commentisfree/2018/dec/01/ lena-dunham-is-a-hugely- original-writer-who-cares-if- she-is-a-good-person
Why is Dunham really being singled out? It’s not a difficult one to solve. Ask a young person what they want to do when they grow up and the most popular answer is no longer “marine biologist” or “pop star”, but “writer”. You can bet a chunk of those could narrow that down to “comedy writer” or even “having my own six-season sitcom about me and my friends, starring me”. Dunham doesn’t look like an untouchable Hollywood goddess – she looks like most people who want what she has. It makes them wonder: why wasn’t that me?
If that is anything like an accurate indicator o what young people in the UK want for their future careers (and I hope it isn't) then the British empire deserves to implode, not because the arts are necessarily bad but because the arts have historically been the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. The writer shifts from Dunham to someone who might be regarded as an untouchable Hollywood goddess.
It is also more fun to bully someone who cares what you think. When Dunham gets pilloried, she will eventually apologise for whatever it is you think she did, something that delights her critics, so much so that one of them made an automatic “Lena Dunham apology generator” on Twitter. This reminds me of Anne Hathaway’s famous haters, spurred on by her hopeful, unsure face at the Oscars and her admission that the abuse does get to her a bit sometimes.
The topic of loathing for Anne Hathaway reminds me that during its 2012 peak it seemed to be an intra-sisterhood hatred. Maybe there were those men who wanted Jolie to play Selina Kyle but the Hatha-hatred didn't seem to be a characteristic of a boys' club as some general principle. By contrast, I've read comments from women writing articles for Slate to the effect that Hathaway seemed like the kind of girl who was practicing her acceptance speech in front of a mirror when she was twelve years old. The proposal that Lena Dunham and Anne Hathaway are actually comparable in interests and aims is not really given. Writer-actors in comedy and television and actors who tend to be known for dramatic/cinematic roles are not exactly comparable.
The contrast to Hathaway circa 2012 was Jennifer Lawrence ... whose career overall may turn out to be less distinguished but of whom it was said she seemed more "real"--that was likely an appeal to a sense of the "real" in which Lawrence didn't conduct herself in a way that somehow indicated she was part of some kind of Hollywood royalty class or caste. These days, with more stories trickling out about how badly people behave behind the scenes ... maybe there's something to be said in favor of Hollywood royalty acting like the prestige comes with some sense of responsibility.
It also reminds me of the writer Laurie Penny, who tried hard to understand and respond to her critics, which only made things worse. And that these three examples are women is not a coincidence: part of the reason women get more grief on the internet and in the media is because the perpetrators assume they will mind it more.
Dunham has had a great deal of success and if that’s what you want it probably feels better to despise her than to envy her. Perhaps it helps to know you’re making her life a little bit worse than it could be. But there’s danger in this approach too. What if you do make it one day? What’s to stop them coming for you too? [emphasis added]
This seems like a compelling claim to the author but it seems dubious. The idea tha tit's easier to despise someone than envy them has to presuppose envy. It doesn't feel better to despise or envy so far as I can tell.
But having been around for the majority of the rise and fall of what used to be Mars Hill Church and its keynote figure Mark Driscoll the reason I find the closing claim to be so dubious is because over the years I saw the "people find it easier to hate X for success than to admit to envy of X doing so much good in the world" only it wasn't applied to Lena Dunham, it was said of Mark Driscoll. Surely a grown-up can hold that there is plenty to not particularly admire about both Lena Dunham and Mark Driscoll at the same time.
Well … the thing about this kind of argument is that within the Christian blogosphere in the United States and Christian media over the last two decades I’ve seen precisely this “it’s easier to despise than be honest and admit to envy” gambit rolled out for guys like Mark Driscoll.
As the Result Source controversy and the plagiarism controversy erupted between later 2013 and early 2014 a question that had to be addressed by those who would say the Mark Driscoll haters might envy his success was a blunt one, the question was how much of Mark Driscoll's success was built upon his own work as distinct from work that others had done for him; work others did that he'd made use of without full credit given to them; and work that had become popular or well-known on the basis of its own marketplace merits as distinct from market-altering gambits conducted behind the scenes. This might be another element in which the Hollywood royalty may not be entirely bad if in this limited sense, that you can't flaunt the connections and generations of power if they aren't there.
If the kinds of stars we're getting are in the Lena Dunham or Louis CK category that might be a reason to ask what it is, exactly, that has made these sorts of people stars. I'm not interested in making harsh comments about Lena Dunham or Louis CK or even necessarily Mark Driscoll. These may all be people who were transformed into stars by a star-making machine or network of machines the ethics of which has not been examined as closely, perhaps, as could be. It must be possible to ask why the star-making machinery of first-world nations picks the stars it picks without having to assume that the stars themselves have to be thought of as automatically all bad or thoroughly worthy in the process.