Lena Dunham has never been shy about the autobiographical nature of her HBO series Girls. Just like her character Hannah, Dunham struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, lives in New York and wants to become “the voice of a generation.” Lena is taking similar steps with her book of essays Not That Kind of Girl out Tuesday — a bare-all book about her life. Dunham’s book will feature a “roving literary Burning Man” where Lena and other female writers will speak — but until today, if weren’t already famous, you wouldn’t get paid.
A few months ago, Dunham asked fans to send her videos of them performing whatever they thought they could do on a stage — with an up-front advisement that they would not be getting paid. After a backlash across social media, Dunham announced Monday evening that she would be compensating the fans she had chosen for the project.
Even though Lena made a quick response to the controversy, she did make an embarrassing, albeit well-timed mistake just in front of her scheduled book release. Another artist, singer Amanda Palmer, invoked ire for a similar action last year when she made a call for unpaid musicians to play with on her tour. Palmer like Lena ended up paying her hired hands after the fall out.
Lena’s choice to not pay her crowdsourced performers was especially scrutinized given the fact that Lena was recently estimated by Forbes to have annual earnings of about $6 million — with a $3.7 million advance for Not That Kind of Girl.
Critical response of Lena Dunham’s book will probably, like that of Girls, devolve into a criticism of Millennials and feelings about Lena herself. In fact, a lot of the early press already has — a review in The New Statesmen broke down all of the reasons there were to hate Dunham with few references to actual book.
“She writes in the book: “When I am playing a character, I am never allowed to explicitly state the takeaway message of the scenes I’m performing—after all, part of the dramatic conflict is that the person I’m portraying doesn’t really know it yet.” The same applies to most of the book: Her whole life is a performance art piece where she plays a noxious brat with great skill, and poses herself, either eerily like one of her mother’s dolls, or sexually, like her father’s nudes. And as the carapace of fame around her has expanded, she has shrunk within it, leaving only gnomic statements about granola and blowjobs. Reading this book, you realize that Lena Dunham has been playing “Lena Dunham” for a long time. She is not real.”
[Image via NBC]