You remember, I’m sure, beloved reader, the punk-rock initialisms of the 1980s—back when the kids could name their bands with impunity, in decent obscurity, without being pilloried on cable news, devoured by the Internet, or investigated under the Patriot Act. MDC stood for Millions of Dead Cops, JFA was Jodie Foster’s Army (Jodie Foster being the celestial object to whom John Hinckley Jr. dedicated his attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan), and so on. COC, DRI, SNFU. O tempora! O mores! Anyway, if I was going to form a hardcore punk band today, right now, and give it a properly retro-radical, culturally polarizing, in-your-face-Mr.-Jones name, I’d call it LDA: Lena Dunham’s Armpit.
Does Dunham shave or doesn’t she? I should know. I’ve seen her naked enough times—having sex, maybe, or twanging into her tights for a night out, or slumped dewily over the side of a tub, her tattoos glistening. On her TV show, Girls, the fourth season of which will debut on HBO early next year, she gets naked all the time. A French woman I know told me that the nudity on Girls was nice, lovely, because it made viewers feel “intimate” with the characters. But she’s French, and this is America, and we’re much too fucked up for that. Dunham’s nudity rattles us. Her body, the shape of it, the constantly revealed fact of it, rattles us. Trolls and stand-ups make jokes about it. To say that it boldly flouts the norms of female desirability is merely to exchange one set of rubbishy preoccupations for another. Girls—which Dunham stars in, frequently writes, and sometimes directs—is the closest the sitcom format has yet come to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl: subterranean but rooftop-high, containing multitudes, a bohemian vision drifting in layers of anxiety between silhouetted-at-dawn New York water towers. Dunham has seen the best minds of her generation destroyed by Twitter.