This was originally written over a year ago, but these comments by Lena Dunham are still making the rounds in women’s lit circles. I still think the thoughts her comments spurred, however, are still important to consider.
While listening to the Fresh Air Weekend podcast, Terry Gross introduces the topic of chick lit/chick flicks as a contrast to Lena Dunham‘s main character in ‘Girls’ and to the creator herself. Dunham, while allowing that she figured writers wouldn’t appreciate such a “distillation of their thesis” of their work, and catching herself before she lambasted all chick-flicks with a pink poster, said
“It isn’t even fun to me in a guilty pleasure way…because I don’t see any of myself in it, because none of my, just none of my actions…have ever sort of been motored by the search for a husband, or wondering if I was going to have a family some day, or wanting to live in a really great house, or thinking it would be really great to have a diamond. . .There’s a kind of female character that doesn’t make sense to me.”
–Lena Dunham, on Fresh Air, 5/7/12
Wow, really? I fully admit that I had a knee-jerk reaction that bordered on offended. But it only lasted a second or three before I started to wonder about my specific reaction and the larger concept of relating–to people and ideas. Specifically those of the happily-ever-after sort.
As a genre, chick lit doesn’t get a lot of love from a lot of critics. And, yet, I find it hard to believe the books would have done so well and that people would still buy and read them if there wasn’t something relatable about the characters. After all, I read them from time to time, even when I was in my never-gonna-get-married-again phase. A phase that began before my second marriage ended and lasted through the first couple of years of my relationship with Mr. Road Trip.
You know, the guy who gave me a ring and I’m happily marrying in
535 daysÂ less than 6 months?
So… yeah. About the “I don’t see any of myself in it,” I think that maybe she’s not trying. Because it’s not necessarily about the person or the object–the carrot and the end of the string–it’s about the journey, the impetus. It’s about the wanting, that search in general, and anyone who cannot relate on that level, I kinda feel sorry for.
Even in my anti-marriage frame of mind, I still believed that there’s something somewhat pure about the dream of happily ever after. It’s one of those ideals that never goes out of style–I mean, really, who doesn’t want to find their own happiness at some point? Do people really go around looking for ways to ensure they are miserable?
Armchair psychology about self-destructive behaviors and self-sabotage notwithstanding.
It’s not about liking everything. Opinions are awesome, everyone’s got ’em, and there are plenty of things I don’t necessarily like, entertainment-wise (from the clips I’ve heard from the interview, for instance, ‘Girls’ doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, and that’s okay–I’m sure the show will do just fine without me watching it). But I can at least step outside myself, my small pocket of the world, and appreciate the larger concepts and relate that way.
Try to see beyond the end of your nose.
This blocking out of a style or idea is common in everything–it’s the downside to the natural pigeon-holing we do as human beings–even wedding-planning. Sure, it’s fun to snarkily riff on Bridezillas or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but I hope each bride recognizes that what drives those brides and grooms to what we see as a tire-squeal around the bend is the same thing that makes us contemplate DIY wedding flowers, punch rounded corners into every piece of wedding stationery, or the half-dozen other things we do in the name of bringing our idea and vision of our wedding day to life.
And here I am, come full circle. I went from the girl who dreamed about being married with all the trappings to a woman who wanted nothing to do with the institution ever again to the woman who’s happily engaged with her own, fledgling wedding blog. Pink background and all.
If you’re a regular reader of wedding blogs, chances are good you have no problem with the “search for the husband” idea. But if you ever did, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And if not: share you’re favorite chick-lit read–I’m always looking for new books to add to my list!