Lena Dunham’s lawyer asked Gawker to remove the proposal for her book of advice and memoirs that the site published last week and for which Random House paid $3.7 million. In response, Gawker removed the proposal but kept up a handful of out-of-context quotes, adding a couple of lines of analysis to each. The commentary is, to a certain extent, a joke about the fair use exception, which allows you to violate something’s copyright as long as you are commenting or criticizing the material. That’s something Gawker’s Lena Dunham beat reporter John Cook had heretofore declined to undertake sincerely. Here's what Dunham’s No. 1 critic/gadfly finds objectionable in her proposed memoir–advice book.
"Nauseating and cloying precociousness ... permeates the entire proposal." Complaints specific to Dunham as a person include her “narcissism,” her "navel-gazing bubble of privilege," her “self-dramatizing” (how else to write a memoir, one wonders), her “obvious” “desire for an attention-grabbing condition” (by which he means anorexia), her “desperation” “to have the minutiae of her life — and her dietary choices — validated by cultural arbiters."
This one is my favorite:
Dunham’s out-of-context sentence: I’ve never kept a diary, [because] if a girl writes in her diary and no one’s there to read it did she really write it at all?
Gawker's commentary: Dunham is incapable of conceiving a rationale for writing that doesn't serve the goal of drawing attention to herself.
The notion that writing for public consumption constitutes “drawing attention to herself” (while we bloggers, what, cure leukemia?) reminds me of this exchange that occurred at the end of last month’s New Yorker fiction podcast. David Sedaris read a short story by Miranda July, “Roy Spivey,” and afterwards, Deborah Treisman asked Sedaris why he thinks July is so divisive. People are either rabid for her work or they can’t stomach her quirky tweeness.
“I think that people who don’t like her are just jealous,” Sedaris replied. “She’s so talented.” He added that, “as the last person on Earth to get the Internet,” he’s often surprised when he reads a story online and then sees nasty comments.
Sedaris: I think really? You really feel that strongly about that person? I feel like women get it more than men. You know, it’s sort of like Lena Dunham. Like, really? What is your problem?
Treisman: I think it’s interesting you made the parallel with Lena Dunham. There is a certain amount of just hostility that gets shot at a woman who makes herself central to her work. I think what they share is a certain refusal to be embarrassed about who they are. People like women in the spotlight either to be perfect or to be embarrassed not to be perfect…
Sedaris: The not-caring seems to irritate people more. But it’s like, “Didn’t you read how much I hate you?” No, I don’t read any of that stuff because I don’t care that you hate me. Maybe that just enrages people even more. They’d much rather read, that “after I read those comments I decided to stop making movies.”
I only disagree on that last point. Gawker and much of the culture-blogging ecosystem would be at a loss if we could no longer bash Lena Dunham's choices, luck, existence. (Ditto Lindsay Lohan's and Taylor Swift's.) Happily, as far as we know, Random House isn’t canceling Not That Kind of Girl on the basis of disapproving Gawker commenters and Girls' second season is still scheduled to come back January 13. As Dunham's mom Laurie Simmons told The New Yorker, “When her HBO show aired the blogosphere was full of mean criticisms — about racism, about white girls who were privileged. But she just continues to tell her story."
Most Viewed Stories
Why Millennial Pink Refuses to Go Away
Bobbi Brown on Why She Really Left Her Brand and Resisted Making a Contour Palette, and Her Next Moves
All the Things Women Are Doing Wrong
Ali Wong Loves Kondo-ing So Much, She Named Her Daughter After It
The Moment Khloé Asked the Cameras to Stop Filming
Ask a Boss: My Co-worker Talks Nonstop!
What We Lose When Sex Is All About Danger
Donald Trump Spoiled His Daughter-in-Law’s Pregnancy Announcement
What Exactly Is Going On With Donald and Melania’s Body Language?
What Is in Sean Spicer’s Teeth?
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.