“Dunham will continue to play the victim card.”
AUSTIN, TX – When I heard Lena Dunham was going to be speaking at SXSW, I repressed my repulsion at her distinctly liberal politics because I genuinely enjoy some of her work. What kind of person would I be if I allowed my own political affiliations to blind me to the art of people I differ with ideologically? I would come to regret that mindset as I sat through an insufferable hour where art was barely mentioned, and where the keynote address was instead a platform for the creator of Girls to rant about Hollywood’s sexist mentality.
Now, I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist at all in America. Such a broad statement is virtually impossible to prove. However, Dunham’s criticisms of the industry that gave her everything she has are fairly easy to disprove. Her threats to quit acting were likely an empty threat designed to bring attention to her crusade against what she perceives as the rough lot of women in the industry.
When news broke that Adam Driver, who plays Adam on girls, may possibly play a Darth Vader type villain in the new Star Wars movies, the entertainment industry was abuzz. This apparently annoyed Dunham, who said, “The world is ready to see Adam as a million different men — playing good guys and bad guys and sweet guys and scary guys. The world is ready to see Adam do all that. It’s not ready to see Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet or Jemima Kirke stretch their legs in the same variety of diverse roles… And this is not a knock on Adam’s talent… It’s a knock on a world where women are typecast and men can play villains, Lotharios and nerds in one calendar year and something has to change and I’m trying.”
This sentiment is ultimately not accurate for the actresses who have appeared on Girls. Zosia Mamet plays the hyperactive, insecure woman-child Shoshanna on Dunham’s show, but have you seen her character on Mad Men? She’s a completely different person, playing the overly confident, almost masculine character Joyce Ramsey. That type of transformation thrilled me as a viewer, and I think Dunham and her cast mates are all working in a field where they are afforded those types of opportunities.
The real question is, does Dunham possess the talent to transcend the characters she was written for herself to play, which are basically just extensions of herself? If you’ve seen any of her other other films, the answer is likely no. There are a great deal of actresses that have expressed their versatility in one calendar year. Jennifer Lawrence plays the strong heroine Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, and in the same year portrays the chain smoking ditzy wife Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle. Yet Dunham will continue to play the victim card, angry that the industry that has given her more than any one could hope to receive is still not giving her enough.