Subscribe via RSS Feed

Dunham

[ 86 ] October 11, 2012 |

Ta-Nehisi Coates is correct. The attacks on Lena Dunham as the ultimate purveyor of white privilege in the arts are utterly bizarre. This isn’t to say Dunham doesn’t benefit from white privilege or shouldn’t think of casting non-whites in her show, but she hardly benefits more than anyone else and is hardly more guilty than anyone else.

Comments (86)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Scott Lemieux says:

    As soon as Peter Beinart returns the mid-six-figure advance he got for his “liberal hawk” book that had maximum sales potential of about 40 copies, I’ll consider whether I should be upset that Lena Dunham got a book deal. (The answer to the latter would still be “no,” of course.)

  2. There’s some legitimate book advance criticism, I think, about class privilege and connections providing luxurious benefits that haven’t really been earned. Race is obviously all mixed up in that but is a periphery issue in this case, seems like.

    The racial criticism about the show was kind of overblown but was also a response to the reception of the show hailing it as some kind of breakthrough in television. When a show is receiving praise like that while also being a particularly egregious example of certain kinds of bias/privilege/blindness/whatever there will be and should be push back against that.

    That said there was/is a lot of piling-on and some truly disgusting body image cretinism that just makes the whole thing a big mess.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      If it’s overrated, then it should be criticized on the basis of it being overrated. If Dunham casted an actress of Indian ancestry in one of the roles, it would still be a crap show.

    • david mizner says:

      It would probably be less true to real life if those people had meaningful relationships with people of color. A very white world, that.

      What would be welcome if Dunham — via her characters or otherwise — showed any awareness of that fact. Also woulda been nice if a Girls writer, a skinny white woman, hadn’t responded to the controversy by quipping that she didn’t see herself represented in the movie Precious.

      • Yeah, there was that stuff; the first speaking role for a black character going to a maid; the lack of diversity even in establishing shots or street scenes; the real-life counterparts of some New York neighborhoods and communities depicted as lily-white absolutely having a lot of diversity.

        It went a little beyond the standard malpractice of yer typical show, and once it started getting attention for being groundbreaking/visionary it deserved to be a lightning rod for that stuff.

        There was a lot of criticism that was undeserved, o’course. Personally every time I read something with the name “Lena Dunham” I pronounce it at least once in my head as “laudanum ham” and I get upset that’s not an actual thing.

    • Lindsay Beyerstein says:

      I’m not sure Lena Dunham’s any more of a poster girl for class privilege than your average TV show-runner. Almost all of them are at least upper middle class and went to elite universities.

      Dunham’s parents are well-known visual artists, which is like being a very well known jazz big band leader–that and $2.00 will get you a ride on the subway.

      There’s a lot of unsubstantiated magical thinking behind in the assumption that her parents’ modest, ultra-niche fame gives them pull at HBO. Joss Whedon is a 3rd-generation TV writer. That’s the kind of connection that might actually propel a TV career, but nobody rubs it in his face at every opportunity.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        This, this, this.

      • That soft-pedals Dunham’s parents’ role in her career, I think.

        Dunham’s parents bought an apartment building with writer/producer Lawrence Konner in 2001, and her mom produced a short film starring Meryl Streep. Dunham herself was featured in Vogue as a pre-teen, and had drawings and video shorts shown in, and hosted galas at, prestigious museums while still in college. She submitted her early films straight to the head of SXSW (after the deadlines, too). After a SXSW award she got two articles written about her in the NYT, partially because of her parents and from the multiple premieres of Tiny Furniture in places like MoMA.

        Judd Apatow ain’t throwing his weight behind her unless the above happens, and the above happens because of her family connections. Especially since the person who brought Dunham to Apatow’s attention and encouraged his involvement in the first place was Jennifer Konner, daughter of Larry.

        The comparison to Whedon is, I think, instructive. It took Whedon two years out of college to get on the writing staffs of a few sitcoms, and it was only after he got nominated for an Oscar that he got his own show. He was absolutely the beneficiary of nepotism, but more in the sense of getting a start in the system and being able to build up a body of work within that system. Dunham’s career depends much more on her family connections whipping up a reaction to her independent work and acting as a springboard to allow her to avoid mucking about in lower-level jobs.

        Even so, Whedon is still a good example of the way nepotism works. But Dunham is a better one, seems like.

        • Anonymous says:

          The fact that you know the kind of details provided in the first para actually proves the opposite point. Folk have gone considerably out of their way to dig up what they sense is “dirt” on the nepotism inherent in Dunham’s career in a way and with the vehemence that would not be appropriate for a man in a comparable position. There’s a desperate desire to “prove,” by virtue of such banal details, that her success is “unfair.” Had she been working class or a WoC, the results would be much the same; a bunch of white men complaining about affirmative action and tokenism.

          • You can have arguments about affirmative action and tokenism with someone else. I’m talking about class and money, and was responding specifically to the idea that Dunham’s parents/background didn’t play a large role in her getting to a venerated position at a young age.

            And I do think Dunham’s different than the typical nepotism story. Compare her to someone like Michael Schur, who of course only got a job writing SNL because he went to Harvard and wrote for the Lampoon. Dating Regis Philbin’s daughter didn’t hurt, either. But he spent six years writing for SNL and another three or four as a staff writer for a sitcom (The Office) before he got his own show (Parks and Recreation), also under the tutelage of an old television hand (Greg Daniels).

            Of course Dunham’s under more scrutiny than if she were a man. And she’s getting criticism for the social context she and her show takes place in, which can seem unfair. But I don’t see why claims that her parents didn’t do much to get her where she is shouldn’t be rebutted, or why a show that has shown larger-than-usual blind spots common to someone of her background shouldn’t be criticized for them. That kind of stuff is pernicious, just like unfair gendered criticisms of Dunham are, and I don’t think they should be swept under the rug just because those other gendered criticisms exist.

            In some sense this is just an arena for the old fights of different conceptions of liberal politics to play themselves out. I think it’s reasonable and necessary to vigorously defend someone from a traditionally-excluded viewpoint when they start having success and are criticized in the predictable ways. Does it justify white-washing the ways in which the traditional power structure was utilized in a fairly unique and privileged way? Or downplaying the ways in which her work has somewhat larger blindspots in the typical ways for someone from her background? It’s class versus gender/identity politics, yet again, and I think the way out of the circular firing squad is to stare things in the face, not white-wash anything, defend Dunham against the unfair critiques and encourage the legitimate ones.

  3. mark f says:

    Yes. While I liked the first season of Girls, I could understand why others might not. But I never figured out why the show and Lena Dunham became the avatars of unfair privilege. Freddie de Boer wrote a post on balloon-juice explaining why she in particular deserved scorn but I gave up after reading the first 500 paragraphs of his introduction.

    • Anonymous says:

      :>) Freddie does tend to go on.

    • david mizner says:

      Freddie, whom I like, didn’t seem to understand that a show can be politically progressive without offering a straightforward Marxist critique of capitalism.

    • 4jkb4ia says:

      Didn’t know there was any such post. This does great damage to my hypothesis that you can skip a month at Balloon Juice and miss nothing.

    • Ed says:

      But I never figured out why the show and Lena Dunham became the avatars of unfair privilege.

      It might have something to do with the fact that she and the featured actresses on the show are all well-connected white girls fortunate in the parent department and Dunham’s show is a)heavily advertised and heavily praised and b)not that great. Connections and good fortune in the parent department are often a good deal more than half the battle in this world and that’s particularly true in show business. Dunham is talented, sure, but a certain amount of backlash is unsurprising. Somehow I expect she’ll manage to rise above it.

      • david mizner says:

        Might have something to do with the fact that she doesn’t read “star” — doesn’t have a magazine bod — so men and probably some women too assume she got where she is because of connections as opposed to (in my view) obvious talent and bravery.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        It might have something to do with the fact that she and the featured actresses on the show are all well-connected white girls fortunate in the parent department

        If this made her show different than the vast majority of shows with network deals — the vast majority of which aren’t remotely as good — your point would be considerably more persuasive.

        • Ed says:

          I didn’t say “Girls” was the first show to feature second-generation celebrities of one degree or another. You will also note I acknowledged Dunham’s talent. I don’t know offhand of any shows featuring a quartet of stars with such famous/connected parents. As to the quality of “Girls,” I’d say it is highly variable, but opinions will differ.

          Might have something to do with the fact that she doesn’t read “star” — doesn’t have a magazine bod

          Sarah Jessica Parker has taken her share of hits for not being a conventional beauty. (None of the SATC women were save Kristin Davis.)

          • mark f says:

            So according to your observation Girls is an ordinary show made the kind of talented people who ordinarily make television shows. And it was marketed by its network. Therefore, Lena Dunham is the symbol of all that is wrong in the world.

            This . . . doesn’t really answer the question at all.

          • vacuumslayer says:

            I dunno. I think Kim Cattrall is pretty darn attractive.

          • nixnutz says:

            I don’t buy that the cast is particularly blessed in that sense, the Mamet girl, her dad is very famous for a playwright and he’s directed 10 films which have grossed $60 million all together, her reflected star power is a small fraction of Dakota Johnson or Rashida Jones’. Plus she came up by doing a bunch of guest spots where she was very good and memorable, she definitely earned this part.

            None of the other four are remotely famous in any real sense, this has been blown way out of proportion. This TV season alone I can name Johnson, Jones, Martha Plimpton, Scott Caan, Damon Wayans Jr., Laura Dern, Campbell Scott, Miguel Ferrer, and I’m sure there are a bunch more I’m forgetting. Girls is unremarkable. Dunham’s certainly no Coppola, and even they’ve mostly earned their keep.

            I’m more concerned with these half-assed second generation politicians.

        • piny says:

          But it’s not that. I don’t think she’s being singled out as different from people like Aaron Sorkin and Joss Whedon. The point is that she’s the same. Lena Dunham is being treated like a creative feminist superhero, even though she’s making mistakes that feminists pillory dudes for making. It’s not, “Lena Dunham is the most racist EVER!” but “The Lena Dunham love represents a huge white-feminist blind spot wrt women who are not them.” If this were a critically-acclaimed show about young New Yorkers that included zero three-dimensional women characters, mainstream feminists would recognize that as egregious sexism–downright anachronistic sexism–and they’d be saying really nasty things about its writers and fans. But no people of color and suddenly the problem is invisible. That is a problem.

  4. Historiann says:

    Thanks for this post. This is pretty typical of the outrage at any successes that young (or youngish) white women have, an outrage that never manifests itself when it comes to the dominance of white men in politics, publishing, business, etc. (Remember all of the outrage directed at Sarah Palin, after 8 years of GWB; all of the criticism of Sex and the City for its all-white cast, versus the absence of criticism of shows featuring white men.)

    I’m unsurprised to learn about Andrew Sullivan’s rage, as his misogyny is usually proudly on display.

    • Ed says:

      (Remember all of the outrage directed at Sarah Palin, after 8 years of GWB; all of the criticism of Sex and the City for its all-white cast, versus the absence of criticism of shows featuring white men.)

      If anything, Dunham has benefited from the Sex and the City backlash – I’ve noticed that people whose dislike of SATC had a noticeable sexist tinge seem to be going out of their way to praise “Girls” (often as a sort of anti-SATC). Perhaps Judd Apatow’s seal of approval has something to do with it.

      I tend to agree that the “it’s racist” criticism of Girls is beside the point.

    • nixnutz says:

      I think it would be interesting to contrast the reactions to Dunham and to Whitney Cummings last year. They’re both young white women from privileged backgrounds but the criticisms were pretty different. The consensus seemed to be that both of Cummings’ shows were pretty poor and 2 Broke Girls was unrepentantly racist but she didn’t get called out for those things the way Dunham did. And yet while there were plenty of things one could fairly criticize her for a huge proportion of what I saw was misogynistic nonsense which I think speaks to your point.

      Also I bring him up because he directed an episode of Girls, but no one gives Jesse Peretz a hard time and his dad is famous for being a racist asshole. I guess two features and a bunch of TV episodes doesn’t make him famous enough but maybe if he was Marty’s daughter he’d be in for the same treatment.

      • mark f says:

        If a Peretz had collaborated with a Mamet on Homicide the script might’ve turned out nutty.

      • piny says:

        But everyone hated and continues to hate 2 Broke Girls. Everyone agrees that it’s a shallow, racist, unfunny show. What would you have a backlash against?

        And, look, both misogynists and feminists have harshed on Twilight. But you can’t lump them both into “the negative response to Stephanie Meyer.” Some people on the internet dislike Girls because they are anti-women. Some people on the internet dislike Girls because they are anti-racist. There’s no overlap between those two groups; the second group is mostly feminist women. And they’re not obligated to like something because some people dislike it for sexist reasons.

  5. david mizner says:

    She should learn from shows like Seinfeld and Friends, which had so many three-dimensional characters played by people of color.

    • S_noe says:

      Maybe we expect more racial complexity from HBO? Not sure why, with the exception of The Wire and Treme – and True Blood, I guess.

      By the way, your comment above about LD not “reading” as a star made a lot of sense to me. Her presence as an actor on the show also makes her a better lightning rod than your average show-runner.

      (Gotta say that after two episodes of Girls I got the strong feeling that I’m a little too old, and a little more too poor, to enjoy it. But it was nicely done all the same.)

  6. BigHank53 says:

    This reminds me of all the bitching about how much money Kristen Stewart was earning for the Twilight movies. Any actor–and particularly any female actor–knows they’re working temp jobs in a fickle marketplace. Get the cash now, and as much as possible is how the rule goes. If I were Lena Dunham and I got a 3.7 million offer from a pack of fools ruining running a publishing house, I’d take it too.

    • L2P says:

      I can say it isn’t like that from the people I hear it from. Nobody I know cared about KStew; actresses in megahits get paid.

      I hear a lot of “she’s another Paris Hilton” complaints on this deal. It’s a comb of this deal being (1) an advice book by an 27 year old (2) a lot of this saying “who the hell is this ‘Dunham’ person?” (3) getting an insane, not just large, advance and (4) once they find out Dunham is, discovering she’s apparently gotten a leg up every step of the way.

      If she’d gotten a 6 figure advance, I don’t think anybody I know would have cared. If she was in her 30′s, I don’t think anybody I know would have cared. If she was even SLIGHTLY more accomplished so that an advice book from her seemed “advicey,” I don’t think anybody I know would have cared. If she seemed even a little less “privilegey,” I don’t think anybody I know would have cared. But put them together and there’s some WTFs out there.

      I’m firmly in the Meh category, though. Chelsea Handler gets huge advances. Why not Lena Dunham?

      • vacuumslayer says:

        Anyone who compares Lena Dunham to Paris Hilton should clearly be ignored.

        I can’t help but wonder if little Lena would get so much static if she were a man.

        • Cody says:

          I’m curious why it isn’t “OMG she must have really pitched her book amazingly and had a great idea that suckered in the publishers!” but “she’s so spoiled! No way she had any kind of merit in this…”.

          Any who, how can one be upset that someone else is pissing away their money. Not like I’m subsidizing the publishers. (At least, I hope I’m not. They’re not federally funded, are they!?)

      • S_noe says:

        I know I can probably google it, but who TF made the Paris Hilton comparison?

        I will say, though, that $3.7 mil is a redonkulous amount of money for a first non-fiction book. (First, Non-fiction, and Book being the reasons it’s redonkulous.)

        Oh – Chelsea Handler actually took off as an author before her talk-show gig. In my bookstore days I got the distinct impression she was getting traffic by word of mouth – people, specifically white twenty something women, really liked her stuff! I don’t have any idea what her first advance was, but it probably wasn’t that much?

  7. mark f says:

    Reading through the comments on the TNC post I’m reminded that people sometimes have difficulty evaluating art. I mean, everyone knows that Tony Soprano and Walter White aren’t “good guys,” right? But when it comes to protagonists who aren’t sociopathic murderers people seem to think that writers expect us to view them uncritically. For example:

    there’s a problem sorta inherent here with Dunham and Girls which is that when you make something semi-autobiographical (or mostly in her case), your putting yourself out there to be judged. [. . .] It’s hard to say that when Dunham is acting shallow and privileged in Girls, that that’s not who she is.

    It may be true that Girls is mostly autobiographical, and it’s definitely sympathetic towards Hanna (IIRC that’s Dunham’s character’s name), but it’s not a celebration of her. There’s quite a lot of recognition and criticism of Hanna’s shallowness and privilege.

    • Corey says:

      Part of the issue here is I think the explicit tone and audience of these shows. A show on TNT or CBS – perhaps one aimed a bit downmarket – about a mobster would, if watched by the premium cable crowd, probably not inspire such uncritical takes on the main character. People feel superior for watching the show, connect the main character to their superiority, and as such have a hard time critically examining anything.

      It’s really easy to fall into this trap watching The Wire. Intellectually you know that McNulty’s an asshole, but you rarely see groupies engaging the character in any serious way.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      It may be true that Girls is mostly autobiographical, and it’s definitely sympathetic towards Hanna (IIRC that’s Dunham’s character’s name), but it’s not a celebration of her. There’s quite a lot of recognition and criticism of Hanna’s shallowness and privilege.

      Right — it’s bizarre how many people confuse Hannah’s perspective and Dunham’s perspective. I don’t know how you can miss that Hannah’s whining after being cut off isn’t meant to be sympathetic. It’s like the people who thought that the brilliant “University” episode was a celebration, rather than an unusually devastating critique, of misogyny.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        I find it odd how often people completely and almost willfully misunderstand the point of the show.

        I don’t think it’s a great show, but I do think it is a good one and that Dunham is really quite a talent. And if she writes stories about whiny privileged white New Yorkers forever, well, Woody Allen made a pretty good career of it.

        • Ed says:

          And if she writes stories about whiny privileged white New Yorkers forever, well, Woody Allen made a pretty good career of it.

          And he’s also been criticized for it. Which can and should come with the territory.

      • mark f says:

        Also, in that same scene in which her parents cut her off, Dunham explicitly makes fun of Hannah’s ambition to be “the voice of a generation.” But no one can criticize the show without mentioning that it sucks because Dunham’s trying to be — even insisting upon! — being exactly that. That should be tough to reconcile if you’re starting from the premise that the title should really be Lena Dunham Rulez.

        So much of the criticism is so far from what’s on screen that it reminds me of Joe Morgan talking about Moneyball: Why I Am an Unqualified Genius by Billy Beane.

      • witless chum says:

        Right — it’s bizarre how many people confuse Hannah’s perspective and Dunham’s perspective. I don’t know how you can miss that Hannah’s whining after being cut off isn’t meant to be sympathetic. It’s like the people who thought that the brilliant “University” episode was a celebration, rather than an unusually devastating critique, of misogyny.

        Well, a big part of it is just that a lot of people shouting about Dunham haven’t actually seen the HBO show or her movie, but just participated in the hype carnival/backlash/memefest online.

        For the record, I think the show mainly because it’s different in look and feel. I just enjoy watching something with a different texture for once. I don’t think she has total control of her tone, but I really like a lot of that first season.

  8. 4jkb4ia says:

    I will be upset when Lena Dunham gets a book deal when I am upset that the trade paperback list has three obvious knockoffs of 50 Shades of Grey on it. The culture manufacturing complex that makes Lena Dunham successful is above and beyond her.

    • 4jkb4ia says:

      It is not worth it to be upset that Lena Dunham got a book deal, since she obviously has fans. The size of the book deal may be worth getting upset about.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        The size of the book deal may be worth getting upset about.

        Why?

        • 4jkb4ia says:

          I tried to look up what Mindy Kaling got and what David Sedaris got in 2001, and I am getting nowhere with either. I did see that Sarah Silverman got $2.5 million. A million-dollar advance means that you expect this person to be a broad cultural phenomenon with appeal beyond the world of her show. This could happen only because she keeps being mentioned as such a phenomenon.

        • david mizner says:

          Well, not her advance in particular but the blockbuster mentality that drives publishers to put most of their money behind advances for a handful of authors and the rest of the money behind promoting the same authors, shrinking the already thin space that exists for better, less overtly commercial midlist writers…I have more important things to be upset about but it ain’t good, the publishing world. But none of this, of course, is the fault of Lena Dunham.

          On the other hand, the advance for my first book was in the mid four figures, so I’m not exactly an unbiased observer.

      • Hogan says:

        It’s an advance, which means it’s an upfront payment of less than the publisher expects to have to pay her in royalties. If they paid her too much money, the publisher guessed wrong and will take a loss. That’s not my problem.

        • L2P says:

          It’s never your problem when anybody gets paid anything. Why does that mean we can’t criticize a publisher for overpaying? I can’t criticize Geffen for paying $1 Billion or whatever the hell they paid for Chinese Democracy?

          • Hogan says:

            Before you’ve heard the album or seen the sales numbers?

            • L2P says:

              Why would you need to wait? Everybody knew it was going to be crap that wouldn’t sell.

              It’s interesting to make predictions about how things are going to play out. If all we did is wait to see if a free agent signing was a good one after the season, we’d have no hot stove league.

  9. vacuumslayer says:

    I’ve seen “Girls.” It’s a good show. Really good. It’s original and funny in an “ouchie” sort of way. I don’t watch it because, with a toddler, my days are pretty filled up and there’s only so much TV I can put on the docket. But I did see a couple of episodes and I was impressed.

    So don’t say “It’s a terrible show” or “It’s not a good show.” NO. What you should say is “I didn’t like the show.” Do you know what that means? It doesn’t mean the show isn’t good, it just means YOU didn’t like the show. And–guess what–nobody gives a shit what YOU think.

    • GeoX says:

      I have never seen Girls and have no opinion on it, but is the implication here REALLY that nobody should EVER say “X is a bad Y,” on the basis that there’s someone out there who likes X?

      • vacuumslayer says:

        I have no problem with people saying they think something is bad. I have a problem with people declaring a thing is bad as if it were fact instead of merely a–perhaps poorly informed–opinion.

        • There’s a big continuum between good and bad but there are things that are extreme examples on either end that provide a helpful guide to opinions on the items in the middle.

        • L2P says:

          I think we’re going to disagree on the difference between someone saying “I think show X is bad” and “Show X is bad.”

          I’m perfectly OK with just reading “I think” into everybody’s statements of taste re TV, art, music, books, movies, or whatever else you want to talk about where people are always going to disagree. I’ve got a friend who says Titanic is the most honest love story ever told, and another friend who thinks Titanic is the worst thing since unsliced bread. I don’t need to hear either say “I think” to know it’s just their opinion.

          • vacuumslayer says:

            Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, thanks for that. I’m aware people are expressing opinions. I’m just uncomfortable with people expressing those opinions as if they’re inarguable facts.

            • L2P says:

              Although you’re sarcasm is incredibly illuminating, oddly I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

              Sorry you’re going to have to continue being annoyed by people saying “Girls is crap” instead of “In my opinion Girls is crap.”

              • vacuumslayer says:

                Although you’re sarcasm is incredibly illuminating, oddly I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

                Maybe you’re not very bright.

                Still, you answered my post so you I guess you did know what I was talking about.

                And I’ll keep bitching about people being hyperbolic when it comes to discussing popular culture.

                Now kindly fuck off.

        • nixnutz says:

          I do agree with you but I think it’s helpful to just give people the benefit of the doubt, disclaimers about “this is my opinion and is no more valid than anyone else’s” should just be implied, everyone knows that impressions about art are subjective but stating them as if they’re not can convey the depth of your feeling.

          Now often you’ll be giving people more credit than they deserve if you do that but I think it may be helpful, at least it helps me be less upset about peoples’ stupid opinions. Or should in theory anyway.

          I liked Girls pretty well; I think it could be both a bit better and more to my liking but I think it would be hard or impossible to unpack which part is which.

      • medrawt says:

        I think it’s a problem when the discussion isn’t “is Girls a good show?” (although I think it’s not necessarily helpful) but is about something else pertaining to the show, and it’s putative badness or goodness is presented as though it were an objective fact, like “it’s airing on HBO,” or “she comes from a privileged background,” or “actually, I’m from an urban private school background and I find the lack of black people in her life totally realistic.”

      • Lindsay Beyerstein says:

        I think VS is saying that it’s hyperbole to write off a well-written, solidly-shot show as complete crap when there’s an obvious level of craft there.

  10. The only reason I watched “Girls” was to find out what so many people were upset about. I thought it was not bad, not great, but saw some potential.

    Most of the people who slammed the show seemed to have some idea of what shows should be and insisted that “Girls” should be that. Why? I don’t know.

    Most of the people who slammed Dunham and the other cast members in a personal way seemed to have a problem with women. Why? I don’t know.

    The only reason I’d be concerned about her book advance would be if it were my money. I mean, what are Yankees paying A-Rod?

    • S_noe says:

      The only reason I’d be concerned about her book advance would be if it were my money. I mean, what are Yankees paying A-Rod?

      I can’t figure out if this deserves a “true dat” or not. :) I guess we expect a bit more discernment from publishers in terms of their cultural mission, for no good reason (in most cases)?

      There is an argument, I guess, that her publisher could probably spend that money on a hundred authors or whatever, and thereby find a few that will join the backlist and pay off forever. But that’s probably harder than it sounds.

      • There is an argument, I guess, that her publisher could probably spend that money on a hundred authors or whatever, and thereby find a few that will join the backlist and pay off forever.

        But the publishers aren’t going to do that. If they didn’t give Dunham the money, they’d give it some other person who they think will produce big & quick money. I am sure they would tell us that financing these big & quick money projects is what allows them to carry less profitable writers of literary merit. Cf. Big college sports programs.

  11. CaptBackslap says:

    I think the backlash against the show is mostly the Favre Effect: Just because something is actually pretty good doesn’t mean people won’t reflexively dislike it if elite media acts like it’s the Second Coming. Double that if people suspect that there are political reasons for the hype. Unlike more important matters, people hate being told what opinions they’re allowed to have on TV shows.

    And pieces like the long one Todd VanDerWerff wrote for the AV Club (perhaps while literally mounted on a white charger in full battle regalia) that say the lack of black and poor people is the only legitimate criticism of the show don’t help.

  12. YankeeFrank says:

    I think some people go nuts because she plays a somewhat clueless privileged girl who is not conventionally attractive. Certain kinds of people find it easy to hate someone like her and to take out their aggressive impulses through hating her. If she was beautiful they would be afraid to take her down that way. Yes, I do mean afraid.

    But even more importantly, the fact that the show addresses class at all (by clearly portraying a specific class of individuals) is daring in an era that finds hollywood and television a constant whitewash where class is never even explored, except as a joke (“Shameless” indeed.) or shallow short term plot device. Every Hollywood comedy of the past 15 years that I can think of takes place in an anodyne, vague but clearly very wealthy milieu. Think of “Juno”, “Meet the Parents”, or “The Hangover”… the list is endless. This is true of HBO comedies as well: “Entourage” anyone?; Showtime’s “Weeds” also. Even “True Blood” takes place in a neverland where poor waitresses live in beautiful houses or pretty secluded bungalows. I think this is why people are reacting so negatively: they are so used to class and money being ignored or assumed away that when it is portrayed honestly and openly they freak out. Its perverse frankly, because shows that deny class or ignore it are much more offensive to me, and much more insulting to our sense of reality and what life is really like. And yet its Lena Dunham, upper middle class white girl, who gets the beatings for daring to be honest. How friggin’ phony and stupid can be people get?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Switch to our mobile site