Lena Dunham Blames The Ignorant Shit She Has Said On Her Youth And “Huge Blind Spots”
Lena Dunham covers the latest issue of the Hollywood Reporter, and in the interview, she dives into her personal struggles and controversies. The 35-year-old explains that she used to say racist crap because she was ignorant and lacked awareness. She also blames it on being young and having “huge blind spots.” Lena wants the next decade to be more about her art and less about apologizing for everything she says. But Lena! Apologizing for everything you say is your art!
Lena considers 2016 to be the beginning of the darkest period of her life, “a 50-car pileup.” In addition to her day-to-day stresses (getting messages on social media that said shit like, “You’re fat, you’re ugly and you deserve to die”) people were calling her a child molester (based on a revelation from her memoir where she details examining her baby sibling’s genitals at age 7), they were furious she defended Girls writer/executive producer Murray Miller after actress Aurora Perrineau accused him of rape, and she felt a ton of pressure making the last season of Girls, and worried she’d peaked too soon.
In 2018, she got a hysterectomy to help “the excruciating pain of endometriosis.” The same year she broke up with both Jack Antonoff and her creative partner Jenni Konner. Then she had to leave her poorly reviewed Jennifer Garner HBO comedy, Camping, mid-production to go to rehab for a benzodiazepine addiction.
Lena says things got better during the pandemic when she got COVID-19. She found the isolation “a boon to her creativity and state of mind.” She binged movies from the seventies, and they inspired her to write a film called Sharp Stick. The movie, which comes out this year, follows a woman in her twenties who got a hysterectomy at age 16. Lena also directs and co-stars. Lena offered the role of the lead character’s adopted sister to Zola actress Taylour Paige. Taylour, who is Black, hadn’t seen Girls, but she was aware of the controversy surrounding Lena and the lack of diversity on the show:
“If I’m being honest,” says Paige, “I was like, ‘Don’t you think this character was written as a white person?’”
Lena convinced Taylour that she had written the part with her in mind, so she agreed to play the role:
…a character who posts sexy videos to social media, at times whipping her long, blond braids in slow motion (Dunham’s idea). It’s a definite risk for Dunham, who opens herself up to criticisms of stereotyping Black women or worse. As Dunham explains it, each of the women are supposed to represent the “three-way mirror of female experience.”
Whatever hesitations Paige had quickly evaporated the moment she stepped foot on set. “She was so kind,” she says of Dunham. “So open. She wants to be better. She wants to do better. She wants to listen. She wants to engage. She has a really great attitude even when she’s dealing with illnesses. She was just a pleasant surprise of love. I hate cancel culture. I wish there was redemption culture.”
The Hollywood Reporter writes that Lena is “acutely aware” that she’ll be observed and judged more harshly than her peers re: race, and that “she shoulders the blame for that”:
“There are things I said in my 20s and 30s that I apologized for because I knew they came from a place of ignorance and lack of awareness,” Dunham says. (One example of many: when she told a journalist, “No one would be calling me a racist if they knew how badly I wanted to fuck Drake.”)
Lena also blames it on her youth and blind spots:
“But,” she says, “I was young, and I had huge blind spots. I came right at the cusp of the internet becoming a thing. The speed with which the hammer comes down is so much more intense right now. I am not one of those people who creates a binary between wokeness and good art — because I really like the fact that we live in a moment where people whose voices have historically been marginalized can speak out through the tool of the internet.
“At the same time,” she continues, “I have a huge amount of empathy for people who make mistakes. There came a point where I was sort of apologizing for breathing. That waters down the meaning of the words. I’d love the next decade to be less about apologizing and just about openly making art.”
Lena also shares that she hopes to reboot Girls someday, a la And Just Like That (which she says she loves… APOLOGIZE, LENA!). She’s even talked to HBO about it, although there aren’t any official plans. Lena says:
“We all recognize it’s not time yet. I want it to be at a moment when the characters’ lives have really changed. Right now, everyone would just be wanting to see Kylo Ren.”
Psh! As if Adam Driver would ever even return. He’s too busy working with real actresses like Scarlett Johansson, Jodie Comer, and THEE Lady Gaga.
Here are the pics from Lena’s THR spread: