Lena Dunham is naked, or partially naked, fairly frequently on “Girls.” (So is Jemima Kirke. Both Allison Williams and Zosia Mamet keep themselves more covered up.) Some of Lena’s nudity is during sex scenes, while a bunch of others are when her character is changing clothes, sitting on the toilet, or in the bath or shower. They are intended to be awkward, uncomfortable, or even humiliating. As is a fair amount of real-life nudity, frankly.
Yesterday, during a Television Critics Association Panel, The Wrap’s TV writer Tim Molloy asked Dunham why her character is naked so much on the show. The manner in which he “asked,” led to a curt response from Dunham, and a bit of a tongue lashing from producer Judd Apatow, who called Molloy “sexist,” “misogynistic” and “offensive.” Molloy then wrote an entire article complaining about the exchange.
Per Molloy’s transcription, this is what he said to Dunham during the panel:
“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.”
That’s not so much question as a statement filled with underlying judgments. He explicitly says Hannah Horvath’s nudity is “random” and “for no reason” and makes allusions to the more sexed-up nudity on “Game Of Thrones,” calling it “salacious” and “to titillate people.”
Sometimes reporters do ask questions which contain their own opinions or judgments. That’s part of the back-and-forth parrying within an inquisition. But this particular opinion or judgment is one that has implications about why Lena chooses to put her not conventionally attractive (but still hot) naked body onscreen in scenes that aren’t SEXY-SEXY-SEXY. The obvious statement there is that Hannah Horvath’s nudity isn’t titillating to him, which is an insult, and one Lena Dunham has undoubtedly fielded hundreds of times before.
So I completely understand Lena’s response to this reporter: “Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem.”
As he wrote on The Wrap, Tim Molloy’s reaction to this comment was Huh? — further not-really-getting it. And the rest of his piece goes on to recount how Judd Apatow stuck up for Lena (admittedly not very well — he suggested Tim talk with his girlfriend about why his question was rude). Executive producer Jenni Konner also told Tim Molloy after the panel she didn’t understand why he thought he could “talk to a women” that way. You can read The Wrap’s full post for the part where, after the panel, Judd Apatow confronts him directly and calls his question “sexist and offensive [and] misogynistic.”
It’s interesting for a reporter to get called out for sexism and recount it himself, word by word, while still refusing to admit there might have been anything wrong with what he said. He clearly just doesn’t get it, yet he’s trying to spin the piece, through the way he writes it, as Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham reacting craaaazy irrationally to his itty bitty widdle innocent question.
I’m not the hugest fan of “Girls.” I abandoned the show at first because I hated the characters, then binge-watched all the seasons over the holidays. I have come around to having enormous respect for Lena Dunham both as a creative person and as a young woman navigating the entertainment industry. She’s also a vocal feminist.
This writer at The Wrap made an ass of himself, but I feel for Lena a lot more. It must be fucking annoying to do great work and then have so many reporters just want to ask you about 15 seconds worth of your naked boobs.
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[Image via Getty]