If there’s one thing Lena Dunham cannot abide, it’s being labelled ‘quirky’. In a brilliant discussion with filmmaker and writer Miranda July (Lena this time doing the interviewing), the pair spoke candidly about everything from gauging what other people might find offensive to their bizarre sexual fantasies. Of course they did; it’s Lena Dunham here, not Parkinson. They also spoke of their dislike of the term ‘quirky’ when used to describe women’s creative work. Lena hates it so much, it sends raging hot lava through her core.
Lena Dunham: One of my biggest rages is when people use the word quirky around you and your work. It fills me with a hot lava of anger that’s impossible to describe. Something that’s interesting about this book [Miranda is currently promoting her new book The First Bad Man] and the violence and sexuality and the sort of barren hideousness of some of the characters in it felt almost like a revolt. There’s no way anyone could apply that word to anything surrounding this book. Even the cover is just, like, stark and black. And I wondered if that was about growing as an artist, if you felt like there was any conscious retaliation, or if you’re just so made of magic that you’re not internalizing any of it, or whether you don’t want to be friends anymore.
Miranda July: It’s funny because people are having no problem calling this book quirky, or annoying, the cousin of quirky … so that party just keeps on rolling on. Although I will say that I think that just culturally things have shifted a little bit. Like that’s a little bit of an old hack, lazy journalist thing to do, especially with a woman. So I think it’s not quite as drastic. But to be honest, I didn’t feel like this was a retaliation; I felt like I was just trying to write a good book and that all my work had darkness in it and humor, but certain things had been easy to latch on to. A lot of those things about my personhood, the very thing I was most uneasy about putting in my movies … But I think retaliation only gets you so far, and then you’re out in the desert alone and no one cares.
Do we need to ditch this word? And is there ever a place in which it accurately applies?