Jemal Countess/Getty Images
UPDATE: Lena responded to the backlash, moments after this piece was published. Her tweets are included down below.
Lena Dunham interviews Amy Schumer via Skype and their mutual admiration society of two turns into a veritable hipster-funny lovefest. Sounds like a crowd-pleaser, right?
Or fodder for an intense conversation about reverse-sexism, inherent racism and whether two incredibly popular feminist voices just set feminism back 50 years.
It's not surprising if the exchange, published Friday on Dunham's Lenny Letter, came off as smug to some. The Girls star's brand of hyper-self-aware comedy and commentary isn't for everyone, and has made her a polarizing figure—if not necessarily in the entertainment industry, where she's widely revered by peers as a bold risk-taker, but in the greater world where her approach isn't appreciated by as many people.
Schumer is a wildly popular comedian, one seemingly beloved by men as much as by women, but she too has her share of critics because...doesn't everybody.
And maybe, if you put them together, you get the kind of overwhelmingly honest conversation that's usually not meant for anyone else to hear. Or a chat embedded with so much irony and sardonic observation that no one who's just reading a transcript could possibly grasp the entirety of what they're saying if they can't hear the inflections.
We're going to guess that the actual interview, "condensed and edited" for the Lenny Letter, was a combination of both, two razor-sharp wits firing away, each bolstered by the other.
But let's start with the biggest bone that Twitter is picking with their chat.
Agreeing with Schumer about how miserable the 2016 Met Gala was for them, Dunham relayed how New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. was at her table, and he seemed "confused" by her.
"...It was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, 'That's a marshmallow. That's a child. That's a dog.' It wasn't mean—he just seemed confused.
"The vibe was very much like, 'Do I want to f--k it? Is it wearing a … yep, it's wearing a tuxedo. I'm going to go back to my cell phone,'" Dunham added, imagining the football star's reaction to her appearance.
Hmm. Well, first of all, Dunham has a serious boyfriend, so why she was bothering to read into Beckham Jr.'s vibe is anyone's guess.
Then again, she was probably just trying to be funny and appropriately self-deprecating for her and Schumer's why-do-we-get-it-but-no-one-else-does fest. Yet Twitter took a lot of offense to what came off to many as an incredibly self-absorbed misinterpretation of Beckham Jr.'s actions that in reality had nothing to do with her.
That, and her random remembrance of when she "attempted to grind [her] ass on Michael B. Jordan for an additional 20 minutes" before hightailing it out of there, and you've got yourself a very annoyed twitterverse.
A lot of what's being tweeted seems to be your generic brand of haterade, people who didn't care for Dunham before continuing not to care for her now.
But she is also being accused of being downright ignorant for projecting archaically base thoughts onto Beckham Jr.—and of being a hypocrite, because she's complaining about a guy not paying sexually motivated attention to her when she's usually all about feminism (and apparently the two cannot mix).
Again, we're going to guess that Dunham was just trying to be funny, but to those left shaking their heads, her anecdote was a glaring example of decidedly un-self-aware self-absorption with, in the harshest interpretations, racist undertones.
So the wonky juxtaposition of Dunham's empowerment shtick with her being miffed by a perceived slight fell flat.
Then, as Jezebel was first to call out, there was Schumer's lament that she was compelled to speak up to distance herself from a mess that Inside Amy Schumer writer Kurt Metzger got himself into on Facebook recently when he took it upon himself to call out women who anonymously accused a comedian of rape but hadn't reported him to police (let's say for now, whatever point Metzger was trying to make was lost on a one-way road to nowhere).
"I get it. I get it, and I wasn't even resentful of the connection," Schumer said, acknowledging that she understood why people were waiting for her reaction, she being the bigger celebrity of the two. But she added, "I was resentful of the lack of trust. Like, 'Have I earned any good will with you guys? Do you believe that I feel that rape victims should be shamed on the internet?' Have I built up any sort of good will?"
Was that really a lack of trust in Schumer's moral code? Or was it just your basic, "This guy sounds kinda familiar, but we know who he is at all because of Amy Schumer, so what does she have to say?" It's hard to believe anyone actually would've thought less of Schumer, unless she had wholeheartedly agreed with Metzger or otherwise gave what he wrote a thumbs-up.
Then Dunham offered, "The other thing that I get really crazy about is this new world in which women aren't just supposed to be protected from actions, they're supposed to be protected from language. Women are so strong. My ovary has basically exploded in my stomach twice, and I was pretty chill about it. You think I can't listen to some short comedy loser say something dumb about rape?"
Wait, what does that even mean? Is she saying that Schumer shouldn't have felt compelled to say something because it wasn't her job to reassure the outraged masses? Or it's too bad that society did compel Schumer to weigh in in the first place? Or that what Metzger said doesn't matter because women can handle it (which of course they can, but that's not the point)?
Overall, the lesson here may be that, when there's a meeting of two minds and the discussion is about how much the two of them understand each other's point of view and it's everyone else who's got the problem... Onlookers may be forgiven for not bothering to want to understand what they're talking about.
UPDATE: Lena Dunham's responses: