Lena Dunham, the creative genius behind Girls and the Lenny Letter, is 30 years old. By anyone’s assessment, she has the appearance of an adult. And yet she continues to behave in a childish manner, in a way that does not appear to be a part of an act. Her childishness may amuse her or her fans, but it has been getting her into trouble of late, particularly when it came to ascribing all sorts of internal dialogue to the handsome 23 year old wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who Dunham sat near at the Met Gala in New York. In an interview with Amy Schumer – a once-interesting comic turned political in the wake of her boyfriend coming out of the closet, whose show is now apparently canceled, and whose new book is unreadable – Dunham waxed eloquent on what motivated this famous athlete to ignore her presence at the table.
Dunham: You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was so surreal to get to do that. I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because 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.’
Schumer: You were dressed like a boy, and you looked sexy, and I really appreciated you showing me your tits several times.
The comment provoked backlash.
The ridiculous anecdote set the entire internet against her, men’s rights activists and feminists briefly united in their hatred of Lena Dunham and her astounding self-absorption. Initially, Dunham brushed the comment off as a joke, but if it was just a joke, it wasn’t particularly funny, nor did it even make any sense. Finally, she posted a very lengthy and grovelling apology on Instagram.
Even in her apologies, she manages to be self-righteous and annoying. The fact is, Lena Dunham is both obscenely arrogant and cripplingly insecure. Dunham has often been touted as the millennial Woody Allen, a talented storyteller and masterful writer of dialogue, her genius fueled by her unrelenting insecurity. But why is she so obsessed with her body? It’s incredibly tiresome, and boring. She forces it upon us at every opportunity, and seemingly never stops talking or thinking about it.
Odell Beckham was formerly the rookie of the year in the NFL. He is seven years her junior and averages a draft position of 3 in Fantasy Football. And yet Dunham was prepared to indict him of all manner of mental crimes for the sin of looking at his phone instead of engaging with her at the Met Gala, where she looked like this.
The problem for Dunham is the same problem that crops up with any radical feminist who is in the practice of distributing shame to its appropriate recipients: she can’t have it both ways. Imagine Dunham’s reaction and interview following a Met Gala where this young athlete had come on to her – perhaps displaying his ignorance of who she was or her creative enterprises (I would guess OBJ has seen Girls, but presumably not Tiny Furniture). Can you believe it? Look at this lunkhead with his football priorities, attempting to make a pass at your feminist hero Lena Dunham. Instead he took what most men would think of as the “safe” course of action, ignoring those around him and focusing on the blank screen in his hand. But even that turned out to be objectionable to the point of providing Dunham interview fodder months after the fact. How dare a 23 year old man in peak physical condition be uninterested in the potato in a tuxedo seated next to him! He must, as Slate claims, be gay.
This is the internal problem with today’s arch-feminism, and why it collapses in on itself in obvious and occasionally hilarious ways. Dunham claims she never wants to be objectified, until she does, and when she isn’t, she feels pathetic about it. But we don’t get to decide who objectifies us and when. People see you that way or they don’t. That’s called life. If you’ve ever sat at dinner next to someone beautiful who you wanted to pay attention to you, you’re not a participant in some large-scale drama about humanity or the relations between man and woman – you’re just an overgrown child, a person wanting attention and frustrated you’re not getting it. That’s all Lena Dunham is, and deep down, I suspect she knows it.