Miranda and Lena: A Survey
I remember being 23 and in New York. I was in the bed of a girl I liked. Her ceilings were tall and the room narrow. It was quiet and I was in that horrible situation of fitting into the space of someone I wasn't. Or at least someone who I wasn't yet. The girl pushed a DVD into the side of her small white laptop. The movie started and at times she smiled brightly and at others, she laughed. I tried to make that enough. At that point though, it wasn't.
Lena Dunham's new book Not that Kind of Girl is out. To both rave reviews and lengthy criticisms. Both are connected to Lena Dunham's person and persona. It's impossible to divorce her from her book-primarily because the book itself is creative non-fiction which is understood as coming from her personal voice but also because her celebrity will forever outshine her catalogue of work. And unfortunately that has to be okay because this is the state of our world. But still though, it's important to remember the value of the work. To really appreciate it because of what it is and who she is telling it. And finally, because being creative, in any way shape or form, isn't as easy as we so easily discredit it as being.
The movie that we watched that night was Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July. At that point in my life, I wasn't yet my highly evolved liberal arts degree holstering brooklyn gentrifying self. I was Remoy. A sweet Christian boy from Texas with a somewhat open mind but a guarded heart who was about to go through a five year renaissance that would forever change his life trajectory in a way he could never have imagined. So we watched this movie, where the story is more or less linear and clear, making it normal(ish), but where the characters' actions just at times don't make sense, and honestly, were just odd and weird. After some time, after that girl with the narrow room and I fell in love, I came clean to her with my 'not getting' and really 'not liking' the movie. I think we laughed about it. At least for awhile.
Last year, Miranda July created and produced a very interesting project. She had collected certain individuals from varying fields and each week had given them a prompt for them to then mine their emails and find an email relating to the aforementioned prompt. One of these individuals was Hall of Famer and former NBA pro, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. And with he being on board, well then, so was I. So I subscribed to this project of voyeurism and vulnerability and every week I was given a glimpse into varying persons' of differing positions personal lives. Another one of these persons was Lena Dunham.
The first time I was introduced to Lena Dunham was when Tiny Furniture made its way onto Netflix. I had finally grown into my artistic independent pretentious all-things 'weird' appreciating non-Manhattan self. So when movies of that type of cloth made their way onto Netflix, I was quickly tuned in. But after 35 minutes of Lena's nasally voice and nauseating self-absorption, I couldn't take much more. So I turned it off and came to the conclusion that I wasn't truly evolved. Maybe.
But then soon after, Judd Apatow and HBO were onboard and Girls was being made. And when it premiered, it shocked. And as new episodes premiered, we were all hooked. Maybe for our own reasons. And with our own arguments, but still we were.
Around this time, a year or two after me and the girl with the narrow room were no longer together, I was feeling nostalgic and I rewatched Me and You and Everyone We Know. The funny thing was, this time, after time had passed, I enjoyed it. Maybe it was the nostalgia; the connection to a certain time and that connection to a definite person. Or maybe it was that something in me had changed and I had truly evolved and I finally was able to appreciate the movie. Whichever it was, I don't know, but I did like it. And then, I watched it again.
There then lies interesting parallels and contradictions between Lena Dunham and Miranda July. They aren't too far apart even though they are similar. Lena is popular, and Miranda is odd. Lena is honest, and Miranda is elusive. They are both fearlessly creative and they are both women. They are both interested in their work serving as narration to our current modern situation and all-the-while telling each their own specifically. And these two women are taking part in the longstanding human tradition of creativity while both being unbelievably vulnerable in the public sphere for both praise and criticizism. And all the while, the rest of us just watch.
These two artists (and I'm not being liberal with this term) are serving to shift the narration of our current history. Their current works are doing so. And the entirety of their corpuses will serve in part of defining who we were. That is exciting. To observe and to engage. To notice that our time is changing, and those who put themselves in the positions of being the burden-bearers of doing so are changing.
And it's time we notice.