In the history of Christmas films, the most tragic character is not Mr. Potter, the crotchety old banker from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Nor is it Scut Farkus, the yellow-eyed neighborhood bully from “A Christmas Story.” No, the most tragic character in Christmas film history is Harry Ellis, the arrogant slimeball in “Die Hard.”
Ellis, in case you’ve forgotten, is the sneering, self-impressed salesman of the Nakatomi Corporation. When the building is overtaken by Hans Gruber and his henchmen, thieves passing themselves off as terrorists, Ellis is convinced he can use his charm and cunning to win the favor of his captors and preserve his life. He winks and smiles at Gruber, and promises to hand him John McClain, the rogue cop who is foiling Gruber’s plans. But in response to Ellis’ zealous loyalty, Gruber rewards him with a bullet to the face.
Ellis’s tragic tale came to mind when I read that Lena Dunham, the actress, author, and feminist activist extraordinaire, recently incurred the wrath of Internet feminists for stating that she wished she’d had an abortion to give her greater feminist street cred. Dunham later explained, “My words were spoken from a sort of ‘delusional girl’ persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate.”
In other words, just as Ellis put on his salesman persona to ingratiate himself to Gruber, Dunham put on her “Girls” persona to win the approval of Angry Internet Feminism that has come to occupy the Nakatomi Plaza that is her world. In response, Angry Internet Feminism shot her in the face.
Why Lena’s Insanity Makes Sense
It’s understandable why Dunham thought her “I wish I’d had an abortion” strategy would win her accolades. After all, feminism demands that abortion shouldn’t just be legal, safe, and rare, but that it should be legal, safe, and celebrated. So on the surface it seems only logical that feminism will reward those who try to celebrate abortion.
But just as Ellis didn’t understand the nature of the man he was trying to woo, Dunham failed to understand what Angry Internet Feminism actually wants. Gruber didn’t care about political oppression. He just wanted money, and was more than happy to take the life of anyone who distracted him from his goal.
In the same way, Angry Internet Feminism isn’t ultimately concerned with “reproductive rights” as an end unto itself. Rather, its goal is to continue producing the flow of sweet, endorphin-releasing “women are oppressed, repressed, and microagressed” outrage. While screaming “abortion on demand and without apology” usually helps feed that river, Angry Internet Feminism won’t hesitate to change the rules midstream and devour its disciples if it appears there’s more outrage to be extracted from their veins.
What Lena Dunham Doesn’t Get about Feminism
So feminism says abortion is empowering. Dunham tries to win feminism’s approval by saying she wants the power that abortion brings. Feminism castigates her for belittling the powerlessness women feel after abortion because, more than it wants Roe vs Wade upheld, Angry Internet Feminism wants to be furious at someone.
Feminism says an unborn child is just a clump of cells. Dunham wishes she’d confessed this by lording her bodily autonomy over a clump of cells in her uterus. Feminism, however, is looking for someone to tear apart, so it rebukes her by saying that abortion is actually a difficult decision and that she must not disregard its morality.
Feminism shouts that abortion is safer than having a baby. Dunham agrees, saying she’s so unafraid of the procedure she wishes she’d undergone it. She’s then informed that abortion is actually a dangerous, frightening thing that she may not treat lightly because feminism was looking to exterminate another hostage and she was dumb enough to voluntarily walk into the office.
Feminism says women only feel shame over abortion because of the patriarchy. Dunham tries to hand over the John-McLain-esque patriarchy and gets shot in the face.
Get Out of the Performance Art Holding Pattern
As I mentioned earlier, Dunham explained her abortion comment by saying she was adopting a delusional girl persona. Dunham recently performed a similar bit of performance art, where she adopted an insecure girl persona while criticizing New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr for not sufficiently lusting after a woman of her less-than-Hollywood allure. It was seemingly a dig at the patriarchy’s love of unrealistic beauty standards, comments for which she also later apologized.
In other words, it appears Dunham has a habit of putting on a show to win the favor of Angry Internet Feminism, only to discover that the mob is only listening to her read lines so it can feed its outrage addiction when she says the wrong thing. It appears she’s in a performance art holding pattern, eternally stuck in that “Die Hard” moment when Ellis realizes he’s made a mistake but keeps trying to save himself by employing the same tricks that caused his peril in the first place.
Like Ellis, Dunham has failed to heed the wisdom of John McClain—that you should never try to serve people who are more interested in your blood than your help. But unlike the deceased snake-oil salesman, it’s not too late for Dunham. Perhaps the hostile feminist reaction she received can help her realize that it’s time to try finding happiness in a better place, namely the place where Christians will be gathering in a few days to celebrate the birth of our Lord: the church.
This Christmas, Jesus will gather his faithful around himself. They are filled with self-loathing, grief, and guilt over their sins, but he has taken those sins away. He will tell those who regret celebrating the taking of unborn life and other transgressions that they now have the right to be born again in his name.
He will tell those who have tried and failed to find peace in the arms of angry people and unfulfilling worldviews that they don’t need to adopt a phony persona. They don’t need to put on a show to win God over, because his own blood has already made them welcome in the arms of his Father. This Christmas, that’s something that Lena Dunham and the rest of us all need to hear.