Last night, Lena Dunham interviewed her very close friend Miranda July at BAM, about July's dark, complicated, and incredible new book, The First Bad Man. Dunham wore magenta sparkles; played a charming Q&A game involving Post-its; and came across as curious, a true creative spirit, and someone we'd like very much to be great friends with. July wore leather pants and spoke articulately about her process, her ideas about the world, and the value of Klonopin as "the little gift [she gives herself] on tour." Among other things. The two made cracks about men in cardigans and prop poop, accepted a scarf from a fan, and generally made every woman in the (predominantly female) room feel amazing about the magic of powerful, creative women. But, most importantly, they validated a few things we've believed for a long time now. Specifically...
1. Everyone completely misreads the situation sometimes — especially when love and/or lust are involved.
July went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat (a few of them, actually) where she wasn't allowed to speak to or make eye contact with anyone. Yet, somehow, she found herself falling for someone there — a woman she identified as a "powerful, butch lesbian" with short hair and a beautiful neck. She wasn't even allowed to smile at this woman, but she felt a magnetic draw anyway. And then, at the end of the whole thing, when silent time was over, the woman put on a pink appliqué sweatshirt and mom jeans, got into a minivan with her husband, and left. Complete misread. But, it could happen to anyone, because as Dunham put it, "If you want it badly enough, you can mistake anyone for someone you could love." Both true and terrifying. Also, Carrie Brownstein wrote an entire Portlandia episode based on this story, and it is fantastic.
2. We're not the only ones who still harbor a crush on Cameron Diaz.
In an imaginary casting exercise for a potential movie version of The First Bad Man, the two writers started with ScarJo and then admitted that J Lawr would be the obvious choice, but eventually conceded that there just aren't enough well-known pear-shaped women in Hollywood (July envisions Cheryl, the protagonist, as a pear and absolutely can't be flexible on that element). They'd just have to cast a talented unknown. But first, Dunham pointed out that "15 years ago, it would have definitely been Cameron Diaz...with her 'I play football; I drink beer' thing." July agreed, and given her obvious affection for the character, we feel pretty confident that this is the highest praise Dunham could have offered. Can we interest anyone in a screening of The Sweetest Thing?
3. "Quirky" and "adorkable" are just as wretched as you think they are.
Turns out, Dunham hates the word "quirky." ("One of my biggest rages is when people use the word "quirky" around you and your work. It fills me with a hot lava of anger that’s impossible to describe.") July agrees, and lumps in the word adorkable, too. "It's a lazy-journalist thing to do," she says, "especially with a woman." But, she wants to be clear that the dark elements of her book are not meant to prove anything to those people — and they didn't keep people from continuing to refer to her that way, anyway, in intros to interviews and in reviews. “I was just trying to write a good book that, like all my work, had darkness and humor in it.” After all, "retaliation only gets you so far, and then you're out in the desert alone."