Men: can’t live with them, can’t sink them all to the bottom of the ocean and put them in a maritime prison colony. Option B started looking a little more promising earlier this week, however, when a viral video revealed how many times a woman walking around Manhattan for ten hours might expect to be approached by strange dudes. (What was she wearing? Was she what one might deem an above-average level of attractive? Asking either question is not only beside the point, but raises a host of other questions that are gross and terrible.) The video, a promotion for anti-street harassment organization Hollaback! has been viewed more than 15 million times in 48 hours. Of course, any video that gets embedded in the cultural discourse so deeply and so quickly these days is bound to inspire parody. It’s making such a parody funny, without trivializing the issue at hand, that’s the tricky part.
The team at Funny Or Die wisely decided not to grasp for a comparable indignity that modern men bravely struggle with each day. Because it is impossible to build a case that such a thing exists. The closest thing to unwanted advances men in New York get come from clipboard people who’d like us to switch to green energy or whatever. So while the FOD parody does flip genders, it does so to echo a salient point of the original video–that men enjoy a near-total lack of unwanted romantic advances and don’t even appreciate it.
“10 Hours Of Walking In NYC As a Man” is a wild exaggeration of the male experience. While a more accurate video would simply show a male New Yorker going about his day completely unbothered by anyone who isn’t seeking directions or spare change, this one finds a man receiving constant non-sexual opportunities. He receives invitations to network as well as flat-out job offers, and instead of some guy creepily lurking by his side for far too long, which happened in the original, here a bro high-fives our focal point for five minutes straight. The closest thing to a come-on is when a presumably gay man says, “You look really desirable, but I’m going to respect your privacy.”
The part of the video most likely to raise anyone’s ire is that everybody but everybody here is white–a fact which calls into question why nearly every catcalling space invader in the first video is not white. The racial implications of street harassment, and the way that the most recent video and previous, similar videos chose to depict it, are uncomfortable to pick apart. Making the gender-flipped video also ethnically flipped addresses the issue in too tidy a manner and invites people to harass the video’s makers like so many entitled and horny men on the street.