We dont need more Lena Dunham, and yet Im writing this blog post about her.
We don't need more Lena Dunham, and yet I'm writing this blog post about her. Theo Wargo / Getty

One of the main problems with HBO's Girls was its name: Girls. All of them. Every single one of us. But of course, Girls was never about all girls, it was about its creator and star Lena Dunham, a wealthy white girl living in NYC, and the elite cadre of white women in her life. I was reminded of all of this when reading Allison P. Davis’s excellent profile of Lena Dunham for The Cut that dropped this past Sunday. With razor-sharp clarity, Davis parses out what makes the actress and writer so frustrating: her propensity to make gaffe after gaffe, seemingly learning nothing from each fuck-up, only to be continuously given a platform to say whatever the fuck she wants.

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I'm constantly torn between emphatically not caring about a word that falls out of Dunham's mouth and grabbing popcorn when the latest Dunham drama pops off on Twitter. Perhaps it’s my own little green monster that resents the variety of cultural forces, like her well-off and prominent artistic family, that gave her a sturdy platform to achieve so much at a young age. But I also think that the spectacle around Dunham, her almost constant unsympathetic self-immolation, is what makes it so hard to look away from her, like watching a toddler have a total meltdown in public.

While I would never call myself a fan of Dunham, I’ve certainly followed her work closely for years. I was 17 when Girls first started airing on HBO. I would stealthily watch it in my best friend’s basement after her parents had turned in for the night. The unprettiness and rawness of the characters’ emotions felt more real than the bright, often comedic, candy wrapper-like shine that permeated other single-women-living-their-life type TV shows like Sex and the City. My virgin teen self felt this was definitely what being in your twenties was like.

But the glaring, Unbearable Whiteness of Being of Girls, and the dripping-in-privilege quality of Lena Dunham’s work in general, has always bothered me (and the general public, it seems) more than normal—probably because Dunham's suffered from constant foot-in-mouth syndrome. Over the course of her career, Dunham has accused Odell Beckman Jr. of not wanting to fuck her, jumped to the defense of a male colleague who was accused of raping a black actress, and, most bizarrely, was embroiled in accusations of a pet abandonment. She’s fucked up so many times that there’s even a “Lena Dunham Apologizes” tweet generator account.

All culturally literate twenty-somethings who are funny on Twitter and have listened to, like, Exile in Guyville at least three times are capable of writing a shrewd take on what it means to be in your twenties. But Lena Dunham was given the backing of a network giant and a $150,000 per episode salary, and that's what makes her so hateable. Fuck, for $150,000 alone I could write you a TV show about what it means to be a white woman. Lord knows I’ve watched enough Greta Gerwig films to do so.

What the past six years (eight if you are counting from her silver screen acting/directing/writing debut, Tiny Furniture) have taught me about Dunham’s meteoric rise and continuing cultural relevance is that our media and culture is invested in propping up and hearing out wealthy white women who have Done Wrong. Just look at PAPER's “profile” of Amanda Bynes that was also published this week. It reads like a narrative press release, functioning as a lifeless piece of writing for Bynes to clear the air around her history of racism which was apparently caused by smoking too much weed. To be a white celebrity!

Now with more diverse and interesting female voices in our cultural landscape than ever before (2 Dope Queens, Insecure, Jane the Virgin, The Bisexual, even fucking Broad City), I don't get the constant money and attention flowing to Dunham. Nobody even likes Camping!

I'm part of the problem, but watching a baby absolutely lose its shit in public is sort of soothing. The noise is grating, sure, but there's something so hypnotic about a tiny human totally focused on communicating its own point, completely unaware of itself around others... It's almost admirable. Almost.

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