Straight White Men

Sophie Koko Gate

Animation can be a very powerful means of communicating, whether it be selling a product, telling a story or delivering a message. These messages can be informative, empowering and at times divisive. In this case, we have a bold and potentially polarizing statement that is wrapped in an unexpectedly cute and contradictory layer of animation. Regardless of where you stand on the spectrum in regards to the messaging behind this film what it does well is use animation as a means of communicating and starting a conversation.

From the creator:

Lena Dunham jokingly asked her father how he felt about the extinction of white men, but his answer was no joke.
Posted on her Instagram @lenadunham

Director : Sophie Koko Gate
Animation : Sophie Koko Gate, Iris Abols
Sound : Skillbard
Voices : Lena Dunham, Carroll Dunham

Tags: , ,

  • Stephen Kelleher

    What a sexist, self-hating piece of misandry. An awful cow-towing virtue signaling message tailored for the truly lost millennial generation. Cute animation though.

    • Agree completely

    • Irene Feleo

      This kind of thinking (in response to Stephen) is in the same line as ‘All lives matter’ as opposed to Black Lives Matter. Yes, all lives matter. Yes, obviously not all white males are completely terrible people. But what this piece highlights is the privilege that white males have experienced and as a result shaped the world to exclude the voices of anything that doesn’t fit this mould. This piece is saying to step back, to listen, to understand that by virtue of their birth (as a straight white male) their life has been on easy drive compared to the basic rights and struggles that any diversity group has had to fight for. So instead of attacking this line of thinking, take a step back. Look at your position in this dialogue and listen to diverse voices or at the very least, the comedic observation of the lack thereof. The way towards equality and inclusion means lowering the current white straight man privilege and giving voices to others so that one day we can all be on the same level.

      • Stephen Kelleher

        “Yes, obviously not all white males are completely terrible people.” Wow – thank you. “And some, I assume, are good people” – who said that? Hmmm . . .

        Conflating the BLM movement with a gleeful call for the extinction of a whole race, gender and orientation of people are two very separate things. To draw an analogy between them is sloppy and I would suggest is doing yourself and BLM a disservice. When you bring up the notion of ‘privilege’ you yourself need to understand this is an ideology which is currently very popular with the millennial generation, SJW’s and third wave / tumblr feminists. You are speaking from a highly debatable ideological view point which is exclusionary to a whole cross-section of society that negates someone’s opinion and validity based on race, gender and sexual orientation. The fact that people like you who hold this view cannot see this clear irony and the inherent racist and sexist biases here is stunning. Moreover this is currently *the* popular view amongst the millennial generation, it has recently been coined ‘The Culture of Shut Up’. I think you’ll find that nobody is silencing your opinion, I would ask that you not try to silence mine because I happen to be white and male.

        I have long defended the rights of women, minorities and the LGBTQ community but people like you would assume you know everything about me and my opinions based on my skin color, apparent gender, assumed orientation and infer not only ‘privilege’ and ignorance, but also complicit and malevolent intent because of it. Before recommending others take a step back, perhaps you should do the same. Equality and inclusion *cannot* come by the “lowering” or silencing of *any* one demographic no matter how prevalent their global position in the past. I encourage you to read my original comment again and you’ll see that I call for all voices to be heard, the end to demonization of all people and therefore conclude that divisive messages are not helpful to achieving this goal, a goal which you say you want to achieve too.

        • Irene Feleo

          Not trying to silence your opinion – I am merely bringing to light the problems I see with what you are seemingly so quick to take offense to. I never said I know what your beliefs are and it’s great that you defend the rights of women, minorities and LGBTQ as all people should. It seems like we are on the same side essentially, but what I think is an issue is how your previous comment attacked this motion piece as if a) you could not see the comedic hyberpole of the recorded dialogue and b) you did not see that the main message was about the importance of diversity in voices.

          When I said take a step back I am saying listen. Because your original comment emphasizes the offense and generalisation of the straight white male demographic, I worry that your listening ended there. I find it problamatic that you were quick to label me a ‘millenial tumblr feminist’ as if it’s a bad thing. You defend womens rights and support equality so we are all feminists – hurrah! A common ground. I guess what to unpack now is whether this animation really is a ‘sexist, self-hating piece of misandry’. I don’t believe it is.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            Although you say you’re not trying to silence my opinion, you are effectively telling me I have not ‘heard’ the true message to say nothing of the clear message of the animation which is to shut up and die off if you’re white and male and straight. Nothing in the animation escaped me – and your response did nothing to enlighten me to anything other than how a message of exclusion, sexism and misandry seems so acceptable and even defendable to a younger generation. Let me clear if I haven’t been up to this point – I personally find absolutely nothing comedic about the original dialogue and it’s implications; sexism, racism, widespread demonization and a wished-for genocide doesn’t quite do it for me in the humor department. You assert that the main message is about diversity in voices – I think it’s quite clear the message is about the silencing and extinction of one particular voice which you re-iterated in your original response; two very different things.

            I listened, I critiqued and now I’m been told to listen again. I really do get where Lena Dunham and her father, the animation director who doubles down on the message with visual metaphors of oppression and you are coming from. And let me be clear about my position in terms of feminism – although I do stand for and with those who seek equality, today’s feminists (tumblr / millennial / third wave) are absolutely not concerned with equality but rather the suppression and discrediting of male voices despite what Dictionary.com tells you – that ain’t equal and you’ve done a great job as a self confessed ‘millennial tumblr feminist’ exemplifying how that is the case.

            To your last point I think the larger problematic issue to ‘unpack’ is how someone supposedly concerned with equality and inclusion can defend a message which clearly intends to vilify and dismiss a huge portion of the population for nothing other than their inherent skin color, sexual orientation gender. The cognitive dissonance is real.

          • Irene F

            Alright – I see where you are coming from. Comedy is a slippery slope because I do see this as comedic hyperbole ( the ‘comedy should punch up, not down’ point of view), whereas you see it as vilifying an entire demographic with a an actual wish for genocide. It is not my intention to do either of those things as im sure it wasnt for the director/lena dunham parties involved. I saw this as a piece that observes the lack of diversity and asks for more voices to be heard. Im trying to bridge the gap between our two viewpoints and along the way of navigating complex ideas and ways of thought things are going to shift and change.

            I do think third wave feminism does have a bad rep but for misconstrued reasons – it isnt about suppressing or discrediting voices it’s about being heard. There are going to be extremes in any movement and its unfortunate you identify the tumblr/millenial/third wave in this light.

            What else to say? I admit I came guns a-blazin but your point has been made. You say you understand where I am coming from so I hope mine has to!

          • Stephen Kelleher

            Nuance is tricky and issues around race, gender and sexual identity are perhaps more fraught with misunderstanding than at any other time in Western history. You shouldn’t feel compelled to re-engineer a blunt and crude message to fit what perhaps is your more hedged message of inclusion; one is (in my eyes) indefensible, the other might merit it’s own exploration as a piece of animation.

            You say third wave feminism is about being heard – this gets back to the essence of what is so problematic about this message; I believe *everyone* deserves the right to be heard. It seems Lena / Mr. Dunham and those who like their message disagree with this should you be white, male and straight. If third wave feminists begin to critique this galling disparity between their stated intent of equality and their acceptance and apologetics when it comes to these kind of messages, I might just change my mind about their movement. But I’m not holding my breath.

            I do want to say however that I appreciate your willingness to engage in this debate – so glad that we can both have a platform to say how we feel regardless of our gender, race and orientation. Long may that continue.

          • Kris

            I appear to be jumping in a bit late on this discussion, but surely you see the hypocrisy of taking offence at being called out on recognising white male privilege while at the same time demonizing ‘SJW’s and third wave / tumblr feminists’, using language pulled straight from the notoriously racist, sexist and homophobic alt-right community.

            You’re clearly a progressively minded individual who does indeed want equality across the board but you’ve bought into a lot of disinformation about groups you really should be allied with.

            As a straight white male myself I understand that sometimes calls for equality can feel like an attack, but trust me when I say it’s more fun to be in on the joke than to get angry when you don’t understand the punchline. In terms of comedy white males are fair game because they are top of the pile, don’t fight it, white males have achieved a lot over the years and that’s something to be proud of, but learn how to laugh at yourself and acknowledge that we are in a position of insane institutional privilege.

            Feminism is about equality. Sometimes humour helps people deal with horrible situations. If you feel you’re being attacked because of your race or gender, please remember that everyone else has had to deal with those same attacks for the entire history of the human race. Except in those instances no one was joking, You are incredibly lucky to be who you are.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            Reading your response I think perhaps I gave the impression that I misinterpreted the message of the animation or am completely unfamiliar with the tenants, history and current motives of the regressive left and modern feminism. Believe me, I am not. So allow me to break down my response to each of the points you make one by one and clearly … heaven forbid I have been confused as a misguided ally of misandrists …

            “surely you see the hypocrisy of taking offence at being called out on recognising white male privilege while at the same time demonizing ‘SJW’s and third wave / tumblr feminists’, using language pulled straight from the notoriously racist, sexist and homophobic alt-right community.”

            – I fail to see how using terms which existed long before the rise and Milo Yiannopoulos / the alt-right is hypocritical. Using a common syntax we are bound to does not a ‘racist, sexist or homophobe’ make. SJW’s refer to themselves as such, third wave feminists simply recognize their position in the unfolding history of the movement which they too recognize and if leveling the term ’tumblr feminist’ puts me in the same bracket as people who call for the silence and extinction of a specific race and gender of people then I would have to conclude your analysis at best is somewhat flawed, at worst is a clumsy attempt to lump me in with a supposed hate movement because I am not towing the feminist line.

            “You’re clearly a progressively minded individual who does indeed want equality across the board but you’ve bought into a lot of disinformation about groups you really should be allied with.”

            – Don’t tell me who I should be allied with. Feminists / misandrists of this ilk are my enemy as are any supporters of this message who would have me and any other people who simply look like me, hobbled with shame for the body I was born into and silenced for it. I would also suggest that if you cannot see those who hope for your own extinction as your clear enemy, then you don’t know an enemy when you see one.

            “As a straight white male myself I understand that sometimes calls for equality can feel like an attack, but trust me when I say it’s more fun to be in on the joke than to get angry when you don’t understand the punchline.”

            – This response and that of Mr. Dunham’s always makes me wonder – why do these people hate themselves so much? All that white knight virtue signaling has me thinking you’ve been drinking the neo-liberal kool aid for too long. This piece is *not* a call for equality – this is a validation for racists, misandrists and sexists – the opposite (as if it needs to be stated) of equality. Look at the video again. You also characterize my response as being angry – far from it, my feelings are more akin to sadness at the state of things where messages of hate towards a particular demographic is acceptable by supposed egalitarians and pity for the apologists who feel compelled to contort themselves intellectually to make it somehow excusable.

            “In terms of comedy white males are fair game because they are top of the pile, don’t fight it, white males have achieved a lot over the years and that’s something to be proud of, but learn how to laugh at yourself and acknowledge that we are in a position of insane institutional privilege.”

            – I’m sorry, I must have missed the ‘comedy’ of this message . . . read my above responses to see why this piece did not strike me as funny in the least. Comedy and parody have long been the best weapon against those in power – I am a huge fan of political dissent and know how historically fundamental this has been to ensuring our freedom of thought, speech and democracy. It is because of my reverence for such a tradition that I will vehemently oppose *any attempt* to have my voice or anyone else’s silenced. I remember clearly where the supposed liberals and the left wing media stood (in complete silence) when the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were blown to pieces for exercising their right to free speech by lampooning Muhammad. I believe no person or idea should be free of ridicule and in positions of power what we do or don’t do to uphold freedom of speech is what matters. Why would you side with those who want to silence you?

            “Feminism is about equality.”

            – Nope, not any more.

            “If you feel you’re being attacked because of your race or gender, please remember that everyone else has had to deal with those same attacks for the entire history of the human race. Except in those instances no one was joking, You are incredibly lucky to be who you are.”

            – So uh . . . two wrongs make a right? If I was the subject of attacks because of my race or gender I’d like to think that would make me more likely to fight against those who spread that kind of hate speech, not more likely to participate in it. You can recognize and empathize with other people’s struggle without accepting your own denigration. You can fight against the injustices in the world without it requiring your own debasement at the feet of those who despise you for how you were born. You’re not evil and worthy of extinction because of the color of your skin, who you are attracted to or your genitalia. Then again if you want to co-sign the message of this piece as a white straight male, nobody can stop you. Self-sacrifice is noble, self-hate is to be pitied.

          • Kris

            Lena Dunham is not calling for the the extinction of the straight while male. She is attempting to use comedic hyperbole to poke fun at the sort of thin skinned men’s rights activists who claim misandry and genocide every time someone suggests equality.

            You then came in here swinging wildly at feminists and SJW’s and unwittingly made yourself the butt of the joke.

            Her father doesn’t hate himself, he’s secure enough in himself to get the joke, and to understand his way of life is not actually under threat.

            No one is literally calling for straight white male genocide, and if they are then I obviously oppose that, and I think you’ll find most SJW’s will too.

            You’re complaining about unfair demonization of yourself and your kind while at the same time demonizing feminists and millennials. You claim to be for social justice while deriding social justice warriors. Well, social justice needs to be fought for, and if that makes you uncomfortable maybe you’re not as progressive as you thought?

          • Geez, Stephen, can’t you READ BETWEEN THE LINES? Don’t you get the HUMOR? It’s all jokes! :/ Nice that the anonymous writers can correct your way of viewing it since you are obviously wrong in YOUR OPINION. God bless America.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            @Kris

            “Lena Dunham is not calling for the the extinction of the straight while male. She is attempting to use comedic hyperbole to poke fun at the sort of thin skinned men’s rights activists who claim misandry and genocide every time someone suggests equality.”

            – That’s a lot of assertions you’ve made there. I will instead take these people at their word, his voice is very matter of fact and I think sincere in his belief that all white straight men are problematic and should shut up and hopefully will be extinct soon. It’s pretty plain despite the cutesy illustrations layered on top. As for ‘thin skinned’ – I challenge you to make an animation calling for the same treatment of say . . . black women in America and be prepared for the ‘thin skinned’ masses to misunderstand your comedic hilarity.

            “You then came in here swinging wildly at feminists and SJW’s and unwittingly made yourself the butt of the joke.”

            – I think SJW’s and feminists like yourself did a fine job of that themselves, but I’ll let the readers of these comments be the judge.

            “Her father doesn’t hate himself, he’s secure enough in himself to get the joke, and to understand his way of life is not actually under threat.”

            – Again, a lot of assertions … wait, Mr. Dunham? is that you???!

            “No one is literally calling for straight white male genocide, and if they are then I obviously oppose that, and I think you’ll find most SJW’s will too.”

            – The regressive left have been pushing further and further in recent decades. The mere fact that this video can be read by people like you as an off-the-cuff joke is a sign of how far things have gone. Hey SJW’s – equality doesn’t mean telling people they’re not equal or their opinions are unworthy because of their skin color, orientation or gender – just a little tip!!!

            “You’re complaining about unfair demonization of yourself and your kind while at the same time demonizing feminists and millennials. You claim to be for social justice while deriding social justice warriors.”

            – I haven’t demonized anyone; I’ve replied to the ideas of the two feminists in the video, the feminist who replied in these comments and you – who I’m guessing is both a proud if somewhat tone deaf SJW and feminist (both so often go hand in hand I find). Why tone deaf? Because feminists and SJW’s are so enamored with their own altruistic world view that they cannot believe – as you’ve exemplified in this response – that a woman might actually have ill-will towards men or that a white straight male who sees himself by virtue of his very existence as problematic, has suffered so much psychological damage as to be spouting self-hate. Also, I would never claim to be for the SJW cause – because I want equality does not make me a SJW or a feminist, despite what dictionary.com tells you.

            “Well, social justice needs to be fought for, and if that makes you uncomfortable maybe you’re not as progressive as you thought?”

            – I never professed to be ‘progressive’ but I’ll tell you this – my progressiveness will stop at the line where I am told my race, gender or orientation disqualifies me automatically. Here and no further. And if in the eyes of someone like you or Mr. Dunham that makes me less than progressive, then I’ll wear that as a badge of honor.

            @Justin

            Feminists and SJW’s truly do have the best sense of humor in the world!!! How uptight of me – laugh riot!!! They also seem compelled to make everyone see things their way. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how a free society works – COMPLY OR DIE!!!!

          • Kris

            If you can’t tell the difference between a joke and an actual literal call to genocide then what can I say? You’re free to believe that Lena Dunham pines for the extinction of the straight white male if you want.

            I don’t know what to tell you man, you’re complaining about being silenced while actively trying to silence minority groups. You’re tilting at windmills. You’re whipping up phantasms of genocidal feminists and self-hating men laid low by the matriarchy. I’m telling you they don’t exist in any meaningful way. They’re strawmen created by MRA’s and the alt-right. You’re looking for evil where none exists. No true feminist would seriously call for genocide.

            On the flip side, I obviously can’t make jokes disparaging black women because, in comedy terms, that would be punching down. You’re only allowed to punch up. As straight white men, we are at the top of the pile. Hooray! Good for us! Let’s try and take it in stride for now, and one day when equality has been achieved we can all make terrible jokes about each other! I hope so!

            The truth is our voices have been so loud for so long that now that other people are starting to speak up it can feel like we’re being told to be quiet. You’re not being disqualified, you’re just being asked to let other people be heard too.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            “If you can’t tell the difference between a joke and an actual literal call to genocide then what can I say? You’re free to believe that Lena Dunham pines for the extinction of the straight white male if you want.”

            I do.

            “you’re complaining about being silenced while actively trying to silence minority groups.”

            Wait what? How am I – by participating in an open dialogue through dissent, asking that all voices be heard with reasoned argument “actively trying to silence minority groups.” I think you’ve jumped the shark there.

            “You’re tilting at windmills. You’re whipping up phantasms of genocidal feminists and self-hating men laid low by the matriarchy. I’m telling you they don’t exist in any meaningful way. They’re strawmen created by MRA’s and the alt-right. You’re looking for evil where none exists. No true feminist would seriously call for genocide.”

            – And that’s what you believe! Again – I’m replying to the sentiments of the Dunham’s, echoed by the feminist who replied and yourself. I don’t need straw men to argue against, just your own words, biases and beliefs.

            “On the flip side, I obviously can’t make jokes disparaging black women because, in comedy terms, that would be punching down. You’re only allowed to punch up.”

            – Wow – how patronizing! Hear that black women??? White knight over here thinks you’re below him and it would be unfair to treat you as an equal with a sense of humor or ability to defend yourself! Be very careful saying that to a black woman in person, you just might be at the end of a punch yourself.

            “As straight white men, we are at the top of the pile. Hooray! Good for us! Let’s try and take it in stride for now, and one day when equality has been achieved we can all make terrible jokes about each other! I hope so!”

            – Again, your worldview telling me where I am in the grand scheme of things and how to move forward with your ideological mission … you really don’t get it – I am not your ally and fundamentally disagree with you on what constitutes equality and how it is to be achieved. Go sell it to someone a little less attuned to your shtick.

            “The truth is our voices have been so loud for so long that now that other people are starting to speak up it can feel like we’re being told to be quiet. You’re not being disqualified, you’re just being asked to let other people be heard too.”

            – Well again, we’re covering ground I have replied to several times already, in several ways. It’s okay that you don’t see things like I do, that’s what our wonderful western free society is all about. And I’m thankful for that.

          • Kris

            The take away from this discussion is that you, a reasonable and otherwise functional adult, truly believe Lena Dunham literally and without hyperbole wants the total genocide and complete extinction of the straight white male. I am glad we cleared that up.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            That’s *your* take away.

            My takeaway is that neoliberalism has created a blind spot which every one of its acolytes fails to see; one of racism, sexism and bigotry. Worse still, is that it has made these messages of hate palatable, excusable and even understandable by people who believe they are fighting for equality. I am glad I have a platform and a voice that can be heard to express that.

          • Kris

            The thing is not everyone has a platform and a voice that can be heard. You might have to share yours, and I’m sorry if you feel like that’s an attack.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            Being asked to share a platform is not an attack – being told I need to shut up and die off is something quite different. I’m sorry if you can’t see the difference.

          • Kris

            No one is telling you that champ, but keep fighting those strawmen.

          • Stephen Kelleher

            You must not have watched the video we’re discussing champ. It’s linked at the top of the page.

      • There are so many assumptions and demands in this response it’s frightening. The neo-liberal mind is a thing to behold. If a ‘comedic observation’ is racist, that somehow makes it palatable. That’s the joke.

  • Lolagigabytes

    Well said, Stephen.