Saturday, October 27, 2012

That Whole Lena Dunham Thing

Did y'all see that Lena Dunham commercial?  The one that playfully compares having sex for the first time to voting for the first time, in order to -- drum roll please -- get people's attention.

Before I comment in my usual rebel without a cause style about this commercial, I want to mention something.  I just read that Ms. Dunham got many hateful tweets from conservatives about this commercial.  Although, of course, she got many positive comments from liberal people.  Yeah.  Go figure.  Anyway, it is just plain wrong for conservative people -- who are supposedly Christian and believe in charity and believe in loving the sinner and all that -- to send this young woman hateful messages.  And if you are a conservative who does this kind of thing, I have some news for you.  You are basically helping Obama win the election because of your hypocrisy.

So, as for the commercial.  It has been said that this ad treats women as unintelligent.  That it is demeaning towards them.  That it is disgusting.  Someone even said that she can't believe the thing even exists.

Well, this is my take on it.

I think the ad is not meant to be a serious, logically reasoned argument for the positions of President Obama.  I believe it is intended as over-the-top humor, meant to grab the attention of a young person who is otherwise not paying attention.

Envision This:  Eighteen-year-old student studying in one of the common areas of any of a number of liberal (or fairly liberal) institutions of higher education.  There is a TV in the room.  The TV is on.  Said young woman is engrossed in her organic chemistry textbook.  Suddenly, she hears, "Your first time should be with..."  What does she do?  She looks up from the chem book and watches the rest of the commercial, which is encouraging her to vote in the next election.  For Obama, yes.  Because the person who made the commercial is campaigning for Obama, as is her right as a citizen of this country.

Now, if this hypothetical young college student is diligently studying her textbook and she happens to hear the following words emanating from the television -- "It is your right and duty to vote..." -- well, she will probably not look up from those engrossing diagrams of carbon-based compounds.   Because, after all, she has a test the next day.

Let's face it -- sex does get people's attention.  You may not like this, but it is true.

As for the political positions embraced by Lena's commercial.  They are the positions of President Obama and many of those who support him.  You may not like these positions, but you should not be angry that a commercial supporting the President supports these positions as positive things.  I mean, commercials for a candidate are going to portray his positions in a positive light.  This is to be expected.

So, as a Catholic, wife, mom, citizen, and person with a rather inappropriate sense of humor, this is how I am going to respond:

1.  I am going to appreciate Lena Dunham as the beautiful, clever, funny, talented young woman that she apparently is.
2.  I am not going to be offended by her, as I do not believe she intended to offend me.  And, even if she did intend to offend me, I am still not going to be offended.
3.  I am going to try to view the issues that she brings up -- women's rights, gay rights, foreign policy -- through her eyes before I respond.  Why?  Because in order to build up a fraternal society, in order to have fruitful discussion, we need to be willing to see things from different perspectives.  Even perspectives with which we do not agree.  If you want someone to consider your position, you have to be willing to consider theirs.  Otherwise, you are just going to have a nation that is full of people in trenches who are unwilling to talk to each other.
4.  I am going to discuss this ad and these positions with my husband, children, and any others who wish to have a calm, civilized exchange of ideas.  I am not interested in throwing grenades.  I am not interested in having a "culture war" with you.  One of the popes once said that war is not good for anybody -- even the victors.  I found this to be a fascinating statement.  And maybe it applies to culture "wars" even as it applies to conventional "wars." 

And as for those who cite this ad as evidence that the Obama campaign is dismissive of the intelligence of women, I would like to respond by saying that there are other ads and techniques being employed by the Obama campaign that are much more cerebral in nature.  For example, Ben McKenzie -- double major from University Of Virginia in Foreign Affairs and Economics, successful actor, speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, supporter of a couple of rockin' good charities -- has been out campaigning for Obama in places like Iowa and Wisconsin.  And he has been doing so in his characteristic intelligent and low-key manner. 

This whole thing kind of reminds me of the firestorm over Ronald Reagan's "It's Morning In America" commercial.  The one where he rode the horse around and told us all how great things were going to be again.  Many liberals became literally apoplectic over the whole thing -- saying it was dismissive of people's intelligence and demeaning to anyone with a sense of reality.  The shoe, as it seems, is now on the proverbial other foot.

Yes.  This is kind of a rant.  I will blame it on menopause.  Menopause is a convenient excuse for many things. ;)

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