Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Lena Dunham

If some on the right weren't so obsessed with her, would she even be noticed anymore?  I am not claiming that, I am asking.  I don't follow popular culture that much, so maybe she is a big deal that people are paying attention to.  Yet the only times I read about her are on right-wing sites making critical (and sometimes vile) comments about her.  I used to think that no one would notice Pat Robertson at all if it weren't for liberals tracking his comments to show that all conservatives were dangerous fools.  Is the same thing happening here?

As for the vile comments, they often focus on her appearance.  I suspected if she were a TV-visible person at all she couldn't look that bad, so I looked her up.  Suspicions confirmed. She's not pretty by Hollywood and those unforgiving camera standards, but she certainly looks like a girl we would call cute in real life. She looks fine. The cracks about her weight are even more silly. Part of it is face-roundness, but even without that she's not enormous.  She looks like a lot of other women.

Is it a personality thing that just bleeds over into appearance insults?  I have no knowledge what's she's like. It strikes me that the insults are delivered not so much because they are true, but because the writer thinks they will hurt.  It's low. Decent people don't say these things even if they're true, and they certainly don't go looking for people to demean for their appearance. When that appearance isn't actually so objectionable, it all seems very primitive and mean.


Mich said...

It seems whenever a woman is criticized for anything, the first thing people attack is her appearance. :/

Deevs said...

This is just my impression (which I'm currently unwilling to search out), but it seems like there was a push to present Lena Dunham as a modern standard of feminine beauty from some portions of the political left. Same for Amy Schumer. They've both been on the cover of Vogue (I guess I'll do a small amount of research), traditionally a place for uncommonly attractive women.

So to some conservatives, that felt like an extension of modern feminism and the often denigrating view it holds for the "male gaze". Conservative men felt like they were being told, "You don't get to decide what makes a woman attractive. We do. And this average looking feminist icon is attractive."

So the obvious reaction is to denigrate her looks. That's how I see it.

I agree that she's fairly average looking, but far from ugly. I almost certainly disagree with a majority of her opinions and viewpoints, but attacking her appearance does seem quite petty. If her ideas are bad enough, stick to those.

Sam L. said...

She was on a TV show, naked most of the time, I've heard.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I consider that a point for her and a point against her. I disapprove of TV-nakedness, but approve of expanding American-attractiveness beyond the fantasy level.

james said...

WRT the question of whether she is kept in the eye by the "alt-right" (whatever that may be)--I googled for her name, and most of the first few pages of hits from last month were not from conservative sites (Vogue, Variety, EO, etc). (I also selected against references to abortion--that comment of hers stirred a lot of reaction.) From the fact that she's an actress and created a famous show, I assume she's famous for accomplishments, and not just for being famous or being provocative.

You are correct that the unpleasant ways some people describe her are beyond the pale. Of course, she says things beyond the pale herself (like wishing she'd had an abortion). Maybe her slimers sense this is the only way to challenge her (and others like her) that the target would actually care about.

I don't know much about her, but O'Rourke wrote about others: "You can't shame or humiliate modern celebrities. What used to be called shame and humiliation is now called publicity. And forget traditional character assassination; if you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you’ve read his autobiography."

jaed said...

I'm not sure about this.

I agree she is average-to-cute, but there was a period when she seemed to be making herself deliberately ugly... Well, not ugly so much as bearing an alarming resemblance to a 12-year-old boy in the 70s. And during that same period, she was held up in many quarters as an aspirational figure. So there was a clash of expectations and I think that fuels some of the nasty comments. (Of course, there are people who will say godawful things about the looks of any woman who annoys them, and a fair number who seem personally affronted by any woman who is young enough to seem a sexual being to them but who doesn't attract them.) There was endless adulatory coverage of "Girls" as a "smash hit", despite the fact that almost no one seemed to actually be watching it.

I think it's two factors: almost everything she says or does publicly is annoying in some way—stupid, or condescending, or morally questionable, or mindlessly self-indulgent, or all of the above—and she's held up as a serious figure, a great talent and moral model. Attention must be paid. (Gwyneth Paltrow is just as annoying, but few people claim she's the New Woman of Our Times.) That combination is just going to irritate the hell out of people, and some will lash out at the focus of it.

It's interesting whether she'd be famous if people on the right weren't vocally annoyed about her. I think so; she gets less coverage than she did several years ago, but I still see many articles and mentions in media sources, women's magazines, etc.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I see that. If a woman is just standing around trying to put together a good show and being attractive in her culture as far as time and attention will allow, then comments about her appearance should be positive or silent. Yet there is a difference when there is an implied command that "this is what enlightened people now call attractive and you dare not say anything against it." That does rather invite contradiction.

But it is possible to contradict without insult and meanness. I might say "the large back-and-shoulder-tatoos really ruin it for me," or "she keeps trying to find a look that works among the current fads." Those carry a bit of insult to them, but more to her culture and her attitude than to things she has no control over. I'm not the demographic she's trying to reach anyway.

Texan99 said...

I agree with Mich. I'm afraid conservative sites are all to given to the instinct to focus first on a woman's looks, as a a way either to approve of her or disapprove of her in whatever way she's coming into the public consciousness. It often amounts to "Oh yeah? Well, you're ugly."