Lena Dunham: “America Is At Its Most Puritanical”
Lena Dunham believes “America is at its most puritanical.” The “Girls” creator made the comment during a censorship discussion at the Sundance Film Festival’s “Power of Story: Serious Ladies” panel on Saturday, which also featured Kristen Wiig, Mindy Kaling, and “Orange Is The New Black” creator Jenji Kohan.
Dunham was addressing some of the criticism of her HBO comedy series, and argued, “The fact is people are forgetting that humor is a tool for debate. That boycott, censorship, shut ‘em down approach to humor shows a very basic lack of understanding of what humor can do for us culturally and what it has always done.”
The writer-actress not only objects to people being unable to view her show through a humorous lens, but also the seeming inability to separate her from her character Hannah. Dunham has made clear on several occasions that they are two separate identities, but lamented, “People equate the words coming out of your character’s mouth with a real life philosophy that you don’t possess.”
She went on to point out that it doesn’t seem to be an issue Larry David or Woody Allen have faced, noting that people still see them as individuals despite playing semi-autobiographical characters. “Woody Allen is proof that people don’t think everything he says in his films is stuff that he does because all he was doing was making out with 17-year olds for years and we didn’t say anything about it,” she told the crowd. “No one went that, ‘Woody Allen is making out with a 17-year old in Manhattan and I guess he’s a real perv.’ And then lo and behold.”
Dunham also spoke about another issue she feels passionately about: women’s rights. An outspoken advocate for equality, the star complained that the battle over reproductive rights still rages on. “The idea that women can’t be complete and total citizens until they have control over the destiny of their own bodies,” she said, “it’s not just a political issue, it’s a lot about class, race and it feeds into all these other forms of inequality and injustice that exist in our country.”
“One of the reasons it is important to talk about campus assaults is that that these women in positions of incredible privilege are still being forced every day to fight for their truth and that is indicative of the fact that sexual assault is an epidemic and so many people are voiceless,” said Dunham, who wrote about her own college assault in her controversial memoir. She went on to say, “I think campuses are a great place to start because that’s where we’re being educated and that’s where we’re told we’re going to be safe.”
And what about some of the negative reaction her book, I’m Not That Girl, has received? “I think the thing about expressing yourself is you have to be ready for all kinds of reactions and I feel so lucky about the support I’ve gotten both from the people close to me and my readers and I love the experience,” she said. What do you think of Dunham’s latest comments?