Lena Dunham is once again courting controversy, but unlike the other daring behavior we’ve seen from the 26-year-old writer/actress, a) it isn’t about her TV show Girls and b) she didn’t intend to offend. In fact, I didn’t even hear about this story until after she had apologized.
A few days ago, Lena joked on Twitter with Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak about what their Halloween costumes should be. It being Halloween, I’m not surprised that gallows humor figured in. Or that Lena countered their joke with a morbid one of her own. After Mindy suggested that they go as the Memphis Three, Lena suggested they be “the Ken and Barbie killers”:
After backlash from Canadian followers about how glib they were being, Lena launched into a lengthy Twitter apology. Not quite as extensive as Nick Zylka‘s mea culpa after badmouthing his ex Lucy Hale, but still equivalent to a couple Hail Marys:
While Lena’s joke was in poor taste, I’m not sure it required such a profuse apology. I’ve read up on Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, who sound twisted as fuck: They’re responsible for a series of rapes — some of which became murders — in Canada in the 1990s. The incident that Lena is referring to was their first murder, where they drugged and raped Karla’s little sister Tammy Homolka, who suffocated on her own vomit.
To pitch this as your costume is the darkest of humor. But it was also a joke made out of obliviousness, not cruelty. The Toronto Star quoted Canadian lawyer Tim Danson, who compared the tweet to Prince Harry dressing up as a Nazi for Halloween in 2005. But it’s not the same thing! In fact, we think the whole situation got blown out of proportion in part due to Lena’s fame from Girls. With the show receiving its own criticisms for not showing enough people of color, folks are looking so hard to find her white privilege. Really, she’s just a 26-year-old who misspoke. But because she has 388,000 followers, her misstep gets publicized across the internet.
Neither Mindy nor B.J. felt the need to apologize, and if anything, there were several people who responded to Mindy’s original tweet with a healthy sense of humor. One told Lena she should go for a This Is Spinal Tap character instead, while another tweeter wrote, “me and [my friend] legit pulled off this costume last halloween. it could have went over better.”