Wednesday, October 1, 2014
What They Do When They Write
The Lena Dunham/Kevin Williamson "controversy" actually reveals what the right wing "press" is mostly about. Here's a very nice Fresh Air interview with Ms Dunham:
(click down to the Dunham interview; I could listen with no buffering, oh fraptious joy!).
Now you may or may not appreciate Ms Dunham's work, but there's no debate that she's a serious, thinking, creative writer and actor. This is why her show, Girls, is into it's fourth season on a network you have to pay to watch. Ms Dunham has no particularly ulterior motive in this interview. She's just talking to Terry Gross, who is asking interesting questions. Ms Dunham has observed life, and remains engaged. She is interested in showing us what being young and female in at least one particular strata of our contemporary culture is like, for particular people. She brings to my mind many of the films of Fassbinder, who was interested in the implications of being a woman (and a girl), who wanted to hold up different examples of what a woman's choices were, in a perspective where certain details, including details of power, were more obvious than in the "normal" every day world we're all living in and through. If you want an interesting comparison, watch a few episodes of Girls and then watch "Pioneers of Ingolstadt."
So, now consider the utterly obnoxious column produced by one Kevin Williamson, concerning Ms Dunham's small exhortation to women to vote. Here's a column by the Rude Pundit on Williamson's piece:
You want to see the absolute merging of fascism with the act of writing, here 'tis. Williamson is, in the writing, generating an act of fascism as perfectly realized as Mussolini's, oft quoted herein because it strikes me as so profound. A journalist asks Il Duce what he will do if he is elected. Mussolini replies, "why, kill you."
This is exactly what Williamson is doing, but you must look carefully to see the action, because it's subtle. On the surface, Williamson is just being shocking, taking an extreme tack to make his right-wing point. "Women who have abortions should be hung." Gasp! Most of the internet conversation has of course been about Williamson's article, and about what an ass he is. But no one (that I've run into) has noticed that Williamson is doing more than just writing. In the realm of politics--action--Williamson is threatening. He is working to utterly diminish Ms Dunham's efficacy in the world. Indeed, he is even working to diminish our accepted concept that, well at least we can vote in an election, we can make that little difference. Voting, he says, is the shallowest of political acts. (Or as George Bush put it, don't worry about Iraq, just keep shopping.)
In other words, Williamson is strking his small blow in the on-going Republican effort to suppress the vote this fall, and in subsequent elections going forward. He is doing this by telling people who might think to vote on the women's side of the political choices now confronting us all that their small effort--voting--is so pitiful as to be embarrassing. They might as well stay home and leave the process to the men. And of course this particularly applies to Ms Dunham, who Williamson asserts is only achieving any success due to the general debasement of our current culture. This is what he writes:
Our national commitment to permanent, asinine, incontinent juvenility, which results in, among other things, a million or so abortions a year, is not entirely unrelated to the cultural debasement that is the only possible explanation for the career of Lena Dunham.
Thus spake Zeus. About Mr. Williamson himself, we know nothing at all, aside from the fact that he is willing to write for the famously racist and sexist National Review, a publication founded by this rich, fascist asshole some 50 some years back.
It's all of a piece. The Republicans want to supress the vote because they know full well that they are likely to lose an election based on positions and ideas. War on women, what war on women? If you're listening to Lena Dunham, it's a mark of shame, i.e., you're part of the "general debasement."
Go back and listen to Ms Dunham's remarks on pornography, and on her own experiences of sex, and on the cultural issue of youthful sex. Republicans, from Romney to Brownback to Williamson, are all about supression. That's what they do. That is their agenda, and they aim to achieve it by any means necessary. Ms Dunham is a threat to the GOP because she doesn't suppress anything much.