For a week, a controversy has been raging in the national news about millennial feminist bard Lena Dunham’s treatment at the hands of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham at a fancy New York gala. The debate about their interaction, or lack thereof, has been raging in Dunham’s head for months.
The short version: At the Met Gala in New York City in May, Dunham sat at a table with Beckham, who was looking at his phone. In an interview months later with feminist comedian Amy Schumer, Dunham attributed his behavior to his assessment of her as “not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.'”
Beckham expressed no such thing, but Dunham is in the habit of policing people’s behavior and thinking incessantly about her own body and its societal shortcomings. This interaction allowed her to do both without ever speaking to Beckham. Since the interview with Schumer, many have lambasted Dunham as entitled, privileged, narcissistic, and unfair to Beckham. She apologized, via Instagram, as millennial bards do.
During this week, through all the social media heat, Beckham said and tweeted nothing about the situation. It is, after all, the beginning of the NFL’s season. He was probably busy drafting himself in three fantasy leagues in between two-a-days.
When Beckham did say something, he revealed, although seven years her junior, he is far more capable of acting like an adult in interactions with other adults. While Dunham blew this scant social encounter into “some large-scale drama about humanity or the relations between man and woman,” Beckham barely noticed it. Not because he doesn’t want to have sex with her, but because he’s a seemingly well-adjusted human who can sit next to someone at a dinner party without letting his inner monologue turn into a gloomy middle-school diary page.
Beckham was at another cool event for beautiful people when asked about Dunham’s comments. Beckham, described by the New York Times as “balletic [with] action-hero charisma,” (Way to rub it in, Gray Lady!) was debuting a fashion line at a GQ cocktail party for New York Fashion Week.
Asked if Ms. Dunham’s comments struck a nerve, he seemed confused. ‘Honestly, man, I didn’t. …’
A publicist by his side attempted to intercept the question: ‘He came here to talk about fashion — or football.’
But the receiver at least made a grab for it: ‘It’s life. There are so many things that go on, you catch some of them, you don’t catch some of them, you just — I don’t know man, I don’t have much to say about that. I have to learn more about the situation.’
He also told Complex: “I don’t have enough information to really speak on it…We’ll see what happens from there. I never want any problems with anybody in this world.”
Exactly, Odell. This is life, and sometimes you don’t have the perfect interaction to suit the imperfect psyche of everyone at your table at every event. When that happens, it’s best not to overthink it or say wild things publicly until you learn more about the situation.
This is the reaction of a kind but unconcerned, confident adult who has a lot of big things going on in his life. The gloomy middle-school girl buried in my own psyche squirms because he’s so much cooler than her and he’s not even trying.
In a hilarious turn of events, Beckham’s healthy reaction is a repetition of his first “offense” in Dunham’s eyes. He didn’t notice her properly at a party and then he didn’t notice the week-long uproar and national conversation about the fact that he didn’t notice her properly at a party. He meta-didn’t notice her! How crushing for someone who prides herself on drawing attention to herself and creating national conversations about the form that attention takes. Beckham has done all of us a favor by answering in such a nonchalant and noncontroversial way as to let us all, God willing, move on from this story.
I found Dunham’s apology in this incident surprisingly sincere and self-aware. If she pays attention to Beckham, she can get it right on the first try next time.