Either PFTCommenter‘s true identity has been revealed, or he’s got a competitor in the HOT TAKES department. Christine Flowers is a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times who specializes in sentences like “drug addicts may be diseased, but they are also selfish as hell” in a word-vomit about Philip Seymour Hoffman, and screeds that end with wanting to strangle Lena Dunham.
I came home from work the other night to a television that, courtesy of Ralph and Brian Roberts, provided me with three viewing choices: a blank screen, the “Real Housewives of Leavenworth” (which involved no actual women,) and HBO, which used to stand for “Home Box Office” but now means “Horrifically Bad Offal,” which conveniently rhymes with awful.
Oof. That sentence blowstime, which rhymes with Showtime.
The person I would be most tempted to hurt is Lena Dunham, the creator, writer and putative star of [Girls]. It is fashionable to say that Dunham is talented, just as it was once fashionable to purchase and pamper pet rocks. To me, Dunham is just a large fluffy skein of wool pulled over the eyes of anyone who thinks that acting involves more than opening your eyes really wide and saying things like “I have to live my truth.”
This I could almost accept, if Lena could just live her truth fully clothed. Unfortunately, young Miss Dunham is an exhibitionist who has the doughy dimensions of a “Before” picture and who embraces her Rubenesque beauty with gusto. Except that the Dutch master never painted a woman in a bikini with shoulder tattoos that resemble the residue around your bathtub after the seventh family member has used it.
There are perfectly great reasons to hate Girls, and by proxy, hate Lena Dunham. This isn’t one of them. It’s the time-honored “she’s gross because her body’s gross” reaction, with the added of twist of singling out Dunham’s tattoos, because Flowers is apparently still living in the 1950s. About that:
A few weeks ago, before it closed, I went to the Grace Kelly exhibit in Doylestown…
…Aside from the fact that she belongs heart, body and golden-haired glory to us, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the princess we lent to Monaco. Part of it has to do with her immense acting skills, part of it is the memory of that silk chiffon voice, and part of it derives from the knowledge that this Philadelphia Dorothy always came home.
But a very large part of the reason that I adore Grace Kelly Grimaldi stems from the fact that she was unapologetically perfect. She valued dignity, and understood that authenticity derives from self-respect and not self-exposure. And she wore white gloves without a trace of irony.
She’s the Dressmaker from The Critic: “We dressmakers have a very strict code, so I need to know. Do you deserve to wear virginal white? Because if you don’t, you’ll have to wear an off white, what we call a ‘hussy white.’ So which will it be? White white?” Lena Dunham is Margo Sherman’s “except for the gloves.”
I suspect that at some level, Lena Dunham understands this principle. The Girls creator recently appeared on the cover of Vogue and in a photo layout. Many of the pictures that appeared in the fashion bible were photo-shopped with nary a bikini in sight. That is a very good thing from an aesthetic perspective because Vogue — unrealistic as it might be for the average woman — doesn’t pretend to serve the proletariat. It represents an ideal standard of beauty. Lena Dunham, even a fully-clothed Lena Dunham, does not. This is not because she is not Grace Kelly perfect. It’s because Dunham quite deliberately spits upon that perfection and demands to be adored as a goddess of mediocrity.
I think that’s the part that annoys me the most.
It’s almost as if Dunham is presenting a narrative where women don’t have to look perfect all the time, because the ones who are, like Marnie, appear normal on the outside, but are train wrecks on the inside. Also, not only is Flowers three years late to this stale hatred of Girls, but she’s defining the “ideal standard of beauty” for everyone, as if you’d have to be some kind of MONSTER to find anyone who doesn’t look like Grace Kelly not hideous.
It’s also troubling that challenging this apathy has now come to be considered judgmental. Worse yet, it’s tantamount to strangling poor little Ophelia, that put upon adolescent living inside every grown woman.
I’d settle for strangling Lena Dunham.
We’ve already contacted Flowers at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask her to recap Lena’s SNL for us.
You should do the same.