Lena Dunham has been officially Ready for Hillary since April 2015. Although some of her cohort have since begun to Feel the Bern, she remains committed to her first choice.
In an article at Time, Dunham reaffirmed her fidelity—not something Hillary is accustomed to—writing, “I think she’d do a fantastic job, better than anyone else. Really terrific!” Well, she almost wrote that. The final sentence fragment may have been added to highlight a bizarre similarity between Dunham and one Donald J. Trump.
You think I jest? Sad! In the odd and rambling endorsement in which Dunham really fails to make a case for Hillary over Bernie, she does achieve success in another area: She shows herself to be less of an eloquent spokesman for modern feminism and more of a caricature of what she thinks her Baby Boomer forebears and mentors would say. That is exactly how Trump rolls, except he’s trying to sound like a conservative.
Meandering Around in a Hazy Word Cloud
Whether talking abortion or Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20, Trump doesn’t offer answers from a place of conviction. Instead, he meanders around a hazy word cloud until he settles in on what he thinks actual conservatives believe. (Spoiler alert: he usually settles in on what they don’t believe, but that’s only part of the game he’s playing here.)
So when he suggested that women who’ve had abortions be punished, Dunham, who also isn’t great at emulating conservative thought, took him at his word.
“When Donald Trump said women should be punished for seeking abortions, Bernie’s response left me cold. ‘Any stupid, absurd remark made by Donald Trump becomes the story of the week,’ he said. ‘Maybe, just maybe, we might want to have a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America.’ As someone terrified by Trump’s flailing ginger wig of a candidacy, I took his words very seriously. We all should.”
Count one for Bernie, because what actual conservatives heard was yet another failed attempt to form policy out of the ether, one in which Trump got it completely backwards, again. Pathetic! Also, much like certain statements about little sisters, maybe we shouldn’t take those words very seriously. Certainly, upon reflection, Lena can agree to that.
Neuroticism Masquerading as Feminism
This brings us to Dunham and her oeuvre. She is definitely a true believer, but in watching her work and listening to her, one never gets the sense that her ideology is grounded in philosophy and conviction. Rather, it seems as though she’s just regurgitating words and concepts she heard back at Oberlin College, playing a character that doesn’t stop once the cameras are off.
As Camille Paglia put it: “Lena Dunham to me is the symbol of neuroticism which masquerades as feminism. I mean, Lena Dunham has a lot of problems that have to do with body image that have nothing whatever to do with wider society but have to do with the cast of her own family life and her own family background.”
Since Paglia is Feeling the Bern, perhaps we shouldn’t take her word for it. When we look at Dunham’s reaffirmation of her Hillary support, we do find a long list of cogent and original statements and words such as Hillary is a woman, women’s reproductive health and rights, systemic racism, gun control, equal pay, some other things, and why it’s bad to sentence differently for crack and powder cocaine. She might want to check out who signed that last one into law.
Regardless, Microsoft could program a Twitter-bot that could handle this role. They could even prevent it from becoming corrupted and supporting Trump this time. Just dump in a bunch of phrases and words from a few approved Studies Studies 101 courses and boom, you’ve achieved the same result. Hell, maybe even better results, as the bot wouldn’t come burdened by any preconceived notions people have about Dunham.
It Isn’t Not About Shared Anatomy, Either
Beyond that, there’s also this, which although well short of Sean Penn levels of dense prose, doesn’t exactly make sense (much like Penn’s dense prose). “In a million ways, for women and girls in every walk of life, Hillary does the damn thing.”
What exactly is that thing? Dunham doesn’t really specify, and probably isn’t referencing the Lauryn Hill song. Also, for a woman who said earlier in her piece that this wasn’t about their shared anatomy, one can’t help but notice that “women and girls” excludes about half the population. In fact, there’s a pretty strong line running throughout every line of the article, and it isn’t a Y chromosome branching off into various directions. That’s because even though this isn’t about shared anatomy, it isn’t not about shared anatomy either.
“That said, dudes, I’m allowed to be excited that the most qualified and battle-tested candidate in this race is a woman! It’s O.K. that it makes my chin wobble with urgent emotion. I refuse to separate my politics from my pride in being a woman. When barriers for women fall, the world becomes a better place for everyone — especially when they’re kicked down by the baddest lady in the game.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s kind of violent, but then again, it’s really just word soup. Most qualified. A woman! Battle tested. Chin wobble? The baddest lady. Is she about to start talking about “Shaft”? Hillary does come with Bill, after all, even if his private dick skills are more literal and don’t describe his skill at sleuthing.
Lena Dunham Has No Original Ideas
Sure, Dunham is more earnest than Trump, in that she believes what she’s trying to put down, but her political proclamations are equally unmoored. She stitches together a pastiche of words in hopes that other feminists will offer praise and salve for her neuroticism. Then she gets naked, although presumably she isn’t Ready for Bill, too.
That, for her, is about as good as it gets, although we can’t blame her. She is, after all, posturing all the way to the bank, which is what Trump did on his way to the primary, so there’s no reason for her to examine and sharpen her beliefs. This isn’t exactly Tragic!, but it does make her less an original and more a pale imitation.
Fortunately for her, at 29 she’s got until the election of 2024 to take on a darker orange hue and improve her ability to spew better contoured clouds, to become truly Trumpian. Unfortunately for us, she’s going to keep practicing and, no matter what we do, that cloud will occasionally darken our days. That’s the real tragedy.