Though Patrick Wilson went on Chelsea Lately to discuss his latest film The Conjuring, the show veered toward a topic that Wilson was all too familiar with — the controversy over his guest spot on Girls. Wilson, who played a bachelor who has a casual fling with Lena Dunham's character Hannah on the HBO series, admits that he was appalled by the backlash that his one episode stint on the show received. After the episode aired, Twitter was abuzz with tweets about how Patrick Wilson was way too hot to hookup with someone "like Lena Dunham"... aka someone who society would call "less attractive" than Wilson. Ouch.
“It was awful," Wilson said of the fan reaction to the guest spot. "It was very strange, because, it’s one thing for someone to sort of talk about, ‘I would never believe a character like yours would do that.’ But all of a sudden people were tweeting, ‘Patrick Wilson would never have sex with this kind of woman!’ I mean, it was brutal.”
While it's great that Patrick Wilson is defending his role on Girls, as opposed to staying silent about the backlash, Wilson's defense doesn't get to the root of the larger issues at play here.
Yes, it's important for Wilson to say that he thinks that the controversy is brutal, but this issue is about way more than just one hot guy's opinion — it's about how much emphasis is placed on a woman's looks as a bar for her "worthiness" to men. After all, Lena Dunham's character is the embodiment of a regular woman, and calling out Dunham for not being attractive enough to hook up with a hottie, even onscreen, is basically like shaming every person who is less than physically perfect. Would a guy really never look twice at a girl like Hannah because he didn't consider her the physical ideal? Or, would he look at some of her other attributes before writing her off? In reality, it's the latter ... yet the stigma is still there that a woman must be a physical 10 in order to score a great-looking guy.
While many may say that Girls represents a physically "mismatched" couple, and that the show portrayed something completely unrealistic, this issue never seems to come up when the roles are reversed. In the film Just Go With It, average-looking Adam Sandler hooked up with both Brooklyn Decker AND Jennifer Aniston, two women who are consistently rated as hotties. Adam Sandler? Funny, maybe, but definitely not on too many people's list of Most Attractive.
In Knocked Up, a pothead with a potbelly version of Seth Rogen has Katherine Heigl fall into bed with him without him putting in all that much effort. Even kids' films like the animated Beauty and the Beast have ingrained in our minds that a woman can learn to love someone less attractive than she is. But the reverse? Not unless she has a She's All That-esque transformation first.
Lena Dunham responded to the criticism as well, stating:
"I get so tired of having to cry out 'misogyny,' but that's what's going on in this situation. People questioning the idea that a woman could sleep with a man who defied her lot in the looks bracket hews so closely to these really outdated ideas about what makes a woman worth spending time with. Really?"
While it's nice that Wilson isn't afraid to talk about how crazy it is that people are reacting so strongly to his sex-scene with Lena Dunham, it's not doing much for the double-standard that exists in today's media. We need to remember the double standards that women face in the media — and why we were all so quick to criticize a little HBO sex-scene.