Lena Dunham Apologizing For Her Halloween Costume Tweet Represents The Worst Part About Being Famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famousLena 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”:

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

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:

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

Lena Dunham Twitter apology Halloween costume tweet murderers Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak famous

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.”

[via BuzzFeed]

Photo: @lenadunham

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    • jamiepeck

      I thought it was funny. But I am throwing a whole party around the theme of “cults” so what do I know?

    • 1derer

      You’re right, it’s not the same thing, Dunham’s idea would be much worse. “A random Nazi” is a non-specific person, and last existed in formal form nearly 70 years ago. Bernardo and Homolka are specific people, directly responsible for the worst nightmares of the family members of the victims, and they killed just 20 years ago. That people got upset at the idea of wealthy celebrities parading around as killers in the public eye, which includes the eyes of the victims’ families, is completely justified.

      Dunham’s mea culpa was the right thing to do, and as someone with limited knowledge of her, her words seemed to indicate that she has the maturity and grace to recognize and accept responsibility for her mistakes.

      • nataliecrush

        You make a great point that Lena should’ve thought about the fact that the rape victims and their families are still alive and grieving.

    • http://twitter.com/elmcarthur Erica McArthur

      Her obliviousness is why this is so offensive. The Bernardo and Holmolka case is very much an open wound in Canada, especially since many felt that Holmolka got away with murder. The very movie she references (which was supposed to be cinematic release) caused a huge uproar, with many prominent people calling for a boycott. This is a good lesson in, don’t open your mouth if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • Nancy

      I thought it was funny. I’m Canadian. How many people dressed up as Casey Anthony last year? Same thing, isn’t it? @twitter-824197814:disqus if people really didn’t speak unless they know everything about the topic they’re about to speak about, the whole world would be mute, but I get your gist.

      • nataliecrush

        Agreed on getting Erica’s gist and Nancy’s point about how many of us are guilty of speaking without all the information/context.

    • martiney05

      That tweet was offensive and she deserved to get called out. How can people defend this?