The first time I saw the Lena Dunham video about her “first time,” I thought more about Lena than the ad. I thought LENA!!! What a smart cookie you are—what a brilliant move! The last time we saw you, you were sitting naked on a toilet eating a piece of cake! You are fabulous! And oh, so smart.
Then, I had a lot more to think about.
First of all, these anti-Obama ads are just bad, no matter which side you’re on. They’re simply weak; not one concrete point is made. They lack any specific detail about what Obama did or did not do, or what Romney will or will not do. Something about the women, the sets, and even the furnishings make them look odd, cheaply produced. My friend Marci Orr, a public relations consultant, said the ads look like old textbooks from the ’50s and ’60s; something’s just “off.” My film-major daughter said they simply look cheesy.
The dialogue is forced, artificial and absolutely vacuous. I’m pretty confident that even if I supported Romney, I would be insulted at how vapid these women, all women, are made to appear. I don’t know anyone who talks like these women, and, um, I wouldn’t want to.
I don’t think it’s a smart move, on the part of the conservative right, to let the premise of the “boyfriend” ride through these spots. It’s an insult to women, implying that the bad boyfriend analogy is the only way our feeble female minds can comprehend this political choice. If they revealed the artifice, they could talk about real issues, like Dunham’s video does. She mentions specific issues, like health care and getting the troops out of Iraq.
Dunham’s video sparked outrage, with the main complaint being that it hypersexualizes women and pigeonholes women into caring only about women’s issues. I didn’t realize that health care and American troops in Iraq, two specific ideas she brings up, were women-only concerns (not that birth control or equal pay should be considered women’s issues, but that’s another conversation).
Oh, if I could only talk to some of these outraged people. Ben Shapiro at Breitbart called the Dunham video “astoundingly tasteless.” I’d love to hear how he could defend the endings of each of the 30-second anti-Obama spots: the tooth-glinting Romney or, much worse, the parody of Obama as the persona in Munch’s “The Scream” and worst of all, the grotesquely altered “winking Obama.” I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing, those “special effects” so ridiculous in both idea and execution. And Erick Erickson says the Dunham video “cheapened the presidency”?
The anti-Obama spots resort to childish mocking; they’re the equivalent of drawing a Sharpie mustache on an Obama poster. The ads are meant to appeal to undecided women, but I cannot see how these empty, dated parodies with ba-rump-bump endings can appeal to anyone other than the already converted.
The attacks against Dunham are just as ignorant as the pro-Romney ads. As far as the “sex” angle, it only takes 14 seconds before the ad’s no longer a virgin joke. Many of the offended, not surprisingly, attack Dunham personally—both her upbringing and her successful show, claiming that it is about promiscuous young girls, which only shows us that these accusers haven’t seen it (two of the four leading ladies are monogamous and one is a virgin).
The Dunham ad is simply smarter. Not only is Dunham a woman, she’s young, and her appeals will play to her intended audience, as will the reality show confessional style. She simply talks to the intended audience in a manner they understand—a basic communication skill taught to college freshman.
Both of my daughters will be voting for the first time this year. Lena Dunham is the creator, writer and star of her own HBO series, made an award-winning film that caught the attention of Judd Apatow, and is being published in little venues like the New Yorker. Bids on her first book started at one million dollars. She is 26. I’d rather my daughters listen to her and think about what she has to say than listen to women like the insipid characters in those awful 30-second spots. Just sayin’.