Lena Dunham Opens Up About Racial Missteps With Phoebe Robinson

Photo: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock.
Lena Dunham got the chance to explain her perspective on some of the public criticisms she's received in the past few years. The Girls creator and star appeared on comedian Phoebe Robinson's WNYC podcast, Sooo Many White Guys., where she and Robinson discussed Dunham's history of creating controversy with her racially tone-deaf language and behavior.

"I'm never mad and I never feel victimized when people point out that they've been injured in some way by my behavior...I truly don't feel like I deserve a certain kind of pass for my feminism or for my politics," Dunham said. "When you're living your life in the public eye, you will fuck up and you will fall down and the only power you have is to apologize and keep moving."

Specifically, Dunham addressed the incident in September 2016 when she riled people with her comments about her perception that Odell Beckham Jr. was not attracted to her. "I'm not saying that this is in any way an excuse, [but] I move through the world feeling very awkward...it was at a table of notably beautiful women sitting there...I'm just having the experience of being a self-conscious girl around what I consider to be like a hot, desirable athlete. So that was just projecting my own insecurity."

She continued, "I hadn't understood the way that it fed into a very dark history of, you know, Black men being lynched for not responding to white women in the way white women felt they were supposed to be responded to." Dunham went on, "I understood the minute that that was pointed out to me what the issue was...I was seeing myself as the chubby 14-year-old I am inside of myself, and not the person who is a cultural figure who has the power to say something that could be hurtful and destructive."

Then they pivoted to the backlash against the lack of diversity on the first seasons Girls, which takes place in the diverse borough of Brooklyn. "There was just a certain amount of ignorance," Dunham admitted, referring to her privileged white liberal upbringing. "I almost wasn't making a choice because choice implies knowledge...at that point, to be totally frank, I didn't have enough women of color in my life talking to me about what representation meant to them for me to even understand that my show would be seen and have that kind of power."

But the most exciting part of the interview came when Dunham stated that she won't be making another series that makes the mistake of having such a non-diverse cast. "We're not going to make another show that has four white girls on the poster," she promises, "because now we've been very deeply educated about how much representation matters." In other words, we'll be tuning into whatever show Dunham makes after Girls ends this spring.
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