I struggled with trying to love Girls. If you’re Jewish (check) and from the New York area (check), pop culture dictates that you’re supposed to idolize Lena Dunham. Her success as an ingénue (or perhaps inge-not is more apropos) is impressive, although not totally surprising: Judd Apatow has launched many a young star’s career. Yet to the critics she is the goddess of cutting-edge media. Dunham is a prophetess to the Cult of Hip, calling forth her own good fortune through her Girls character Hannah Horvath’s self-defined “voice of a generation” declaration.
In all fairness, Dunham is riding the wave of praise being thrown at her. While she may be reveling, Hannah Horvath and her compatriots are unraveling. In fact, this reluctant viewer was pleased to find the hidden appeal of Girls lies in the stark contrast between the critical glorification and the truly inglorious nature of the characters for whom they rave. These women (and men) are not heroes. In fact, they are as painfully human as is their creator. Yet, according to the critics, these women have a major responsibility to goddess culture. For the PC-mongers, Dunham has failed in her role of earth mother to the more tan among us:
It’s not enough because there are people who are alienated, who routinely experience erasure of their own experiences for the sake of a joke or to set up a plot. There are those that would say it is her own right to write about whatever she wants, to exhibit characters in whatever way she desires. That’s true. But if we don’t evaluate our own privilege as white females than what are doing? How do we move forward? …What it comes down to for me is this. If feminism isn’t intersectional, it means nothing. Am I implying that all shows must be perfect reflections of diversity? No. But at the very least, they should not promote or play into trite racial or ethnic stereotypes.
While for the “We Have Arrived” Bitch crowd strutting in their slut walks, Dunham’s show is a vehicle for the salvation of our culture:
Despite the ups and downs of the season, Girls remains one of the most interesting and emotionally resonant looks into the inner lives of women and allows for discussion of our personal experiences. Through this season, we’ve had discourse on female friendships, bisexuality, mental illness, rape and consent amongst so many other issues and these are all extremely important conversations that can illuminate what we need more of in our media and culture and what desperately needs to change.
At a glance, these are dichotomous critiques, yet both share a core belief feeding the goddess mindset: the demand for self-sacrifice on the altar of the culturally defined greater good. Whether Dunham is using her white privilege to lift up minorities, or exposing the painful realities of her OCD to focus attention on mental health issues, the expectation is the same: Dunham is the promised lamb to be sacrificed on the altar of Girls.