Thursday, 14 June 2012

Why am I seeing so many girls naked?

Our favourite new show is making a.m.k. uncomfortable....

Brendan posted an article last month on his defense of the TV show Girls. I'll admit, I've watched most of the episodes, enough to form an opinion on a particular aspect of the show: nudity.

Does having that many nude scenes really need to happen? It's like having to watch an old, tired argument between the characters every week that never changes, you just have to watch them struggle thru it with no hope of resolution or even any new points being raised. I never thought I would be complaining about nudity in a show--I used to search for even brief tidbits of it as a young teen, sometimes even having to watch a 45 minute programme just to get a glance, but it seems like everyone in the cast is taking a turn getting naked for increasingly bizarre reasons. The cute one randomly meets some guy from camp on the street, they make a date within 15 seconds, he comes over and gets an erection and essentially asks for a handjob, a demand for a kiss, and all of a sudden they're on the poor girl's bed with her pants off. I get that it's trying to make us uncomfortable, but let's fast-forward just a little bit more to when the English one or whatever meets up with her ex-boyfriend that was just mentioned in passing before and all of a sudden she's getting fucked out of a window. Both of these scenes, although interesting by themselves, don't appear to have any foreseeable ties to the plot of the episode, and unless they're planning to do something super creative and unexpected in later episodes, I don't think that those two brief storylines are going to tie in any major way back to the main plot going forward.

Then, cut to an episode I haven't even watched yet, but my poor girlfriend told me about. Apparently, I can now go see the penis of the girl's dad, the one, that's right, who you see naked in every goddamn episode. She is, of course, the least attractive of the girls, and just happens to be the girl who writes, directs, produces, and created the show. Most people I know who aren't especially attractive wouldn't be looking for excuses to show their boobs in every fifth scene. What's with the bathtub at the beginning of the first episode? Was that a cheap ratings grab? If it was a cheap ratings grab, at least get it right--throw out the unattractive girl, get in the cute one or the one from the UK.

Of course, that's unjustly rude of me, because the truth is it's not like she's hideous or anything. She's just certainly not actress-pretty. And yes, I think it's a feminist statement by the creator as some kind of empowerment symbol or that she has some other wittier explanation that I don't really understand, and there is a lot to respect in that, honest there is--I'm not advocating against any of that, either. I am just saying that I think she is putting herself naked in the show so often at least partly because she likes that so many people are seeing her naked. I'm not sure if it's a fetish or if it's a statement because maybe she got picked on in school and kids called her ugly or fat or something, and again it's not because she's absolutely hideous or anything because I don't think she is, but maybe she was in high school or maybe kids were just cruel because, you know what, they are. And you know what, I'm not even saying it's a problem if it is either of those things. I love empowerment, and I love kids standing up to bullies, or at least symbolic ones. I just don't love seeing her naked every week.

It's actually one of the main reasons why I haven't watched the last few episodes. I'm sick of seeing you naked. It makes me uncomfortable. I don't think I should be seeing anyone who I don't know naked this much. I feel like I know you better than I really do, and then I feel used because it's probably some smart way to get better ratings that you came up with, because everyone knows that the audience identifying with characters is an important component of most successful shows and one of the reasons why the best show of all time, Arrested Development, tanked. I don't want to be used. I don't want to see you naked anymore.

Current background image
on Lena Dunham's Twitter
Also, that cute girl seems so innocent, and I realize that it's her character and she's probably just a good actress, but I've seen a lot of actresses who play the same role in every film, and, lo and behold, it's the exact same personality they seem to have in their every day life. She might be the exception to the rule and she might be wild and rowdy and have a sex scandal already, but she seems sweet to me. And you come up with the most unnecessary, awkward plot-line to get her naked with some old buddy that she "just so happened" to run into on the street. And then he comes close to verbally abusing her with his sexual aggression, which, granted, I know some people like it like that, but I'm also guessing that a lot don't, at least in that kind of situation, right? I mean, if it was me, and my old camp buddy started talking to me like that after not seeing him/her in maybe 7-10 years, I don't like I like being told that s/he "loves eating pussy" after awkwardly being awkwardly encouraged to touch my erection bulging in my track pants on a first date.

Anyway, if you want to exhibit your body to me every week I guess that's your choice, especially since I'm watching it of my own volition, but you don't need to drag other cast members into your strange ratings grab/feminist statement/other, more elaborate reasoning that I don't understand.

That is all.

The wireless signal at a.m.k.'s apartment is called "nevernude."

[Some images lifted from IndieWire.]

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

My mysterious charisma

a.m.k. is on an incredible eight-year winning streak.

I have had about a dozen jobs in my life thus far, ranging from five years long to just three weeks. I've worked at multiple grocery stores and coffee shops, a book store, in high tech, a consulting firm, and in a mall. What is mildly interesting is how I got those jobs, or rather, that I managed to get all those jobs. Somehow, I've gotten pretty much every job I have ever interviewed for.

"Well, a lot of people consider
me small and prestigious."
I am pretty socially awkward. Not quite as socially awkward as perhaps some others are who obsess about school as much as I did. Not quite as socially awkward as other people who were homeschooled as long as I was. But I am a bit socially awkward just the same. I am not someone who I would describe as 100% of people instantly liking at first impression. Part of it might be that I learned social interactions by watching daytime TV, Boy Meets World and Seinfeld, and I only ever practiced those interactions with other people who never left their houses and prayed the rosary at least once a day. And according to recent personality tests that I've taken (fun online ones, not at the Scientology centre on Rideau), I lean pretty heavily towards being an introvert--more than something like 95% of people. I am somewhere between a shut-in and that guy who eats ice cream alone (but never on Bank Street on Sunday--I'm no law-breaker).

Somehow, I've done extremely well for myself. I've managed to settle my social anxiety to a manageable level and to interact successfully with other people. My Interpersonal Relations professor mentioned something in lecture once that I found interesting: true introverts can get very good at faking being an extravert, because to succeed in this world, one almost always has to act extraverted. We live in an outgoing society where you have to be liked. And, as I must begrudgingly accept, I am not very likeable because I'd rather spend my evenings in a warm bath, drinking beer and watching hockey or sitcoms on my laptop. Alone. (Side note: don't worry, I put the laptop on the sink so there's no risk of me dropping it in the tub.)

How I once failed a job interview by lying about being nice

"Throw back a couple shots
of Hennigans and you'll be
as loose as a goose and ready
to roll in no time."
I have had a lot of different jobs, but I've only ever interviewed for one job that I didn't get in my life. That was when I was 15 years old, and it was for McDonald's. I made it to the second interview, and my friend Courtney who worked at another McDonald's prepped me for the types of questions that they'd be asking. I was ready to argue about the importance of serving customers -- even if the french fry timer had just gone off -- because the customer comes first. Instead they asked me about when I last helped people.

Helped people? Don't get me wrong, I was actually a very nice boy. (OK, so that was the age when I was around my peak of my Seinfeld-tinted asshole-ishness; I was still sort of figuring things out.) I even think I was nicer at heart then than I am now, but I definitely didn't show it because I was afraid to. I went to a terrifying grade school and high school where any male friendliness, like a chemical trigger, instantly made everyone around you utter homophobic slurs and throw a desk at you. The point is that I was nice on the inside but put on a huge fake show to try to be cool.

I could have listed some of the nice things I actually did do. I did and do nice things all the time, like volunteering and helping people with homework. But the thought about talking about this openly was so bizarre to me that nothing came to my mind. So, I began by talking about how I helped my co-worker at my other job, which was mistake number one, because McDonald's doesn't want to hire a fifteen year old with another job because they want me to be available to be called in any time. Then, drawing a blank, I made up this impromptu story about how I, yes, helped an old lady cross the street.

I remember actually believing that I had helped an old lady cross the street, and I actually might have at some point -- but there's no way that should have been my example. (I actually helped an old lady walk along an icy patch of sidewalk on Gladstone a couple months ago -- I swear to God. Would I cite that as an example if someone in an interview asked me to talk about how I helped someone recently? Absolutely not. Why? Because it sounds made up.)

"Remember, don't whistle
on the elevator."
Why I'm so successful at interviews now

I wasn't offered the job at McDonald's, but after the other 10-15 interviews I've done, I have been offered the job every single time. Which begs the question: am I really that charming?

I don't think I am. What I think the real problem is is that I have a horrible CV. My theory is, that if I get an interview based on my CV, I am pretty much guaranteed the job because if I wasn't stupidly qualified, I wouldn't even be getting the interview. I once sent out 200 CVs before getting one interview, and I certainly applied to many jobs I thought I was quite qualified for. I've reviewed my CV a million times and I have chunks of good stuff on there, but there must be something -- the layout, the font, the format, or maybe I don't sound like a real person -- that isn't what employers are looking for.

Maybe I'm also not giving myself enough credit. Maybe most people just have trouble answering questions about their past experience or promising they'll show up on time. When someone asks me to explain my experience with editing, I can talk about the editing work I've done over the past several years. Is it possible that other people aren't doing that? Or do I just seem really innocent and thus a good hire who isn't going to dick off and read hockey blogs at work?

"I want you to have this job.
Of course ..."
I'm not sure what makes me a good candidate for all these jobs, but for the most part, my employers are pretty happy with me afterwards -- I do good work and I work fast. But that doesn't explain how they would know that after talking with me for a bit, and why my success rate for interview to job conversion is a hair below 100%. Did Boy Meets World, Seinfeld and Days of Our Lives actually give me good life advice thru their bizarre conflicts and offensive/bad jokes? Or do I just have so much natural charisma that no amount of social awkwardness and homeschooling can stop my ability to show my stuff?

I don't think I am charismatic, and I do think that I've been qualified for all the jobs I've been offered. I just don't understand how I haven't interviewed yet for a job that I either haven't been the best candidate for or just didn't get for whatever other reason. Once a manager and coworker were talking about me finding another job because my contract was almost up, and one of them said all I would need is an interview than I would get any job. Did she know something I don't?

a.m.k. is an experienced writer and editor, and he recently charmed his way into a job editing scientific articles. Much of his editing for the Centretown Nonsense blog is done via text message.