an open letter to lena dunham

Lena –

Hey, girl. I wanted to write you this open letter to let you know that I think you’re great. At least, I think I think you’re great. I’m afraid that people will jump down my throat, saying that I think a racist, xenophobic, fat-shaming  rich girl is great, but let me explain.

You come from a wealthy family, but that doesn’t mean you’re not talented. I find it really frustrating that people are so shaming in the fact that some famous people come from other famous, wealthy people. That’s okay, y’all. It’s not like you chose your womb, Lena. Science did. And just because you wanted to become a television writer, actress, screenplayer, and author does not a bad person make. You are what every writer wishes they were: in the right position to get their words in the right public forum. Yes, some writers will disagree with me. They’ll say the struggle is what makes the writer, what makes it worth it, etc. But I’d be lying if I said that I wish my parents weren’t a paraprofessional and chain restaurant owner, respectively. I live in the struggle, and frankly the struggle sucks. Your writing (re: Girls) is a view of what you’ve seen people struggle through. People complain that you don’t know what struggle is, but I’d say you just see it differently. Nobody can take away your own personal experiences. Don’t let them. But, this brings me to my next point.

You’ve done a sub-par job of representing communities other than seemingly wealthier, white individuals. But you’re attempting to address it. I respect that you said (in your interview with Terri Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air) that you write what you know, and what you know are white Jews and WASPs. I don’t think that people give you enough credit for claiming that. I know that might sound odd, but let me tell you, I’ve learned from personal experience that it’s hard for people who come from privilege to admit that they do in this day and age. I am currently a graduate student and I watch as wealthier, older, white, privileged people have to come to terms with the fact that they want to help people, but they don’t know how to do it without being labeled a “white savior.” You’re doing sort of the same thing. I think that you are doing what you can to address it while being respectful of an awkward line to toe. A word of advice that might help you advance this: ask some of your friends that are POC what they would write if they were in your position. Ask them what their experiences are. It wouldn’t hurt to include more POC in your show. And while we’re on that topic…

Your representation of gay people is kind of skewed. This is something I’ve probably struggled with the most since falling in love with Girls (the show, not all of the females..teehee.) Your representation of anything remotely queer is two things: two very beautiful, self-identified-as-straight women making out with each other while in the company of a straight man, and Andrew Rannells. The two issues I have, that I think I just wanted to make you aware of in a way that isn’t accusatory, are coming from my lesbian standpoint. I want you to know that nothing really can make me more bummed out than the way you represented women with those two girls making out. I don’t know if you did it to prove lenasome form of a point that “sometimes that happens,” or that dudes are creepy and only want threesomes, or what, but it just made me shudder. It wasn’t a realistic thing to do, especially for two girls that didn’t get along. When I identified as straight, I didn’t feel like I wanted to make out with a girl that hung out with me that I didn’t really enjoy. I think that part was a little bit for shock factor, and that makes me sad because I think your writing is way above that. The other thing is Andrew Rannells. I have nothing against him, but same with The New Normal: in what world is this an adequate representation of reality? Not all gay men fit the pretty, semi-feminine stereotype. You know that. I know that. Let’s get some more adequate representation there. I would believe you’d have to live under a rock to not know any LGBTQ folks who are a little more in line with what you’re casting on your show. You can do a better job of that. I know it.

You’ve made some mistakes. Sometimes, I think people forget that you are a human being. One with feelings, at that. I wasn’t huge on the tweet of you saying you were feeling “a little fundamentalist,” and I didn’t like when you said you were “thin for Detroit.” I also understand that not all people are fully self-aware of what they are doing in a moment. You’ve been criticized like woah, and every single time you have apologized. For some reason, that gets much less attention. Instead, people demonize you. I’m sorry that happens. When I wrote my first Ask a Lesbian, the comments section went nuts on me. I now write a disclaimer stating that things are from my own personal view to save myself from having people say I’m making claims for all lesbians. I don’t know how you would do that, but I say fuck it. You’re representing what you know, you’re fumbling along the way, but you’re staying authentic. I truly believe that you don’t exist to be harmful with your words. I see your true intention, and I find it similar to mine: You’re trying to tell your story in a way that’s entertaining and new. And, contrary to the naysayers, it’s working.

In short, Lena, keep on keepin’ on. Nobody comes to our doors and tells us to stop living our lives the way we do. Don’t let anybody do that to you.

Literally. I wouldn’t recommend giving your address out, because you’re famous and that could lead to some problems. Put a screen lock on your phone and such.

xo,
alison

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