Lena Dunham - Facing bouquets and brickbats in unequal measure

Lena Dunham - Facing bouquets and brickbats in unequal measure

Having just celebrated her 27th birthday on May 13th, Lena Dunham continues to be, in her own words, "the voice of a generation". Her self-written series, "Girls", received a BAFTA award in the International series category, thus bringing the series to the attention of British audiences. However, despite this success and her meteoric rise to the top of the entertainment industry, Dunham's unwavering honesty continues to provoke and anger her critics worldwide. This gives rise to the question, "Why do we love to loathe a successful woman like Lena”? Given her tender age and the many accolades she has received, one would imagine that Lena Dunham, already on TIME’s list of most influential women of 2013, would inspire others to be like her; ambitious and unwaveringly honest. However, the criticism, which comes her way, brings forth a number of questions as to why successful women are not celebrated as much as they should be. From being criticized for being brutally honest, or for belonging to the privileged high-class, it is surprising that an apparently forward-thinking society would highlight matters which are comparatively unimportant when compared with the larger issues addressed by her through her television series and real life persona. Following comparisons between “Girls” and its predecessor “Sex and the City”, Dunham has stated on record that her intention was to shift from the utopian, glamorous lifestyles and “impossibly perfect” relationships of the series and to bring forth real-life elements to her own series. She states that women in general are a lot more vindictive, envious and insecure about each other than they let on. Indeed based on the kind of bullying she has endured, it appears to be true. For every individual who lauds her for her honest portrayals of women, there are scores of others who take to online forums to criticize her. She has been accused of overexposing herself, both in context with the nudity present in most of the “Girls” episodes, as well as in context with the constant oscillation between self-love and self-loathing, which all her characters appear to experience in extreme measures. Her argument for this is that it is true of most people, lending fuel to the discussion therefore that all people are not emotionally unhinged and addicted to solving their problems via random intimate encounters, which leave them feeling even worse about themselves. These arguments, if restricted in context with her professional output, i.e. the series, would be valid, but in Dunham’s case, they spill over to involve her personal life as well. Entire bylines and websites have the “I love to hate Lena Dunham” tag, where her fashion sense, popular lines from the show, and even her upbringing are negated beyond the limits of human decency. It would be safe to state that the same people who love to hate her, would not be this upset with her had she not been a rich, very successful person. However, she is rich, famous and influential. Surprisingly, there are more women than men who constitute the “anti-Lena” group. Her current net worth is $1.5 million and she recently signed a book deal with Random House publications worth $3.5 million; this too is attributed to her “privileged upbringing” and “industry connections”. Thankfully however, she appears to be taking the hatred and criticisms in her stride, and is continuing to traverse new heights with her series, book as well as an upcoming comedy series which she is directing for HBO. It is hoped that successful women like her are lauded rather than loathed in future, and that the spirit of sisterhood will overcome the over currents of insecurity and envy which are portrayed both on screen as well as in real life.

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