The word “controversial” has long defined Lena Dunham. In truth, it was part of her brand. Certainly, the media and her many fans celebrated her willingness to push boundaries. Her detractors viewed her in a different light though. They questioned her sense of propriety. Equally, Dunham’s critics saw her commitment to social justice as being an extended public relations exercise. Still, as wide as the schism had been between the standpoints of the two groups, it was considerably narrowed after Dunham offered a very public show of support for Girls writer Murray Miller after actress Aurora Perrineau filed a complaint against him for sexual assault. Although Dunham swiftly retracted her declaration, the damage had been done. Her fall from grace was complete.
Many heralded Dunham’s Girls as fresh and original. Fans defended the show from criticism by arguing that it provided a realistic snapshot of millennial women. Furthermore, according to them, the program’s nudity lent it a certain amount of grittiness and authenticity. Those that thought otherwise were simply prudes.
Another issue for some was the lack of diversity on the show. Interestingly, Dunham chose to condemn Hollywood for its dearth of opportunities for people of color. For this, she was branded a hypocrite. Nonetheless, some, including critic Maureen Ryan, defended her.
Nevertheless, this was not the first instance of Dunham’s hypocritical conduct. Her image as a committed soldier in the fight for equality was thrown into question with a piece in the New Yorker. In it, she made a comparison between her Jewish boyfriend and a dog. The magazine promoted it without reserve.
David Remnick, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, brushed aside the resulting disapproval. He even cavalierly and very publicly addressed ADL National Chairman Abraham Foxman’s dismay over the piece. He referred to Lena Dunham as a “comic voice.” He further stated that Foxman was actually “howling in the wrong direction” in light of all of the hatred in the world.
So, Lena was perpetually excused for her comments and actions that were antithetical to the popularly accepted idea of what a social justice warrior is. Unfailingly, she received a pass from her fans and associates until her show of support for Miller. Indeed, as an example, there is Zinzi Clemmons. She only stepped away from her position with Lenny Letter, Dunham’s feminist newsletter, after this incident.
Despite cloaking herself in righteousness on social media, Clemmons still cannot claim any moral high ground. Like everyone else, she was aware of Lena Dunham’s behavior, yet she opted to work with her. Prior to Dunham’s defense of Miller, it was obviously advantageous to be associated with the creator of Girls, but since then, it has become a clear disadvantage. Such fecklessness, however, has merely made Dunham’s newly-minted disparagers look as hypocritical (and bad) as the former social justice warrior icon herself.
[Featured Image by Victor Malafronte/Star Max/IPX/AP Images]