Lena Dunham: ‘The Hollywood system is rigged in favor of white people’

Lena Dunham

Over the weekend, “Lena Dunham” was trending on Twitter. I clicked on it half-expecting it to be some fresh hell of Lena lying about doing poppers or calling another rape victim a liar. But her name was trending because people were discussing a three-year old Hollywood Reporter story about how HBO greenlighted Lena’s show Girls.

Lena told THR in that story that she gave HBO “the worst pitch you’ve ever read… It was like, ‘They’re everything, they’re nothing, they’re everywhere, they’re nowhere.’ It’s pretentious and horrifying, but I remember sitting on the floor, listening to Tegan and Sara in my underwear, being like, ‘I’m a genius.’” I remember Lena telling versions of that pitch-meeting story many times over the years, and every time she told it, she annoyed the hell out of other writers and creators, especially black and brown creators. Lena has always been narcissism wrapped in nepotism and sprinkled with white privilege. And so Lena saw that her name was trending, and she decided to tweet about it:

Eh. I’m fine with her saying this. I mean, I don’t agree with her assessment that she didn’t know what privilege was until recently, because I remember all of the conversations about Girls when the show first began. There was A LOT about privilege, nepotism, narcissism and whiteness. Girls started in 2012!! And Lena only learned about privilege when exactly? Who knows. But again, whatever. She’s not doing something awful in this particular instance with her tweets.

Guests attend the Friendly House 30th Annual Awards Luncheon

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Backgrid.

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38 Responses to “Lena Dunham: ‘The Hollywood system is rigged in favor of white people’”

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  1. Digital Unicorn says:

    Of course it is and thats why YOU have a career you dimwit.

    • Dtab says:

      She is genuinely one of the most annoying ‘Celebs’ (and I use that term loosely) out there, she needs to go crawl in a hole and never emerge from it again.

    • Sara says:


    • JJ says:

      I would posit that Lena also is the benefactor of extreme wealth and connections, in addition to white privilege. That she was able to walk away successfully from a pitch meeting, having prepped with a poorly sketched idea for a show – or even to get such a meeting, at all; is the benefit of her family’s wealth and status. For her to just say “white privilege” seems like it is painting in too broad strokes – yes, but it also seems like an attempt to obscure the advantages that she had over 99.5% of people, even before having a single episode of Girls approved and funded.

      The more I learn about actors, (TV/movie) writers, models, and comedians, it seems that a lot of Hollywood is that way, although not necessarily to Lena’s extreme. Children of wealthy or industry people seem to have an easier time succeeding and advancing in the industry – either by virtue of their connections, or because finances or having other jobs are not a stressor for them while they are trying to establish their entertainment careers.

  2. Penguin says:

    Girls, in my opinion, is an absolute dumpster fire of a show. I watched the first few episodes and it genuinely enraged me.

    • Jo73c says:

      I couldn’t even make it all the way through the first episode. By about ten minutes in I realised it is a horrible show about terrible, pretentious arseholes.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      me too. the bf liked it for the first couple of seasons, and I watched a few eps with him and EVERY time I was like “WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS SHOW?!” because it IS just a bunch of whiny, privileged white girls. enraging is about right.

      and she really needs a stylist. she often wears clothes that aren’t wacky and def pretty but DO NOT suit her. I don’t understand why she always looks so frumpy, even when effort is put in.

    • Annabel says:

      Same. I’m white, but I grew up working class, and I just… didn’t get it. I couldn’t understand how anyone could be as simultaneously privileged and ungrateful as those girls were. Lena Dunham’s character was so immature that I was legit waiting for a medical reveal, like “Hannah, your dad and I never told you this before because we didn’t want you to feel different, but you have a mental age of 14.”

    • Arpeggi says:

      Honestly, you watch Insecure and you know that that was the show LD dreamed she could have managed to write. And obviously failed to deliver.

      I’ve skimmed through the episodes; after the 1st season they were too insufferable to want to watch regularly, but I’ve seen enough episodes to sort of follow the story. I’ll be fair and say that some things about Girls were interesting. Adam Driver for instance, even if his character wasn’t well build, managed to make something out of it. The episode with Patrick Wilson wasn’t bad. Shoshana’s character ended up being the one that had the greatest personal growth and recognized that they all hated each other and shouldn’t be friends. But still, you feel like you’ve wasted 23min of your life at the end on most episodes. It’s easy enough to watch entitled brats IRL, I don’t need to see them on TV too

  3. Seraphina says:

    I have no idea who she is until this morning. I did a quick search on her and her show. The cast listing shows no one of color. So corvette me if I am wrong please. Personally, she needs to keep quiet because as DU stated, her privilege most likely got her the job she had.

  4. Kiera says:

    Look I’m not a Lena fan at all. But I know what she means about privilege. I was born into a very wealthy family; private schools, ski house in Jackson Hole, whole shebang. The problem is when you live in that world you assume everyone else is like that because everyone around you is. It was only in my mid twenties that I really began to see how privileged I was because I left the bubble of it. While I was in it I knew I was lucky but didn’t really see that it was privilege. Thankfully I do now but it took a lot of learning and life experience to be able to recognize it. I’m not going to put words in her mouth but I can see how coming from her background she wouldn’t recognize privilege as it was happening but only from a distance.

    • jess says:

      Look, I get it. The place of hardship is not a place that you and lena recognize. The PROBLEM is that this lack of awareness causes harm and violence. This is the same white feminist who threw a serious accusation at Odell Beckham Jr during the Met Gala in 2016. Without speaking to this man, she assumed that the reason why he did not talk to her during the Gala was because she was fat and how that was not right. She went on an entire tirade because a handsome POC did not interact with her. She pretty much projected her insecurities onto this man which white women do on a regular basis. Celebitchies saw how white women did this to Meghan Markle for more than two years straight and are still doing so. You know what happened when an entitled and privileged white Institutions/Man/Woman lie and project on a POCs? We face VIOLENCE. This white woman literally lied and projected her shortcomings onto him. This is exactly what happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till was only fourteen when a bunch of white men brutally murdered this child; they gouged out his eye, shot him in the head and then threw his body, tied to the cotton-gin fan with barbed wire, into the river. They killed him because a white woman accused him that he was flirting with a white woman who, btw, later came out and admitted that SHE LIED.

      For you and lena it’s a bubble, but for a lot of us, it’s violence and/or death. I find it convenient how she now suddenly wants this discourse when this asshole has been trying to shy away from it like how she molested her own sister which everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten?

      This is why I cannot take white feminists like her and taylor swift seriously. The only reason why they’re speaking out about their privilege is because their career took or will take a hit soon because of BLM.

      • superashes says:

        Yeah, Taylor has been great lately, and I don’t want to say people can’t or shouldn’t be permitted to change for the better, but at the same time this also seems to be presenting a golden opportunity for people to be let off the hook for their past behaviors. I’m not saying Lena is responsible for how hollywood operates, or that she knowingly exploited the racial disparities, but Taylor has done (or at the very least refused to address) some problematic things in the not too distant past.

    • delorb says:

      Not coming down on you personally, but how could you not know? I know there are rich people on the planet just by opening a book or a magazine. I know there are poor people struggling just by turning on the TV. I’ve never understood this excuse.

  5. Sean says:

    She reminds me of the two dingbats who created the Game Of Thrones series. Had no idea what they were doing and were completely out of their depth, yet were enabled by a major provider to get their own show.

  6. AndaPanda says:

    I was having a group text discussion about this sort of thing with my friends. I am an Ivy league educated woman of color with an engineering degree that also happens to come from a middle class family of parents that were raised in a blue color household. Basically, my parents grew up very poor and did very well for themselves considering the circumstances they were born into. They instilled a fierce work ethic in my siblings and me. Seeing the boss’s daughter get promoted really over her with no real work really had an effect on my sister. She went to two prestigious universities and has a masters. I see white men and women getting promoted that I know don’t work very hard, are not talented but are often given the benefit of the doubt. I always wonder, do these people think they are really that much better? Do they think it’s coincidence that management and the C-suite are mostly white people, mostly men? I am realizing, the answer is yes. They think they deserve where they are because they are the best for the job and we have an unbiased meritocracy. My mind has been blown these last few weeks hearing my colleagues from age 25-60 tell me they didn’t realize they have privilege. I am able to realize my privilege in some spaces, but it’s like we live in two different realities in the US. I really think you have to choose ignorance to think there is no racism or preferential treatment given to some people. It seems some people are finally waking up, so I am cautiously optimistic.

  7. Angel says:

    Everybody is denouncing it. Nobody is actually doing something about it.

    • Tiffany says:

      THANK YOU !!!

      I ain’t mad at what she tweeted, but is fails in that she will not use that privilege to elevate Black talent.

  8. Sunbow says:

    Why did they only cast Jewish people? It didn’t seem to be a plot point that I’m aware of. And trust I’m not some antisemetic, MAGA a-hole.

  9. Kiera says:

    Hi Jess,

    I first off want to apologize that what I wrote wound up being a defense of Lena. I truly dislike her and what she stands for. She is a troll and provacateur disguised as an auteur who has been given way to many passes. Everything you wrote is 100% correct. My bubble allowed me to be in a very priviledge position that can be a dangerous one for others. I guess what I was trying to say was that when you get born into that bubble it is hard to look outside of it becuase no one is challenging you to. You don’t realize that this is your priviledge to not look outside of it becuase you aren’t even really aware you are in one. I was aware of injustice and horrible things that happened but always thought it was becuase of horrible overtly racist people. It took me pushing myself outside of my bubble to see that even though the people I grew up with weren’t racist, we had benefited from a racist system and had bought into the priviledge it provided us because it was easy to. It reinforced the idea that we had worked hard for what we got when in reality I was born on 3rd. The only thing I have had to do was make sure I did what I had to do to stay there or get to home plate. I have been working to make sure I check myself when needed and that as I raise my daughter she is aware of her position of priviledge.

    I’m sorry that you had to take your morning to educate me/point out that I defended Lena. It isn’t your job to and I can only imagine how exhausting it is to do so. I appreciate that you took the time to write a response as it made me really see the impact of my words. You shouldn’t have had to and I hope in the future I can be a better ally.

  10. detritus says:

    Never thought I’d see the day when Lena Dunham has a better take than Terry Crews

  11. Lunasf17 says:

    I guess she is finally learning to shut up and her extreme privilege so I’ll give her credit for that. I finished girls over quarantine and the last few seasons are so bad. I actually liked the first few but it’s definitely problematic. As mentioned in other comments not only is she white and wealthy but her family is well connected and she was living in NYC. It’s just so much harder for people of color and/or people that aren’t from LA or NYC to get into this business and aren’t well connected. I love Angelina Jolie and she has done so much good with her fame but she also was given those opportunities early on because she was also from a wealthy, famous and well connected family and was in LA. If she was a nobody from Nebraska she probably wouldn’t have the career she has had and Lena would probably be working at wal mart like many of my classmates are (nothing wrong with that at all!). So many people are given these opportunities because of where they live or who their family is. It sucks and we need different stories being made.

  12. Kumquat says:

    Kaiser busting out that hideous pic of Lena in the “surface of the sun” dress (as I’ve officially dubbed it in my head) is the delicious cattiness I needed this morning.

    /never watched anything w/ Lena in it

  13. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    Here goes awful human LD, trying to stay relevant by being a white savior, after pitching her awful program of all white characters.


    Shut up, Lena.

  14. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Still hate her. And her tweets are bare minimum at best. She was a rich white girl from NYC whose parents gave her $60k to make a movie and didn’t realize she was privileged? Yeah. Still hate her.

  15. MA says:

    Pretty words and vague calls to action. She’s a writer so she can make things sound good. What has she DONE about it? What is she going to DO about it in her world?!

  16. Geeena says:

    Okay, to avoid rehashing everything about Lena Dunham that has not and will not change, how are so many people, especially white female celebrities getting away with claiming they didn’t know what privilege was or realize how it functioned? These women certainly notice when they get special treatment, and they FOR SURE notice those rare times that they don’t (and bring out their inner Karens). Are we expected to believe all these women just waking up never noticed racial inequality? Never had an US or world history class?

  17. AMM says:

    The entire main cast were girls with famous and rich parents. The whole show from start to finish was about privileged white girls, brought to you by privileged white girls. It was ridiculous.

  18. M. says:

    These people are really good at copying and pasting:
    1-I learned my lesson
    2-i need to listen
    3-i am aware now of White priviledge
    4-I take responsibility
    They always knew about White priviledge, they always knew about racism and discrimination.
    This hypocrisy makes me cringe. Thanksfully Black People are not fooled by it anymore.

  19. Portmanteau says:

    Did Halle Berry reeeeeaaally let Billy Bob penetrate her during her Oscar winning performance in Monsters Ball(s)?????