Lena Dunham forgives herself for her racism: ‘I was young & I had huge blind spots’

Lena Dunham is exhausting. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve come out of reading one of her magazine profiles and I just feel drained. Is she an energy vampire? I think she might be, because I genuinely think that’s a common reaction to Dunham’s whole deal, a feeling of “ugh, I don’t have the energy to get into everything that’s wrong here.” In addition to all of that, she’s an unreliable narrator of her own story, and she attracts writers who also want to play loosey-goosey with Lena’s actual history of racism, problematic behavior, defending rapists and possibly molesting her sister (and then bragging about it to the world). One of the craziest things about Lena’s Hollywood Reporter cover story is that they’re making a big f–king deal about how she went into “self-imposed exile” in the UK, but then Lena admits she moved back to LA in April 2020 and didn’t go back to London until last fall. You can’t make this sh-t up. Anyway, some highlights from this terrible Dunham piece:

The pandemic was a boon to her creativity: “I have always been by nature what I call a ‘bed creature… I’ve gotten used to the idea that there are times when my body’s not going to work for me and the only thing that I’m going to have is books and writing and my relationship to my work and making art.”

She got Covid in March 2020 and then: In April 2020, the pandemic having fully set in, Dunham hopped a flight from London to Los Angeles and crashed at a friend’s house in Silver Lake. Her rescue dog, a Mexican hairless pug named Ingrid, was her constant companion. She then decided to make L.A. her home for a while. She rented a place in a “bougie mobile home park in Malibu” where she drove a golf cart to the local market and chatted with her retiree neighbors.

She wrote & directed Sharp Stick during the pandemic: “My dad called it a ‘sexual fable,’” she says of her new film, which stars Kristine Froseth as Sarah Jo, a 26-year-old woman whose carnal development is interrupted by a hysterectomy at age 17. When Sarah Jo, a babysitter, loses her virginity to her employer (played by Jon Bernthal), it unleashes within her something wild, alien and wonderful. “It was about trying to understand the impact [my hysterectomy] had on me. It was about processing my life. And then, obviously, it becomes about the characters — and not about you at all.”

On her self-imposed exile: “I just realized that the experience of Girls and my 20s was such an all-encompassing hurricane of both validation and derision that in order for me to keep that place of myself that loved to make art, that was what needed to happen.”

She loves ‘And Just Like That’. “It was such a pleasure to see those women back together and to see them take on middle-age sexuality. For me, those are women who can do no wrong.”

People criticizing her looks: “People had a very swift and strong and allergic reaction to what I looked like, and they made it very clear to me. I was getting messages — many, many, many of them a day — about what I looked like. Things most people will never have said to them in their lives because most of polite society keeps people from walking up to each other at a Target and going like, ‘You’re fat, you’re ugly and you deserve to die.’” She estimates half of the messages came from women. “I think people would think it would be like Trump-loving men in the heartland. But it was women. Probably women with similar body types to me who had internalized the kind of hatred that we are supposed to have of our bodies. If they weren’t going to enjoy their body, then I sure as hell wasn’t supposed to enjoy mine.”

On her racism: “There are things I said in my 20s and 30s that I apologized for because I knew they came from a place of ignorance and lack of awareness,” Dunham says. (One example of many: when she told a journalist, “No one would be calling me a racist if they knew how badly I wanted to f–k Drake.”) “But, I was young, and I had huge blind spots. I came right at the cusp of the internet becoming a thing. The speed with which the hammer comes down is so much more intense right now. I am not one of those people who creates a binary between wokeness and good art — because I really like the fact that we live in a moment where people whose voices have historically been marginalized can speak out through the tool of the internet. At the same time. I have a huge amount of empathy for people who make mistakes. There came a point where I was sort of apologizing for breathing. That waters down the meaning of the words. I’d love the next decade to be less about apologizing and just about openly making art.”

[From THR]

The way she excuses her long history of problematic behavior and racist statements is really something. She infantilizes herself and tries to pretend that she was merely a precocious teenager with racial blind spots and not a rich, educated adult woman with privilege and access. Some of her most despicable and racist sh-t happened in her 30s!! She was 31 years old when she called Aurora Perrineau a liar and defended her rapist friend Murray Miller. She was 30 when she said that racist sh-t about Odell Beckham Jr. at the Met Gala. And no, no one was expecting her to apologize for “breathing.” Society was trying to hold her accountable for her neverending list of offensive, terrible and damaging words and behavior.

I’m still stuck on the fact that she moved to Malibu in April 2020 too. That was after she had (by her own account) a terrible case of Covid in March, and the entire time she was living in Malibu, she was pretending to be in “self-imposed exile” in the UK? How utterly bizarre.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Instagram.

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81 Responses to “Lena Dunham forgives herself for her racism: ‘I was young & I had huge blind spots’”

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  1. Char says:

    Obviously she loves “And Just Like That”! She’s the type of person who needs to be praised all the time for being “woke”, just like the ladies in the show.

    • Tee says:

      This! I said the same thing as soon as I read that.

    • bettyrose says:

      Yep. If I didn’t know anything about her that would tell me all I needed to know. That show is such a validation of women like Lena.

    • Meg says:

      Ugh exactly you’d have to think those women can do no wrong in order to like and just like that, I couldn’t make it past the 4th or 5th episode

  2. Becks1 says:

    Okay, I just had to check how old she was because the way she was talking about the internet, she sounded like she was in her 40s or 50s. She’s 35. So in her 20s and 30s (lets say the last 10-15 years)….no, that was not “the cusp of the internet becoming a thing.” the internet has been a thing for a YEARS. Maybe I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say 15 years ago, before social media, things were different but even Facebook came out in what, 2003ish? I know I got an account right after I graduated college which was 2004. i’m 5 years older than Lena and have never thought of my 20s as “the cusp of the internet becoming a thing.” It WAS a thing by that point.

    • LadyMTL says:

      She’s trying to justify and excuse her awful behavior, so she’ll grasp at any straws no matter how ridiculous. There’s no way she was coming out with that ish ‘pre-Internet’…I was in uni in the late 90’s and already had internet access. Never mind that her comments about OBJ were only said about 5-6 years ago.

      This whole article just reminds me of why she’ll always be my BEC. I wish she would shut up and go away, she’s insufferable.

    • OriginalLaLa says:

      I’m about a year older than her and my 20s were not the cusp of the internet becoming a thing – unless she means social media?
      but ya, so many excuses and not much responsibility-taking…ugh.

    • Eurydice says:

      I was just going to post something like “cusp, what?”. Maybe she means Instagram? That was 2010 or so. I can kind of see how social media can create blind spots – you can hang with your like-minded friends who are also racist, weirdly problematic and tiresome people.

    • Sof says:

      I think she meant traditional media taking what happens online seriously. There was definitely a shift on that, everything said or liked online has real consequences now.
      Also, 2010’s was the era of tumblr, right? when everyone had “curated spaces” and it was easy to avoid certain topics, as @Eurydice just said.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      She was definitely old enough to know better. Even now, she makes it about being expected to apologize for….breathing. Ridiculous.

  3. mj says:

    Why does she have a career? Does anyone actually like her? She’s an exhausting narcissist with nothing interesting to say.

    • Liz Version 700 says:

      Right? She isn’t even a talented exhausting narcissist…. She literally drains the joy from a room. She is the original and unmatched Karen.

      • Still_Sarah says:

        @ Kaiser : You nailed it – it’s exhausting to even read her words and try to herd her thoughts into some kind of order or logic when it’s just not there.

        And the level of pretension! Re : “The pandemic was a boon to her creativity: “I have always been by nature what I call a ‘bed creature… I’ve gotten used to the idea that there are times when my body’s not going to work for me and the only thing that I’m going to have is books and writing and my relationship to my work and making art.” Wow.

    • AppleCart says:

      I will never get over the fact she went into an HBO meeting with a basic outline of what Girls was. But she had the power of nepotism and backed by Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner. And HBO threw money at her. But other writers and POC if they didn’t have a 5 year bible they couldn’t even get a foot in the door for a meeting.

  4. NCDancer says:

    She’s just worst. So completely oblivious and lacking in self-awareness.

  5. Léna says:

    I’m actually really mad that the famous Lena are pretty problematic haha damn it

  6. Roo says:

    I’m with you, Kaiser. I have no patience for this self-indulgent woman. I find her exhausting, too. Despite her ability to talk at length about herself, she seems to have zero capacity for self-analysis.

  7. els says:

    Lmao It feels on brand for her. 🤣 I sometimes wonder how this nut still have a strong career with all the creepy bullshit she pulled all these years. No seriously I wonder.

  8. L84Tea says:

    I always want to take a very hot shower after listening to her and looking at her. So draining!

  9. Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

    Years ago, I heard about this exciting new female filmmaker who made a brilliant indie movie about the perils of being young today. It was called Tiny Furniture. I already had kids, but they very young, and I thought I was, too. I watched the movie and found myself YELLING INTERNALLY at Lena – her character was really just her, not even veiled, much less thinly – to GROW THE FRAK UP!!!! That’s when I realized that, as a Gen X’r, I was old. Lololololol

  10. Jenn says:

    Is this a safe space to discuss how awful And Just Like That is?

    Also, is it just me, or does she have a new pet every five minutes?

    • Zoro says:

      Yes, I think it’s safe. First, let me confess, I have watched every episode and will undoubtedly finish the series with gusto but I am totally with you that it’s terrible… I think the problem for me is that as I’ve gotten older I realize Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte are people I’d actually hate in real life.

      • superashes says:

        LMAO, pretty much this right here. I can’t bring myself to watch the show. Each time I consider it I hear Carrie narrating in my head and I’m like “hard m-fing pass”

        I think I might have truly hated her by the last season.

      • tealily says:

        I don’t hate it and I am watching it, but yes, I do hate all the characters. All of them. Much like Girls, I’m a little bit enjoying watching it while absolutely hating everyone involved. It’s disconcerting.

      • goofpuff says:

        I only watched for Samantha. I would loooove to be her friend. I could even be friendly with Miranda. Carrie and Charlotte are insufferable and especially Carrie. She is the friend you could never depend on, will stab you in the back, and steal anything from you.

      • Nic919 says:

        I only hated Carrie by the time the original series ended. Now I dislike them all, except Samantha because she isn’t on the show and I never watched the movies.

        But yes I will watch it.

  11. Bookie says:

    Of course she forgives herself.

  12. girl_ninja says:

    She is a terrible, selfish and entitled monster. Periodt. I think of other people who have f**ked up and not even CLOSE to this person has done and don’t get second chances. I am amazed and disgusted at whiteness and how it allows for certain (many) white people to get away with anything. She is a disgrace.

    • Debbie says:

      Whenever I see her, I can’t help but remember the time she sat by Odell Beckham, Jr. during a dinner party. Apparently, she was unattached and thought that Beckham would (of course) make a pass at her despite the fact that she’s a Lena Dunham. She thought, “Well I’m white so that trumps whatever other shortcomings I may have. Plus, despite the fact that he’s a rich, famous athlete who (probably) gets his share of women, he’s black so he must be interested in me.” Lena Dunham was disillusioned after Beckham basically ignored her during the dinner and consulted his phone instead. Instead of forgetting the event, like a normal person, Lena gives an interview where she says that Beckham TOLD HER he wasn’t into her because she was overweight and not conventionally hot; thereby casting him as a sexist who lacks depth. She completely dreamed up the whole incident to fee her ego because he dared not to be interested in her! After Beckham made a statement like, “Lena Who?” Lena finally admitted she had made up the whole insulting her physical appearance scenario.

      Now she’s complaining about having to apologize for breathing. THAT is a whole different level of “Karen.” THAT is approaching Emmet Till levels, but I’m sure Lena wouldn’t know about that because her elaborate hoax came from “a place of ignorance” and she “lacked awareness.” Sure.

      • girl_ninja says:

        Yup. I remember that entire incident and was revolted. She really thought this black man should be grateful that a rich white famous person wanted him to bang her. Trash can.

      • elle says:

        WHAT? Holy hell, I missed that mess. Speechless.

  13. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Kaiser’s doing the lord’s work. I always appreciate you taking one for the team and giving us the gist. She’s terrible.

  14. Chlo says:

    I have never heard of a hairless pug.

    • Chaine says:

      It probably lost all its hair from the stress of living with Lena Dunham.

    • Kitten says:

      I googled it and all I could find is Mexican Hairless DOG which looks a bit like a Basenji without fur–nothing that looked like a pug.

      Must be a new, expensive and very rare breed,

  15. Jessica says:

    As others pointed out- she’s 35. I’m 35. The internet wasn’t “just becoming a thing” when she was in her 20’s. I’ve had the internet since I was in 7th grade. By my 20’s, it was literally everywhere. I know for a FACT that I had a much more sheltered and homogenous childhood than she did, and yet, I’ve managed to not be casually racist and awful. What a crock of sh*t she’s peddling.

  16. Scarlett says:

    She is a leech, sucks the energy and positivity out of a situation through her words and actions. Typical narcissistic behavior. A “I, me, myself” specialist. Of course she likes AJLT, water tends to find it’s own level….I said what I said.

  17. Mia4s says:

    “ “self-imposed exile” in the UK”

    OK most of this interview was just a giant energy-suck as you say. But the article referring to this as exile, true or not, makes me laugh.

    Sooooo she ran away to the isolated, paparazzi-free, faaar from the entertainment industry, just got the Internet, horse and buggy backwater of….*checks notes*….London England. 😐

    I….never mind, I’m just going to continue being done with her.

  18. Christina says:

    The main thing that counteracts racism is exposure to people of other races. If you are lucky you live in a diverse society from the start so you learn early. If you work in a diverse workplace that can be the way to get the exposure you need.

    I don’t think she has ever put herself in a position to get the exposure to people that are not white that she would need to counteract her internalized biases. However, having the self and social awareness not to say and do racist things does not actually require you to have overcome your internalized racism.

    I really think the “I was young” excuse expires at 25.

    • Debbie says:

      I suspect that depends on what one does at 25, since people are old enough to cross the street, graduate from school, get a job, cast a vote, go to war, get married, and so on.

  19. Chaine says:

    Energy vampire is a perfect description. That’s the only screen time where I want to see her in the future—a bit part on What We Do in the Shadows, and hopefully her role ends with Guillermo killing her character in a particularly brutal manner.

    • Roo says:

      @Chaine, I’m a bit embarrassed about how much I love your idea! 😂

    • HBIC says:

      People wouldn’t call me racist if they knew how much I want to F Drake?
      News flash you can still be racist and sleep with a black person. Huge eye roll. Yes, she is an energy vampire! Ugh!

      • Debbie says:

        Yeah, I caught that line about Drake too. It’s sort of like saying “I can’t be racist, some of my best friends are Black.” Only, I suspect Lena couldn’t quite name a Black friend, so poor Drake had to get dragged in to give her cover. She never quits. Just a dreadful person.

  20. phaedra7 says:

    Is she saying this due to her popularity quotient decreasing? Along with the tide towards diversity, she is suddenly becoming “woke” and always on the heels of any media work resembling SATC (her character in “Girls” was supposedly the next Carrie Bradshaw; she in reality modeled herself after S.J.P., anyways). #UGHAF! 😒😫

  21. rawiya says:

    How very Mark Wahlberg of her.

  22. tamsin says:

    Did Malia Obama do an internship on Lena Dunham’s show during her gap year?

    • whatWHAT? says:

      no, but she did intern on that set. in her gap year she worked for Weinstein’s (BARF) production company.

      was this asked out of curiosity or do you have some agenda by asking? because it’s easily google-able information.

  23. Tee says:

    So she’s still living in the echo chamber of her own a**. Excuses, excuses; she’s still riding the wave of privilege given to white women without qualification. Let all of her crap have been done by a person of color. Wouldn’t be a TEXT, let alone an interview coming their way. I got to “sexual fable” and clocked out. I refuse to waste my energy with her.

    Oh, and she makes horrible fashion choices. Just because she’s comfortable in it doesn’t make it good.

    • Tessa says:

      I know a TON of very qualified white women who struggled with careers and weren’t given 1/10000th of the opportunity that Lena had. You don’t think this has more to do with wealth and status than with skin color? You can’t think of any Black women who benefited immensely and got amazing opportunities because their Moms or Dads were famous and/or rich? Cause I sure can. Bashing all white women on the basis of Lena is a strange move.

      • Tee says:

        Are we talking about regular women? We are not. Did I type “all white women”? Did I type “Black women”?? I did not. Do you really think a Black, Asian, Latino or Indigenous female entertainer would still be getting interviews if they did what Lena did to OBJ, if they wrote a book proudly detailing how they were exploring their younger sibling’s genitalia as a child?? Yes, it has to do with wealth and status, but being white also greases the wheels. Why else is Mel Gibson still getting work? James Franco has recently been interviewed. Louis CK is booking shows again. Amy Klobuchar is still a sitting Senator.

      • ElsaBug says:

        Fellow white women, can we just not with the whole “it’s not racism, it’s a wealth/class/status issue” and “not all white women”? There are lots of different kinds of privilege, but the fact is that wealth is larger generational – and whites overwhelmingly hold the majority of wealth in this country. Black people have had their property appraised less than white people for the same, exact property. Saying “not all white women” or pointing to the wealthy Black people you know, is adding zero to this discussion.

      • Tee says:

        @ ElsaBug Thank you for this. It’s exhausting to attempt to discuss the systemic inequalities BIPOC face just to get “not all white people’d”.

      • girl_ninja says:

        Ah yes. Another “Not all White Women” excuse maker.

  24. SophieJara says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to even read the pull quotes, but the title is *chefs kiss*. I laughed out loud. Also, idc how sheltered you are, NYC is only 1/3 non-Hispanic (/Latinx/) white. If all your friends are white you and your parents are actively running away from not-white people.

  25. Bettyrose says:

    Guys. She’s just a simple girl from Manhattan, Kans … checks notes … New York who didn’t encounter diversity in her humble town or have exposure to new ideas at her underfunded publ … checks notes … prep school.

  26. Sof says:

    Her apology was kind of ok, a bit weak, until she brought up apologizing for breathing. Please.

    It’s true that people shouldn’t have commented on her appearance at all, but she is using this as an excuse not to talk about the valid criticism she received. Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t she have to “leave on self imposed exile” after admitting to having abused a minor?

  27. BothSidesNow says:

    She needs to learn to STFU and go away!! Lena hasn’t learned anything which is apparent in this interview. Lena is no more wiser or accepting her racist remarks comments. She is a mental drain and should be canceled. As for AJLT, of course she is watching that peddling dribble that no one wanted OR asked for! It was SJP that needed the puffing up of her resume and money, her primary reason. I watched 2 episodes and I was done. I am done with Lena as well, and the rest of the public should be too.

  28. Debbie says:

    What “apology”? I was in my 30s? I “lacked awareness”? The internet was new (so my mistakes went viral fast)? But on the other hand, I have great sympathy for people who made mistakes (you know, like me). Wow.

  29. sweetpea says:

    I think Lena really blew it.. She is a narcissist and people got sick of her. Now the only time I read about her is when she is posting something about her health. Or her wedding. Or her health. Oy!
    Curious about what really went down with her and GIrls co-producer Jenni Konner.

  30. lucy2 says:

    I’d like to know who the Hollywood Reporter thinks wants this. Who wants to hear from her?

  31. XoXo says:

    Oh lord

  32. nicegirl says:

    Wait so she was in a Malibu mobile home park the entire time? This gal

  33. Mina_Esq says:

    Of course she is the type of person to hop on a plane and move half way across the world into a seniors community in APRIL 2020! A time when the pandemic was killing elderly people left and right. The world went into lockdown on March 15, so this was probably still during the initial 30-days-to-stop-the-spread when even Trump was taking covid seriously. We were probably seeing mass graves and bodies in refrigerator trucks in NYC when Lena thought it a good idea to ride her golf cart to a local market and breathe her virus onto her elderly neighbors. My gosh she is awful and self-important.

  34. Cortney says:

    It’s not her place to forgive herself for her racism. FOH.

  35. Driver8 says:

    She has SO MANY celeb followers on Instagram who like literally every one of her nauseating posts. Makes me wonder if they’re all like her, just smart enough to keep their mouths shut.

  36. MissKitten(is my cats name) says:

    I simply CANNOT understand how or why Dunham continues to enjoy the profile she has, gets all the interviews she gets, not to mention ALL the opportunities constantly coming her way. The ONLY good thing she did was Tiny Furniture and that was like 15 years ago. Girls SUCKED. Then she did a camping show? Or something? Well whatever it SUCKED too. I have no idea why Tarantino cast her in OUATIH because she brought NOTHING to the movie. But, like many people (although apparently not enough since she stills gets interviews and stuff) I wrote her off FOR GOOD when she publicly defended a rapist, publicly disparaged the victim, and claimed to know “for a fact” what happened between the two. IM SORRY LENA WERE YOU THERE?????
    ALL of that being said, I’m not sure if I agree that she molested her sister. Was she even old enough to understand boundaries about one’s body? Very young children are curious, and I have trouble with the notion that she KNEW what she was doing was wrong.

    • bettyrose says:

      I don’t like her so I’m never interested in jumping in to discuss the nuances of her molestation incident. Yes, she was a kid. Yes, grown men get away with far worse. But the point is that her sister asked, perhaps begged, Lena not to write about it. It was her sister’s story to tell or not tell, but Lena as an adult didn’t respect her sister’s boundaries.

  37. KFG says:

    Typical, entitled, mediocre yt woman. Oh my racism was just bc I was unaware…. she’s garbage and talentless. Name a POC actress who could act like she does and get jobs?

  38. NoraMom says:

    Usual CB avid reader and appreciate the opinions. THANK GOD I HAVE YOU ALL TO SHARE SOME REAL TALK about Lena.

    you guys got me today, after maybe 4 years.
    Love and Peace to All for this year ❤️

  39. Deering24 says:

    Why does she still have a career? Has she done anything noteworthy since Girls?

  40. Lucille says:

    I don’t get the vibe in these comments. She reflected on her behavior and knows it was wrong. And forgiving yourself is a part of therapy to become a better person. But if you don’t want people to reflect on their behavior and do better, what do you actually want? You’d prefer that they don’t?

    • Merricat says:

      If there was any evidence that she had actually reflected for more than 10 seconds and GREW from that and actually did better, that would be great. But her attitude and self-awareness have remained the same: self-reverential and self-obsessed. We’re not buying what she’s selling.

  41. Merricat says:

    Lena Dunham is the epitome of the stacked deck.

  42. Grace says:

    Could someone please help me understand? I don’t want to be polemic and I don’t speak english that well, but If you understand that in the past you’ve been wrong, totally wrong, what should you say? I don’t like her that much, I don’t know If she’s sincere, but she said that she was wrong.
    I grew up surronded and was friend with people who used to say horrible things. Sometimes I’ve said that too. Yes, if you are in your 20’ you are a grown up but it could take time to realize things. I know it took me long and I feel so stupid when I think about it, I’ve said it, it’s been my my fault, I can’t go back in time and when I talk about it I find other people to be pretty understanding, but sometimes here I don’t get what it takes to be forgiven. If you’ve been wrong are you branded forever? There’s no chance of redemption?

  43. SilentStar says:

    @GRACE, yes, I think you’re absolutely right. We have to be able to forgive when people have truly seen the error of their ways.

    I think the problem with Lena is that she is saying a lot of words but still hasn’t shown real growth in her actions. In fact, her “apologetic” words continue to show that she’s being disingenuous –eg: “I was young” (she was not), “I was in London” (she was not). When someone has shown real awareness and humility, then we can forgive.

    As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.