WASHINGTON • In a recent edition of her newsletter Lenny, Girls star Lena Dunham wrote about how when she started working in Hollywood at age 26, she grew increasingly scared of speaking her mind, knowing she would not only receive some thoughtful comments, but also be vilified by the Internet.
"I was frozen with fear of offending people whose opinions I trusted and anger at being harassed by f***sticks," she wrote. "And I wasn't sure how I could continue to persist as a public voice when the voice in my head was so addled."
While she has learnt how to navigate that balance, she has just spoken out about a very controversial topic that is sure to elicit a reaction. In a Facebook post on Monday, the actress wrote a long entry about how deeply uncomfortable she is with Kanye West's new video for his song Famous, which features images of naked celebrities all sleeping together on a bed, twisted in sheets.
The song attracted controversy as soon as it was released earlier this year, because it features a line about West's long-time nemesis/ sometime pal Taylor Swift: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that b**** famous."
This has been the source of much fighting between the West and Swift camps: West and his wife Kim Kardashian insist that Swift knew about the line in advance, thought it was funny and gave her blessing. Swift's representative has denied this, saying she would never have approved such a misogynistic line.
I don't have a hip, cool reaction because seeing a woman I love like Taylor Swift, women I admire like Rihanna or Anna, reduced to a pair of waxy breasts made by some special-effects guy in the Valley, it makes me feel sad and unsafe.
GIRLS STAR LENA DUNHAM
Continuing West's apparent Swift fixation, the pop star is featured as one of the nude stars in the video; the whole thing is an homage to painter Vincent Desiderio's Sleep. The video also shows naked images of stars such as West, Kardashian, Amber Rose, Anna Wintour, Chris Brown, Caitlyn Jenner, Ray J, Rihanna, Bill Cosby and Donald Trump.
Back to Dunham: The actress, one of Swift's close friends, specifically takes issue with the "unconscious, waxy bodies of famous women" portrayed in the video, which she calls "one of the more disturbing 'artistic' efforts in recent memory".
Dunham admits that she is wrestling with her thoughts, given that she is a fan of the Kardashian family, particularly for its depiction of "women as better in numbers and masters of their own destiny". She also adds that she grew up with artist parents who painted sexual scenes.
"I know that art's job is to make us think in ways that aren't always tidy or comfortable," she wrote. "But this feels different.
"At the same time Brock Turner is getting off with a light tap for raping an unconscious woman and photographing her breasts for a group chat... As assaults are Periscoped across the Web and girls commit suicide after being exposed in ways they never imagined... While Bill Cosby's crimes are still being uncovered and understood not only as traumas for the women he assaulted, but also massive bruises to our national consciousness...
"Now I have to see the prone, unconscious, waxy bodies of famous women, twisted like they have been drugged and chucked aside at a rager?" she wrote. "It gives me such a sickening sense of dis-ease."
Dunham adds that she is sure there is a deeper meaning behind the Cosby and Trump images and that there is probably a hip, cool reaction she should have. But she does not. "I don't have a hip, cool reaction because seeing a woman I love like Taylor Swift, women I admire like Rihanna or Anna, reduced to a pair of waxy breasts made by some special-effects guy in the Valley, it makes me feel sad and unsafe and worried for the teenage girls who watch this and may not understand that grainy roving camera as the stuff of snuff films," she wrote.
In an interview with Vanity Fair after the video's premiere in Los Angeles last week, West declined to get into specifics about the Swift image.
"It's not in support or anti any of" the people in the video, he said when asked about the inclusion of Cosby. "It's a comment on fame."
As she concluded her post, Dunham reiterated that West should say whatever he pleases, even though she cannot watch this video: "Here's the thing, Kanye: you're cool. Make a statement on fame and privacy and the Illuminati or whatever is on your mind!" she wrote.
"But I can't watch it, don't want to watch it, if it feels informed and inspired by the aspects of our culture that make women feel unsafe even in their own beds, in their own bodies."