The comedian behind the YouTube hit ‘Lena Dunham’s Audition for “Zero Dark Thirty,”’ tells us about the spoof’s inception, nudity, and more!
“It’s always fun to parody the stuff you admire,” Davison told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
Davison, like Dunham’s Hannah on HBO’s Girls, lives in New York City and admits to being a big fan of both Zero Dark Thirty and Girls. Davison was rehearsing for an improv comedy set at the PIT (The People’s Improv Theater) in New York when the idea for the parody came to her.
“[Dunham] has such a unique voice, both in how she speaks and in the things she says,” Davison said. “Because the character makes everything about her, I knew I wanted to find a very serious, totally inappropriate setting in which to put her. It really magnifies those traits when you see it against something so different.” And Zero Dark Thirty made for the perfect backdrop.
When I was 10 years old, some moms in my fifth grade class organized an end of the year pool party for our entire grade. It was one of the first times I can recall being sent into a tailspin of anxiety for weeks, because it meant I had to wear a bathing suit in front of my classmates. After many sleepless nights agonizing and envisioning endless mocking and scrutiny, I opted for a giant t-shirt and jumped in the pool fully clothed. Looking at photos of myself at that age now, I can’t imagine what I was thinking. I was completely average sized (though tall and developing). And yet I was putting myself through an incredible amount of body shame, while only a child.
I thought about this pool party this week when discussing Sunday night’s episode of Girls with various women on Twitter and during the daily web chat I host for VH1. Something very obvious hit me, and I haven’t been able to shake it: Lena Dunham is really the first woman I’ve ever seen on-screen who looks like me. But not only that - she’s comfortable in her skin, in her nakedness, in her sexuality, and as herself.
Of course she doesn’t exactly look like me. I am tall, she seems short. She has smaller breasts, I’ve had the same saggy size-C mom boobs since I was 14. But her thighs touch together when she stands, her shape moves, her arms aren’t skeletal, and sometimes her clothes don’t fit “right.” (See: the endless comments about the jumper she wore in ‘One Man’s Trash.’) But even in her own form, I still see myself. I see my thighs that touch when I stand, I see the round yet flat shape of my ass that moves when I do, I see my own non-skeletal arms. And every time Hannah/Lena takes off her clothes, every time she establishes that she is, for the most part, comfortable in her body, it gives me a little bit of hope for myself.
Because I am thirty-three years old, and I am still not comfortable in my own body. I haven’t been since I was eight and I sprouted breasts before everybody else, and would change into my bathing suit in the bathroom stalls at camp, certain that everyone would be horrified by what they saw. I wasn’t when I was twelve and towered over boys, slouching to bring myself down in inches. Nor was I at nineteen, skinny-dipping in the waters off of Long Island with my closest college friends. Even though I was drunk and stoned the shame was still able to find a way in, and I hid my body with my hands as everyone ran laughing into the ocean in the middle of the night.
I was not comfortable in my body in my twenties, when a male improv student of mine came to see me perform at the UCB Theatre and then said I slouched too much and needed to work on my stage presence because I was setting a bad example for my students. I wasn’t when I would start dating people and upon waking up next to them in the morning, would scurry off to the bathroom with my breasts in my hands because I was embarrassed about their size. I wasn’t when I dealt with the death of my mother by compulsively dieting and exercising, because it was the only way I could have control over my emotionally rudderless mess of a life. And I wasn’t after I gave birth to my daughter at thirty-one, and would drag my exhausted body to the basement of a temple to weigh in at Weight Watchers, desperate to return to someone I no longer would ever be.
The thing about self-inflicted body shame and self-loathing is that it seeps into other aspects of your life. It makes you feel unworthy in other situations; you give yourself less and less agency because really - why should you have any? It’s a cycle of worthlessness that weaves its way into social interactions, sexual relationships, and random moments of your life. It’s vicious and is something I am constantly aware of, something I constantly trying to improve upon and change in myself. And I’m confident from the many conversations I’ve had with other women that my experiences are hardly unusual.
So please, Lena Dunham, don’t listen to commentary on your shape and don’t stop being naked constantly on-screen. Don’t stop having lots of sex in Girls and please do ask another lover on the show to make you come first. That’s not being “ungenerous” (ugh Slate, your review in particular really sucked) it’s being an empowered and confident sexual being.
When people come down on Lena Dunham for these things, they’re coming down on all women. They’re reinforcing the negative criticism and commentary many of us already put upon ourselves.
And that…that is the real shame.
This is just the best. We signal boosted it here too (with Kate’s permission!).
We just re-watched season one of GIRLS and here you go—watch this and get all caught up for season two!
Then, our season two preview.
"Boys are not featured in packaging or promotional materials. And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink. I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work … I want my brother to know that it’s not ‘wrong’ for him to want to be a chef.”
File this trailer for Girls under things we can’t stop watching…
The Emmy-nominated Lena Dunham, in a Q&A with the New York Times.
A subject in ‘Sexy Baby’ on Lady Gaga’s positive messages being sold through sex. The film is an eye-opening documentary that explores the oversexualization of girls and women in the cyberage, premiering this week at the Tribeca Film Festival.
This is so much bullshit. I debated whether or not to reblog this, because I don’t really want to give it any more notes or attention. But I don’t think people understand what a hot load of misogyny this mock poster is blowing. There is no doubt that privilege gets us everything in life. But there is also no way that HBO is going to give someone a TV show based solely on who their parents are. The channel that does that is E!, ok? It makes me so angry that everyone wants to reduce the hard work and creativity and risks that went into this show to nepotism.
It’s very hard to get an opportunity to portray women as less than glamorous and sexy. It’s very hard to get an opportunity to show female friendships as revolving around more than just dicks. And it’s very hard to find a woman on television with a totally average body. And Girls has all three of these things and that makes me so excited. You know what? I am not a glamorous and sexy person. I spend more of my life fucking it up than I do getting it right. And I am an asshole. I am such an asshole. And it feels so good to see someone completely embrace that. Men have Louis CK and Larry David and I love those guys too, but Lena Dunham touches on a life that I actually live.
From a young age, girls are taught to relate to fictional characters. Girls will extract whatever tiny detail they can recognize from a character in order to sympathize and bond with them. This is how women watch tv and movies and read books. This is how we sit through movies like Wedding Crashers and actually laugh. Because no matter what, we will find that one human thing and cling to it. Let me tell you, it feels absolutely wonderful to not have to search to see something I can recognize. It’s bizarre and amazing to hear the exact words I’ve said before come out of a character’s mouth.
If you have chosen to dismiss this show outright based on the lives these women were born into, then your ignorance is showing.
Aaaaand that Nepotism/Girls poster gets the tumblr take-down.
First, Lord: No tattoos.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.
Honestly. It ain’t easy being a young lady today.