Lesley Arfin: The Witch Hunt For The Young Female John Derbyshire

When Rich Lowry fired John Derbyshire, that of course excited the witchburner sort of pundits to hunt down more crimethinkers suspected of not taking the reigning racial pieties with full somberness. Attention has thus shifted to an obscure young comedy writer named Lesley Arfin, a staff writer for “Girls.”

That`s the new HBO show that everybody is tweeting about but (virtually) nobody is actually watching. It`s a half-hour downbeat comedy about four not-quite-affluent enough young ladies trying to make it in New York City. It was created by 25-year-old Lena Dunham, writer of the 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture.

I don`t have cable TV, so I haven`t seen Girls. (Here is a rave about the show by Slate`s quite reliable TV critic Troy Patterson, who is just about the best black writer in America whom nobody notices is black.)

Unsurprisingly, there were the usual complaints that all four of the girls on “Girls” are white. 

Arfin, one of Dunham`s staff writers, cheekily tweeted in response: 

“What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.” 

This is in the same vein as Sara Silverman worked: the Evil Innocent (“I don’t care if you think I’m racist; I just want you to think I’m thin”), the young woman too narcissistic to notice the rules about what you are allowed to say about race. 

Silverman`s best joke went:

I got in trouble for saying the word “Ch*nk” on a talk show, a network talk show. It was in the context of a joke. Obviously. That’d be weird. That’d be a really bad career choice if it wasn’t. But, nevertheless, the president of an Asian-American watchdog group out here in Los Angeles, his name is Guy Aoki, and he was up in arms about it and he put my name in the papers calling me a racist, and it hurt. As a Jew—as a member of the Jewish community—I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media.

But Arfin`s tweet is still still pretty good for 140 characters. 

This enraged various moral watchdogs. It`s fascinating how in this Age of Point `n` Sputter, this Era of Not Getting the Joke, how much pride some of these people take in being humorless buffoons. 

On CNN, Soledad O`Brien, the networks go-to gal for all things African-American, and Sharon Waxman were confused and outraged by Arfin`s joke:

“Wow!” Waxman responded. “Wow.” 

The CNN panel momentarily tried to figure out if Arfin’s racially-inflammatory tweet was a joke. 

“Do you think so?” O’Brien asked. “I guess it seems like she’s not necessarily taking the question of representation seriously to me.”

 

The New Yorker called Arfin`s joke “breathtakingly dismissive and intellectually dishonest.”

ThinkProgress whined:

Lesley Arfin, John Derbyshire, Vice, Taki Magazine, and the Lingering Cultural Capital of Racism

 

Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic, who had piled on Derbyshire, entitled her angry piece:

`Girls` Writer Responds to Critique of `Girls` with Horrible Joke

and followed up with:

`Girls` Writer Is Learning There`s No Such Thing as Ironic Racism

Another notoriously butt-hurt site, Gawker, complained:

A Girls Writer’s Ironic Racism And Other ‘White People Problems’

You might think that the best way to complain about a comedy writer`s joke is by making a joke back, especially if your complaints are really intended to get you an affirmative action job writing an HBO show. I mean, there are a lot of complainers in this world, so if HBO is going to have to hire some to write a People of Color sit-com, they might as well hire funny ones. But that kind of thinking is so pre-Trayvon.