The New Yorker Stoops

I’m a fan of The New Yorker, often despite its politics and its haughtiness (often hard to separate), because it values great writing. And I understand that the magazine business is rough these days and celebrity bylines goose both clicks and newsstand sales. But I find it inconceivable that The New Yorker would have run this piece if it didn’t have Lena Dunham or some other bold-face-name in the byline. Titled, “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend?” it’s a pop-quiz for the reader to guess whether she’s talking about her dog or, that’s right, her Jewish boyfriend.

The folks at Truth Revolt are in high dudgeon about its anti-Semitism. And it’s true that Jew/dog comparisons are often best avoided. I mean did she need to make jokes about how Jews and/or dogs don’t tip? Get it? Jews are famously cheap and dogs don’t use currency for goods and services! Ha! Also male Jews and/or dogs are hairy. Drop the mic on that one, girl. 

Still, I don’t think she was going for anti-Semitism, though she’ll happily pocket the edginess that accusation brings. Rather, like so much of what Dunham does, it reeks of self-indulgence. She clearly think it’s very clever. But as a piece of writing it’s remarkably un-clever. It’s not terrible. It’s more like a solid B in a college-writing seminar. And, I suppose it is a sharp way for her to do what she loves: over-share the various details of her life, most of which, like this piece, are incredibly boring if ascribed to a person you’re not fascinated by. 

But that’s just it. For some unfathomable reason, there are people who find Dunham fascinating. She clearly has a gift for convincing late-middle-aged white urban liberals that she’s on to something big and important. I’m just amazed she’s pulled off the con for this long. And I’m disappointed that even The New Yorker fell for it.

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