculine society that portrays women attaching to men as if they cant be happy alone or aren’t independent enough.
            It is shows like Entourage and Girls that have an impact of how television’s representation encourages and reflects this “hook up culture,” which once consumed by viewers, feeds into our social norms of masculinity and sexism in our society that we are slowly, but surely trying to move from. Although I will say, if we didn’t have these “counter parts” or rejections of stereotypes, I’m not sure how we could find a happy medium portrayed through entertainment. 

 Holly Turner
TV Criticism
Blog Post #3

Cadenas, Kerensa. "Feminism and Flawed Women in Lena Dunham’s “Girls”." Ms Magazine Blog. N.p., 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Charles. "I Don't Want to Bro Up, I'm an Entourage Kid." Grantland. N.p., 10 Aug. 2011. Web. 02 May 2014.

Gallagher, Brenden. "Nobody's Perfect: Entourage's 25 Biggest Fails." N.p., 13 May 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

Rhetoric and Popular Culture. (2011, April 7).

1 comment:

  1. I agree- I think these two shows, along with the rest of our media influence the "hook-up" culture we have been surrounded by. I don't know really anyone who doesn't love Entourage, and Girls, being relevantly newer, is very popular as well. These shows depict ways to go about sexual issues we deal with and almost set a standard for some situations. Nice topic!!


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