It was a busy night yesterday for women in popular culture: there is definitely something interesting to say about the pairing of women and humour in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes, which I hope makes it to the feminist blogosphere before long (Any of you readers want to take a shot at it? Send me something and I’ll post it to 243 Conklin). Then there’s the two female stars who occupied much of the limelight at said awards show: Lena Dunham, whose Girls premiered its second season last night, and Jodie Foster’s ostensibly confusing–whether because of its content or delivery seems to be the debate in the social media sphere—pseudo-“coming-out”, pseudo-critique-of-celebrity-culture speech.
To recap and hopefully spark some discussion:
This piece captures well the problematic parameters of the interest, condescending humour, and critical obsession over the visibility of Lena Dunham’s naked body on Girls in the run-up to its second season premier.
In this case, we can’t stop talking about Dunham’s body explicitly because it is remarkable in its unremarkableness — Lena Dunham looks like what millions of women see in their mirrors every morning, women who see themselves and immediately catalog all the things they must “work on” in order to be passably acceptable enough to show their bodies, publicly or privately. By attacking Dunham, we are, to an extent, attacking ourselves.
And yes, after myself watching the premier last night, I am happy to confirm, without giving away any spoilers, that Dunham’s naked body was front and center more than once. It’s interesting to meditate on this piece’s invocation of Dunham’s “unremarkable” body. What, exactly, does “unremarkable” accomplish here? Is the aggregating logic of the statistical “normality” of a certain non-normative size of women’s bodies in America the best way to capture what is provocative about Dunham’s performance? There is also a lingering absence of whiteness in this conversation that would be interesting to mine further. The effects of capitalism, culture, labor and racism all shape–literally–the bodies of women.
Now, as for Jodie Foster…
I’ve been reading, mostly on Twitter, the back and forth arguments from a variety of people who feel that, variously, Foster’s speech was a lousy mess of a coming-out, that it was terrible but any coming-out is a “victory,” or that she was already out, making this poorly delivered speech irrelevant. I’m left wondering, though, if the larger lesson is not rather that coming-out is a somewhat out-of-date form of cultural-politics for mainstream celebrities? There’s an awkward speech and then there’s a controversial one, but I’m not sure this actually qualifies as all that interesting, politically.
Thoughts on any of this? Your contributions are invited and encouraged, as always.