Lena Dunham for Obama

Lena Dunham has an online ad out in suport of President Obama. Like an honest to goodness ad from the Obama campaign. It’s official. Lena Dunham is taking over the world.

But about this ad…I have questions.

Dunham’s kind of been a lightning rod ever since Girls debuted. I’ll admit she’s not my favorite media maker, for a lot of reasons – not just the seemingly endless race and privilege issues, but also the constant hype around her. I’ll also admit that I’ve only seen maybe 20 minutes of Girls and have little interest in seeing more.

From my perspective media coverage of Dunham reached saturation level months ago. This is probably a factor in why this ad isn’t working for me. But even if you set aside the controversy around her, I’m not sure how smart a move this was on the part of the Obama campaign.

On the one hand, tapping Dunham makes a lot of sense in an election cycle where tons of comedians and actors are using humor as a political tool. From Samuel L. Jackson’s “Wake the F**k Up!” to Rosie Perez’s mockery of Romney’s fantasies of an easy path to the White House if he were Latino, to our latest video in defense of reproductive health access, it’s clear that humor can get a political point across in way that encourages sharing and discussion, especially coming from personalities that audiences know and like.

So I get it – Lena Dunham is young, has tons of buzz right now, is funny, and draws in an audience. Bringing her on board is a smart move. But this is the ad they made with her? Really?

I mean, it’s sketchy and a little bit sexist to sexualize a young woman’s vote in any case. But it seems particularly ill-advised to do it with a young white woman encouraging people to vote for an older black man. We aren’t exactly past the time where white America sees black men as hypersexual predators out to corrupt white women. The whole stereotype of white women lusting for black men as dehumanized sex objects is still a thing.

Are those really the optics the Obama campaign meant to invoke? Especially two weeks before the election? Like I said, I have questions. This doesn’t seem like an effective use of Lena Dunham’s time or talents, or like an effective strategy for raising youth enthusiasm for the president.

Predictably, conservatives are losing their shit over the ad because OMG SEX (seriously, conservatives, relax. a mild double entendre isn’t really that scandalous). The conversation is more about the charged nature of the ad and (again, sigh) Lena Dunham’s penchant for controversy than it is about the campaign.

I don’t understand what the thought process was here. What do you think?


About tfc

T.F. Charlton is a Boston transplant, occasionally acerbic wordsmith, and Barnacle's social media manager. She blogs about fundamentalist race, gender, and sexuality issues at arewomenhuman.me and tweets too much at @graceishuman.

26. October 2012 by tfc
Categories: Humor, Our Work, Politics | Tags: , , , , , | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. I found your blog by way of the 47% video. Who is Lena Dunham? I’ve never heard of her.

  2. Thanks for a lucid presentation of the cloud of race/gender/class/privilege issues raised by Ms. Dunham’s clip. It’s unlikely to be helpful to Obama and just seems poorly done and cloyingly uncomfortable to watch – a bit like Girls itself, which I find to be inhabited by horrifyingly foolish characters entirely unrepresentative of 20 somethings, let alone 10 somethings. Your best line (which I second, though I confess to sampling across a few shows to validate my initial reading) is: “I’ll also admit that I’ve only seen maybe 20 minutes of Girls and have little interest in seeing more.”

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