I experienced a lot of emotions last week. And I don’t really like those things.
Most of these emotions came from the Lisa Lampanelli n-word saga, a lot of which played out right here on xoJane. Lisa and her use of the word irritated me. Not angered, just irritated, mostly because I’m familiar with her and her style of “humor. So I don’t expect much from Lampanelli. In fact, shit like that is pretty much all I expect from Lampanelli.
I didn't get angry until I read Lisa’s explanation of why she used the word. It’s one thing to say it, but giving the world some intelligent, insulting, bullshit reason for why you did is another thing entirely.
And then there was the hurt. There was hurt because that abysmal explanation that infuriated me came from right here at xoJane. This is a community of positive, progressive, forward-thinking women and men. It’s one that I value greatly. How can the sanctified and safe space where I have been so vulnerable about the most intimate details of my life provide a platform for such trash?
So, I took all those pesky emotions and I did what I do: I wrote.
Many people, both African American and otherwise, said the pieces I wrote last week spoke to them and for them in a way they found too complex to articulate themselves. That's my ultimate goal as a writer and my most important responsibility. It’s the greatest compliment that any writer can receive.
My editors loved them, my colleagues and fellow writers loved them, and you guys, you fucking gorgeous and deliciously badass readers at xoJane loved them. (Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful compliments. I read every one. Glitter, kisses, and cupcakes to every last one of you.)
I felt honored to be a part of such a dynamic discussion, I felt supported, and most importantly, healed. Mission accomplished.
But there was one final piece of the puzzle that I was still undecided about. There was also Lena Dunham, the woman whom Lampanelli called her n-bomb, who had been completely silent about the whole damn thing.
I’m a fan of Lena and her show "Girls." I’ve been one from the start. And I’ve defended her against the critiques about the lack of the diversity on the show and about her general “overratedness.” Sure some of the criticism has substance, but you have to give the woman credit when credit is due. Landing a hit show on HBO, a seven-figure book deal, and a collection of Golden Globes at 26 years old makes her nothing short of fucking awesome.
But if she’s so great, why hasn’t she said anything about this mess? I thought.
Allow me to present the moving sidewalk analogy: Just picture a moving sidewalk like the kind at the airport. Racists (or sexists, or ageists. Just insert your favorite –ists) walk in the direction of the racism sidewalk. They participate enthusiastically.
Anti-racists walk against the racism sidewalk. They walk in the opposite direction. It’s difficult and awkward and they might not get very far, but they try.
And then there are the passive racists. They don’t do anything but stand there. Sure they don’t charge along with the sidewalk, but by standing still they end up in the same shitty place as the people who do.
And that’s where Lena was for me. Standing there, totally unmoving as she glided along on Lampanelli’s insensitive batshit-ass sidewalk. I just wasn’t expecting that.
I consider myself actively anti-racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., etc. When someone says something in my presence that is effectively “-ist” in anyway, they are immediately put in check. Shouldn’t Lena Dunham, who some consider the voice of a generation, assume the same responsibility?
I think so. It’s not that I think she was wrong, or at fault, or to blame about staying quiet about what Lampanelli said. She just wasn’t, ya know, rad.
So, I took to Twitter to express my opinion on the matter. In the same exact way I express my opinion on every other random topic in the universe:
And then this happened:
Wow. Lena Dunham spoke to me personally about this drama and I’ll get to see how the Ray and Shosh drama pans out this Sunday. What a fruitful afternoon. Now I can spend my Friday evening streaming "The Walking Dead" without any icky emotion interference. What a happy frigging ending.
Whoa. Easy there, tiger. Not so fast. Because a few hours later, this happened:
And that wasn’t all. There was also Yahoo!, the Hollywood Reporter, the Daily Mail, Jezebel and a host of others who felt the need to report on me and Dunham’s alleged “Twitterbeef.”
The end result was a complete invasion of my otherwise docile Twitter mentions. Most of the responses were positive, or at least respectfully disagreeable. The rest weren’t.
So it’s apparent that some people have some things confused. Allow me to make a few things clear:
1. I don’t condone the use of the n-word by rappers, Dave Chappelle, or African Americans in general. I hate the n word no matter who says it or how they say it. In fact, the original title for my Lampanelli piece was “The N Word Is Despicable. Period.” Comprende?
2. I didn’t do any of this to “attack” Lena or to gain publicity. I didn’t think Lena would respond to me about this anymore than I thought Beyonce would respond to me about my comments on her documentary. So I damn sure didn’t think my name would end up in the Hollywood Reporter over it. And this misconception hurts. I can get over being accused of being a nappy headed ho, but being accused of being an attention whore is taking it too damn far.
3. I am not a nappy headed ho. OK. I’m just not. I’m damn sure nappy headed, but I ain’t never been no ho. (And no, this is not me being critical of “hoes,” just stating that I’ve never self identified as one. Please don’t call me a slut shamer in the comments section over this. I will claw my own eyeballs out.)
Now, as for Dunham’s response, the reviews are mixed. Some people think she had an absolute obligation to say something and should have said much more than she did. They feel like she had a responsibility to speak out explicitly against Lisa Lampanelli and against the n-word itself.
Others feel Lena didn’t have to say a thing and that I’m a self righteous bully who shouldn’t be attacking people who’ve done nothing wrong.
But most people fall somewhere in the middle of the “she didn’t say enough” and “she shouldn’t have said anything at all” continuum.
And what do I think? Well, I’m just satisfied that she said something. But mostly, I don’t think anything, because I’m pretty tired.
So, can I please go watch zombies now?