5 Things I Learned From Lena Dunham’s Esquire Interview
I am obsessed with the show Girls because I hate it so much. Is it 100% terrible? Nope. It’s 50% misguided though. The show glamorizes the narcissism and self-righteousness of very privileged White girls and then suggests that it is a representation of all girls – the show is called “Girls” for Jebus’ sake. What it does do accurately is portray the young, modern egomaniac very well. The way that Hannah obsesses over Adam, the way Marnie is mad at her boyfriend for loving her too much, and the way everyone makes every experience about themselves without any consideration for their friends and family – that’s precise and well-written. The show seems to lack the ability to realize that these people are living in a bubble where people of color don’t exist or are unacknowledged and where parents are expected to support you until you have “figured things out.” That would be fine if Lena Dunham – Glamour’s Woman of the Year - would ever acknowledge that this is a problem, instead she dismisses criticism as hating.
Here are some notable quotables from her Esquire interview in this December’s issue.
1.) “People are ultimately threatened by young people taking positions of power.”
Sort of. It is worth noting that none of the criticism Lena received was about her age. I am 23 and seeing someone close to my age or younger who is significantly successful inspires two responses in me: “Ugh! What am I even doing with my life?” and “The possibility for success does exist, hmm . . . “
2.) “But there’s also this feeling of I could do that, too. People don’t feel rabidly jealous of Larry David or Salman Rushdie because they don’t think, I could do that. And with what I’ve done, I think a lot of people think, I could do that in my sleep. If I’d just met one person along my path, I would have that TV show.”
Yes, Lena, we’re just jealous. (Is she really comparing herself to Salman Rushdie and Larry David? LOL.) This has never been the criticism of the show. Some writers write about the spectacular and some explore the mundane, both are interesting. Personally, I’ve never thought I could write what Lena writes because I haven’t been “lucky enough” to have such a privileged, Anglo existence. Most of all, I don’t think she is a bad writer. It is difficult to write realistic dialogue the way she does and to create plots that make mountains out of molehills the way she does. She is a good writer, that has never been the problem with her show.
3.) ”I had a liberal-arts education and a huge part of that is just like sitting in class with people who are saying, ‘You know nothing, my godfather died of AIDS!’ It’s a really self-righteous, annoyed, argumentative world. And I loved it.”
This attitude is the very nature and premise of Girls and her movie Tiny Furniture. I had a liberal-arts education too, and she’s right: people are super whiny and narcissistic. However, if I were going to write a show about it I would be critical of it instead of glamorizing it. Giving a voice to young people who have had privileged lives is fine, but why vindicate that problematic self-righteousness without an ounce of self-reflection? Her show is an accurate portrayal of that kind of lifestyle, but that’s why it’s only 50% good. The other half lacks because of it’s overall “Whitness,” but mostly because it illustrates the spoiled brat without ever acknowledging that it’s wrong to be that person.
4. ) ”I don’t wanna engage with people. I think you look crazier when you engage with someone who doesn’t have a fully formed argument.”
You’re a writer and active on social media, you’re job is to be engaging with people. While you shouldn’t let your art be shaped by criticism, you should listen to it when it is constructive.
5. ) “Sometimes I think, Boys were mean to me in high school, so I can take whatever. Of course that doesn’t mean you can handle five thousand commenters saying you’re fat, but it does prepare you for feeling like a weirdo.”
She’s far from fat, nevertheless her character on Girls is obsessed with her weight. Maybe stop discussing that you’re, like, three ounces overweight and we might too?
[Image Via. Glamour]