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What are they (not) saying about Lena Dunham here?

Studio 360 is on with Kurt Anderson interviewing John Cameron Mitchell about the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. At the end, the conversation turns to Mitchell's cameo in Girls. So as I'm going through some old mail, I hear this unexpected moment of WTF:

Kurt Anderson: "That must have been fun."

JCM: "That was really fun. She's the real thing and weirdly un-ego'd. She's a fully formed adult."


Kurt Anderson: "Totally. And she's well brought up. Like it sounds you were . . .."

Of course this is one more way in which people who have already made it produce Lena Dunham as an intellectual "it" girl, by pouring empty praise on her: Mitchell's comments don't speak that much to talent, but about some essential "thing" that's Dunham's got. Then Anderson really brings it home [hah!] with the comment about her "upbringing." Whether you agree with how she was parented (from a distance it seems like she might have been raised rather like an artsy-feral child), this comment is NOT about her "upbringing," but about who her parents are. So just as JCM makes an attempt to establish Dunham as authentically talented (or something). Anderson undercuts that by making it about her family".

Just in case there are non-TSB-ers readings, I'm not saying that this was some sort of planned moment, but that this is one of the many little ways in which whiteness and privilege reproduce— and reveal—themselves. I don't know why its so verboten to say that Dunham's success is due in part to her connections that helped a network invest in a really young, pretty untested quantity. It's so there that Anderson almost can't help but bring it up (although tbf, he and Cameron talked a lot about family throughout.)


Interestingly, earlier, in talking about how the cultural conversation/s around queer/trans issues has changed since the first iteration of Hedwig, JCM says "I think those things have moved very quickly simply because people have come out. And when there's somebody in your family, you have to look at it in a different way."

This idea that you look at someone differently who is "family" certain seems to apply to some of the division over Dunham.


ETA: Some of the ways LD appears to run roughshod over people's feelings would be in my family evidence that she was NOT well brought up.

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