Hank Moody: Chump

Our TV shows, movies and music give us hints about America as she is and where she is heading, at least as filtered through the eyes of a certain cultural or ethnic niche.

A friend told me I must watch Californication. He said the Hank Moody character closely resembled my life. Michael Blowhard, formerly of 2blowhards, also suggested I check out the show for its excellent portrayal of a man who knows how to game girls. Naturally, I was curious, so I watched all three seasons. I could see the resemblance. Spoilers below, so if you haven’t yet seen the show go whack off to cuteoverload.com.

The show is a blast. Smartly written, funny, and bawdy, with just the right amount of emotional gravitas to leaven the barrage of casual sex, cheating, whoring, drinking and coke snorting. I won’t look at Kathleen “tush toot” Turner the same way again.

Hank Moody is the oversexed main character (played effortlessly by a youthful looking David Duchovny — he was in his late 40s when filming began. One wonders just how much supposed sex addict Duchovny channeled his real life for this character). Moody (get it?) is a charming asshole given to bouts of despondency and a penchant for self-sabotage. He’s a writer with writer’s block who moves to LA from New York. His craving for fresh pussy (and his ability to get it) puts him on a crash course with his desire to fully reunite with his one true love, Karen, and their daughter Becca. You might think of the show in these terms: Hank’s multitudinous lovers are his id, Karen is his ego, and Becca a manifestation of his superego. I think the writers of the show added Becca to ground Hank lest he float away on an endless puffy cloud shaped like a mons pubis.

Any man interested in game should watch this show. Hank Moody practically delivers a clinic on how to properly seduce chicks in nearly every episode. He is the consummate cocky funny jerk women can’t help but love. For example, here is a scene where Hank is flirting with a woman he does not yet know is a prostitute (she later genuinely falls for Hank and offers pro bono services):

Hank: Come on, how come I don’t know your name?

Trixie: You haven’t asked.

Hank: Well, let’s not stand on ceremony. [He hand motions for her to say her name.]

Trixie: Trixie.

Hank: Trixie! That is a terrific name… if you’re a hooker!

Beautiful neg, said with a smile. How many of you guys reading right now would have the balls to pull off that kind of neg on a girl in a bar? You need to get those balls, because that is the kind of edgy, teasing game that fires a woman’s loins.

There are plenty more examples in the show of the right frame to hold with women. For that alone, it is worth watching. But somewhere in the middle of the first season, something began to bother me about the underlying message the show was sending. Finally, after Hank gets into yet another fistfight with a random dude who slighted some random woman, it hits me.

Hank Moody is a white knighting chump. A feminist’s dream. The alpha male who will spill the blood of other men and sacrifice his own self-interest to protect the honor of the lying whores and skanky sluts he bangs whose supposed deep-seated decency Hank can’t stop extolling, even when all evidence points to the contrary.

Think about it for a minute. What is the perfect man in a feminist’s eyes? He is first and foremost that charming cad who gets them wet. We all know the tingle is the necessary ingredient on the way to female fulfillment. Second, he is utterly nonjudgmental, no matter how badly the women in his life behave. Everything, ultimately, is his own fault, and he feels deeply sorry for “hurting” women, even when he can’t help but continue “hurting” them. Third, he will defend a woman’s honor at risk to his own well-being, health and reputation, even when the woman in question has little objective honor worth defending. Fourth, he will forgive everything bad women do to him, absolve them of all their sins (they know not what they do, lord, for they have mere vaginas), and fight those who would disagree.

An egregious example of Hank’s knee-jerk white knighting is in his relationship with the character Mia. Mia is an underage sexpot who seduces Hank in a bookstore and fucks him without telling him her age, then adds insult to injury by punching him in the face, hard, during sex. Later, she steals his newest manuscript (the only one he has written. no copies. what a maroon!), reads it, and passes it off as her own, going so far as to show up at Hank’s agent’s office to pitch her “new book” to a roomful of cackling skank-ho broads who, naturally, love this “new voice”. Throughout the later episodes, there is a constant undercurrent of impending doom awaiting Hank as Mia hints at spilling the beans about Hank’s statutory rape if he should ever decide to reveal she is not the author of his book. In fact, the statutory rape specter is the leaden apparition that haunts the entire show, and infuses it with the drama necessary to propel the plotline forward.

And all through this, Hank barely registers the slightest bit of anger or resentment toward Mia. If anything, he is protective of her, like a father, at one point explaining that she’s “not malicious, just mischievous”.

Hank, you silly stupid fuck, you douchebrained fool. Any sane person would agree that a woman duping a man into a possible statutory rape charge, stealing his labor of love manuscript, passing it off as her own, receiving the financial and social rewards of that book while depriving the true author of same, threatening to scream rape should the aggrieved man reveal the truth, and finally having the man’s ass thrown in jail on rape charges…

is a grade A 100% malicious bitch.

And yet, the writers felt it necessary to infantilize Mia and demonize the men who would treat Mia as the calculating succubus she is.

Is there anything more puke-inducing than unthinking white knighting? If his backasswards behavior in the face of such treachery is supposed to humanize Hank Moody, it doesn’t. It just makes him look like a chump. A fun, sexy chump, to be sure, but a chump just the same. Let’s see if the upcoming season four corrects his doleful trajectory and knocks some sense into his hyperchivalrous melon.

My point of all this is that the underlying message in Californication is not pro-male, or even pro-lothario. It is yet another shot across the bow of dignified, bold manhood, whether that manhood is exemplified in the form of the hapless but successful beta provider character played by Dean Coontz, or in the wanderlusting lothario of Hank Moody. It is not different than the message of any other TV show of the past twenty years churned out by Hollywood –

Men are stupid malcontents, and women are paragons of unassailable virtue.

The writers took the easy way out, which is too bad, because this show could have been more than merely entertaining. It could have been a cultural touchstone.

Which brings me to a larger issue. What the fuck is up with statutory rape? It’s a joke law made up by joke legislators without a scintilla of real world experience with women. Am I supposed to request age identification from every full-bodied young woman who comes onto me? There are 13 year olds out there who look like grown women. At the borderline of 16 to 18 years old, many women could easily pass for mid to late 20s. It is well known by neuroscientists and psychologists studying these things that women mature faster than men. Women’s brains gel into adult-shaped contours sooner. A full breasted and wide-hipped 17 year old hottie who flirts with me knows exactly what she is doing and what she wants. She is no child to be coddled. And yet, I could be thrown in jail if I slept with her assuming she was an older girl, even if it was something we both consensually desired.

This is abject bullshit. The law makes it a necessity to demand age identification with every young woman a man might want to fuck who could conceivably pass for a teenager. This means background checks on women in their 20s. And what about women who lie? They exist, lots of them. Is a statutory rape charge for the man the just response — the *fair* response — to a lying woman who wanted the sex as much as he?

It’s time to end the charade of statutory rape. If the “underage” woman is physically developed, and she consents to the sex, there is no rape charge, period. For chrissakes, there are 14 year olds in parts of the world getting married off and pumping out children of their own.

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