Lena Dunham’s backlash began almost before her fame started in earnest. Her success was the result of nepotism, people sniffed, even if those people couldn’t name her artist parents. Her TV show was entirely focused on the exploits of privileged, white, upper-class kids. She doesn’t deserve her $3.5. million book deal or spots on all those talk shows. But are folks really mad about Dunham’s work? Or are they mostly aggravated that she’s, well, young?
Gen Y workers are perhaps the unluckiest workers in all of recession-land. They’re famously under-employed, with as many as half of recent college grads reporting unemployment or under employment. They suffer from lack of opportunity, lack of jobs, and perhaps, lack of respect.
“Lena Dunham became eligible to vote in 2004, so you should listen to her,” wrote John Cook on Gawker. “TWITTER TWITTER FACEBOOK INTERNET IPHONE TEXTING.”
Amanda Hess at Slate quotes Cook, and then points out that we don’t direct similar amounts of vitriol at Gwyneth Paltrow, who got her first role in family friend Stephen Spielberg’s “Hook,” or Drew Barrymore, whose family connections in film go back before the advent of sound:
“We usually don’t knock down Hollywood royalty actresses — or their salaries — because we need that constantly refreshing stream of young women to fuel male screenwriters’ film fantasies. (Woody Allen keeps getting older, while the girls stay the same.) But an age-appropriate woman actually writing the lines and directing the scenes? Hasn’t earned it — you’ve got to be old to deserve to write about young people!”
The problem with Dunham, in other words, might just be that she’s a success. And in a time when many Gen Y-ers are struggling to get a foothold in their chosen fields, maybe we should think twice before knocking her just for doing well at a young age.
Other criticisms, of course, might still be valid. After all, the wages of fame are getting picked on, on the internet.
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