After finding myself rolling my eyes at yet another Internet ad for HBO's new series, Girls, I had to finally admit to myself that my aversion to Lena Dunham is because I'm utterly and completely jealous of her.
I've never wanted to be that girl who dislikes other girls simply because they have something I don't. I try to be supportive of my gender because we girls need to look out for one another. I think Dunham said it herself in a recent interview, "a success for one woman is a success for all of us."
Or she could have not said that, I'm not sure. I've read so many freaking articles about her lately, I can't keep track. But if she did say that, maybe she's right. Maybe she'll pave the way for us narcissistic twenty-somethings who love talking about our less than unique neuroses and "problems." We need a champion, damnit!
Or maybe she just fucked us all.
My contention with Dunham developed after viewing the first 20 minutes of her freshman feature, Tiny Furniture. My initial excitement for the film quickly turned to revulsion when I realized that not only could I not relate to the film, but I couldn't understand what all the hubbub was about.
Though I, like many girls, had an early twenty-something existential crisis in the form of self-loathing and bad decision-making similar to that of the heroine, I found Aura absolutely obnoxious. And not in an "I was exactly like her — this is too hard for me to watch!" kind of way. More like an "I know this is loosely based off of Dunham — why do the rich kids always get famous so easily?" kind of way.
The photography, which was highly praised, was dull to me and the "unique" effect of using her real-life family and friends in the film drove me Randy Quaidzy. The meta-ness of the film became too much, and a level of frustration and anger I hadn't felt since the first and only time I viewed a Joe Swanberg movie burned within me.
I should add that I work in film and am a writer, so I have that baggage dragging behind me when I produce any thought about Dunham or her work. I'm also a relatively self-centered young woman who writes about herself.
If I dig deep down I can recognize that there is a part of me that despises Dunham for becoming "the voice of my generation." This is not an idea she herself believes, but one that critics, fans and HBO editors have rallied behind. She is The Golden One and all us other twenty-something creatives who think they have something special to say are turds.
Let’s face it: Most people hate on Lena Dunham because they think, “Oh, I can do that!” Maybe we can, maybe we can’t. Maybe we’re not talented enough, or maybe we’re not lucky enough.
Even being objective, I can confidently say that Tiny Furniture is not a special movie. What is special is Dunham's writing, which must be a large reason why the accolades for Girls have been so wonderful. She is witty, and she's smart, and I can't take that away from her.
Vogue calls her a modern day female Woody Allen, and as much as it pains me to read something like that, what if it's true? What if the title so many of us anxious and awkward lady Jews strive for just got taken? (I’ll still gladly give that crown to Sloane Crosley)
Girls premiered this week. Even if I had HBO, I'm not sure I'd watch it. I'm afraid of loving it. I'm afraid of hearing dialogue I wish I wrote and cursing Dunham while raising a fist to the sky. I want to like her and I want to support her. I want to stop judging her for the things she has that I do not. But above all, I want the assault of Girls advertisements to stop being a constant reminder of my creative failures.
Update: Okay, so I watched Girls. Though I still have complaints similar to the ones I have with Tiny Furniture (“Oh God, can these women get anymore unrelatable and cringeworthy?!”) the Judd Apatow sheen made for a slightly more digestible viewing. Though I wasn’t wowed by the premiere, I’m curious to see where the show goes.
You’re slowlllly winning me over, Lena Dunham. I’m still jealous of you though.