When someone who loves you nails that annoying thing you do, it's hilarious. Therapeutic even. When a bunch of other people start chiming in with even more gripes, it can turn into an attack. You start thinking, am I really that bad? Has everyone been hating me and just waiting for the right moment to let it all out? If you're a girl who enjoys the internet these days, you're likely to think that's the case. It's the S--- Girls Say effect.
Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard's video series, based on their brilliant Twitter feed tracking the bizarre speech patterns of women, was the funniest web-based skit in a while. Funny because it's true. Funny because it's about annoying people. Funny because it's about me too. Funny because Sheppard, who dresses in drag to portray the female embodiment of our bad habits, endears his subject just enough so that his commentary isn't scathing. Also it's just really funny.
Then came the knock-offs. Some were equally as clever (S--- Liza Minnelli Says ), some were not (S--- Drunk Girls Say ). Others, like S--- White Girls Say to Black Girls, were smartly composed, well-executed and even a little sobering. But as the reincarnations pile up, it's opened the door to a larger question. Are girls really that s----y? Are the bulk of us racist, narcissistic bores who should just shut our traps because everyone's had enough? Sure feels like that's the message.
Internet culture now dictates that when someone makes a good thing, everyone wants to try making it too. S--- Girls Say was particularly good, not just in execution, but in terms of timing. Comedy about the neurotic ticks of women is hitting home right now. "Bridesmaids " and "30 Rock" popularized a brand of female-centric humor that suddenly made it okay for women to laugh at themselves. We needed that. Finally it's time to lighten up about certain gender-specific trends long labeled flaws or disorders.
S--- Girls Say was perfect vessel to transfer that message. ("I hate trying on clothes?" "Did I lock to the door?" "Do you know anything about computers?") But as hoards of copycats chime in-—S--- Brides Say, S--- Straight Girls Say to Lesbians , S--- Apathetic Girls Say , S--- Black Girls Say —that vessel is starting to become a mothership of dangerous stereotyping. Race and religion have become an integral part of differentiating each video, and while a few knock-offs have roped in men's mannerisms, the target is largely women. Rather, girls.
Of course by criticizing the never-ending joke, I'm leaving myself open to the kind of s--- guys who make bad sexist jokes say : "Relax! Have a sense of humor!" And I do, to a point.
I mean this is really funny....
Five reasons funny women are sexy
Why everyone should see Bridesmaids
What do men think about when they fantasize?
Is this really how guys talk about women?