Is Lena Dunham trying to mask her white privilege with HBO Max's 'Generation'? Her Top 5 troubling statements
From being the IT girl of 2012 with the launch of HBO's 'Girls' to being the pariah of the #MeToo movement, Lena Dunham has become the default poster child of narcissistic white feminism. 'Generation' that comes to HBO Max on March 11 seems to be the patented Lena Dunham apology dressed as a TV show. As executive producer and writer on the show, this project is one slated to get her the most attention because it is streaming on HBO Max.
Comparable to 'Girls' in terms of reach, it stands out against her other upcoming projects that include 'Sharp Stick', an indie film and her second feature-length film, the adaptation of the YA novel 'Catherine Called Birdy', a medieval coming-of-age comedy for Working Title.
'Generation' that focuses on "Gen Z" experiments with sexuality and gender falls firmly in Dunham territory. She explored the insecurities of millennial White women around dating and relationships in 'Girls'. Could the same relationship and dating heavy focus but with a Generation Z spin work again?
Dunham must be hoping so because she has 'woked' up the project considerably. The queer POC lead in the form of Chester played by Justice Smith is symbolic of how the show is guarding against criticism thrown at Dunham before this. From having more racial diversity in the cast to tackling LGBTQA themes and plotlines, 'Generation' seems to want to preempt criticisms that could be thrown her way.
For added measure, Dunham has roped in 19-year-old Zelda Barnz and her gay father Daniel Barnz as showrunners and co-creators. Zelda Barnz who is bisexual and daughter of two dads will hopefully impart the authenticity of voice required for the project. However, will Dunham's controversial statements and actions in the past hinder or hurt the project?
Here are the top 5 Lena Dunham statements that got her into trouble:
'We stand by Murray'
In 2017, Dunham defended Murray Miller, a writer and executive producer for 'Girls', after actress Aurora Perrineau filed a police report alleging that Miller raped her. According to Perrineau, she was 17 years old at the time, while Miller would have been 35 years old in 2012 when the incident occurred. Dunham is her statement supporting Miller wrote: "our insider knowledge of Murray's situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year. We stand by Murray and this is all we'll be saying about this issue". Social media tore her apart for not only jumping to conclusion that the victim of rape was lying without any solid evidence except her gut feel but also using her considerable clout to support a White man in a position of power over a Black woman victim. Dunham apologized the next day in a long statement for letting down women who were disappointed by her actions. She wrote: "...by speaking out we were putting our thumb n the scale and it was wrong. We regret this decision with every fiber of our being." After the incident, Dunham was held at arm's length by the #MeToo movement.
'Speaking out against Harvey Weinstein only makes you more sexually irresistible'
This wasn't the only time Dunham managed to anger #MeToo activists. After the Harvey Weinstein moment of reckoning and fall from grace, Dunham in a now-deleted tweet said: "Ironically, guys, speaking out against Harvey Weinstein only makes you more sexually irresistible (consensually, of course)". The frivolous tweet that saw #MeToo as a woke fad that could help men get laid was not something feminists and activists working to get justice for victims appreciated.
'No one would be calling me a racist if they knew how badly I wanted to f— Drake.'
Responding to criticism about the homogenous cast of 'Girls' in the oral history session in 2017 about the HBO series for Hollywood Reporter, Dunham recounted a remark she had made when she was 25 years old. "No one would be calling me a racist if they knew how badly I wanted to f— Drake". Dunham was called out for her gaslighting action where she simultaneously indulged in the harmful behavior of oversexualizing Black men while trying to pass it off as a joke and "dumb statement" by an immature 25-year-old to avoid taking responsibility for her words.
'That's a marshmallow. That's a child. That's a dog.'
Dunham accused football player Odell Beckham Jr of behaving like a misogynistic athlete at the 2016 Met Gala, despite him never speaking to her. In a conversation with comedian Amy Schumer, Dunham said: "it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, 'That's a marshmallow. That's a child. That's a dog.' It wasn't mean — he just seemed confused. The vibe was very much like, 'Do I want to f--- it? Is it wearing a … yep, it's wearing a tuxedo. I'm going to go back to my cell phone.' It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, 'This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.'"
After she was called out for making baseless accusations, Dunham put out an apology again, addressing the footballer. In her apology note, she wrote: "I... projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it [...] But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies — as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I'm so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone."
'I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had’
In December 2016, speaking on an episode of 'Women of the Hour' on the choice to abort, Dunham recounted a story of when she had visited a Planned Parenthood in Texas where a young girl had asked her if I’d like to be a part of her project in which women share their stories of abortions. Dunham recalled how she went out of the way to proclaim she had not had an abortion and was "unblemished". But this was not what got her in trouble.
Rather it was what she said after she made the proclamation that she no longer saw abortion as a stigma. “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had,” she said. Critics were quick to point out how her self-focused comment entirely devalued the traumatic aspect of abortion and the pain of those who had to undergo it. She then apologized for the verbal misstep saying: “I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy.”
Hopefully, 'Generation' won't feature any more of signature Dunham 'slips' in the episodes she writes and is 'woke' enough to evade cancel culture this time around.
'Generation' premieres with the first three episodes on HBO Max on Thursday, March 11.