There’s a storytelling device in fiction writing known as “The Unreliable Narrator,” in which the story unfolds from the point of view of a character that may not be telling the truth. Authors use this as a way to create plot twists and keep their audience guessing–think Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects–or to generate a dreamlike atmosphere that blurs the line between reality and fantasy–kind of like Edward Norton imagining most of the events and people in Fight Club. Conversely, in the hands of a hack, the Unreliable Narrator can also he used as a cheap way to paper over continuity goofs and bad ideas–such when Patrick Duffy decided he wanted to come back to Dallas after Bobby Ewing got killed off, and so the writers cast off the entirety of the previous season by making it all a bad dream in Victoria Principal’s head.
Say what you will about the practice, but that’s showbiz. There are, however, some people who use this device in real life, using it to ratchet up the drama and make themselves seem more interesting than they really are. Exhibit A: One Lena Dunham, the actress, writer and self-proclaimed voice of her Millennial generation. Mostly known for her HBO series Girls, she also made a splash with an autobiography (for which she was paid a hefty $3.5 million) in which she invented from whole cloth a College Republican named “Barry” who supposedly raped her while she was at Oberlin, and also confessed to sexually abusing her own little sister. How much of that last disgusting part is true remains unknown, but the takeaway from all this is that Lena Dunham is quite the fabulist–the very embodiment of the Unreliable Narrator.
She also seems to be walking through her off-camera life as if it were one long movie–the kind that’s short on plot and fills the gaps with the kind of nudity that only John Waters would find palatable. Accordingly, if nothing has happened for Dunham lately, she creates some kind of mini-controversy-usually on Twitter–to liven up the proceedings and put her character front and center again. The other week, it was about abandoning her pet dog of four years amid her claims that the poor animal had been abused, a charge the shelter she adopted from vigorously denies. This week, though, things just got plain weird when Dunham complained about something she supposedly overheard at JFK International Airport:
Lena Dunham took to Twitter on Thursday to complain about two American Airlines employees she claimed to have overheard engaging in “transphobic talk” — but the airline has since stated that they are “unable to substantiate” Dunham’s version of events.
“We always look into complaints from customers, but at this time, we are unable to substantiate these allegations,” American Airlines tells Fox News.
Dunham first tweeted about the incident early on Thursday morning, while she said she was waiting for her delayed flight to depart from JFK International Airport in New York.
“Not gonna call out the airline who delayed cuz s[—] happens BUT I did just overhear 2 @AmericanAir attendants having a transphobic talk,” wrote the “Girls” creator at 2:51 a.m.
And just what was this “transphobic talk” of which she speaks?
Well this night just keeps evolving pic.twitter.com/gYfXadYBUH
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) August 3, 2017
Okay, let’s set aside for the moment the whole trans issue, and whether or not you think this kind of talk is out of bounds. Let’s also set aside the folly of American Airlines taking at face value the word of a known liar and drama queen, and assume that everything Dunham said is true. Doesn’t anybody else find it genuinely creepy that she would not only eavesdrop on the conversation of two total strangers and then take the time to report it to the “proper authorities”?
Soviet much, Lena?
I swear, the last time I saw behavior like this was in The Lives of Others–and that movie was set in communist East Germany. Based on her startling lack of self-awareness I’m guessing Dunham has never seen it, but if she ever does I can imagine her feeling perfectly at home in a country where the state keeps tabs on everything you do and people are encouraged to rat out their friends and neighbors for not being enthusiastic enough about supporting the regime. Or perhaps she’d be more comfortable in the world of 1984, where entertaining the wrong kind of thoughts is a crime and citizens are conditioned to speak only in the correct ways. Or, as Dunham herself put it in another tweet:
At this moment in history we should be teaching our employees about love and inclusivity @AmericanAir. That was worst part of this night.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) August 3, 2017
Ah, yes. The Ministry of Love. You’d fit right in there, Lena.
But at least until that day comes, people in America have a right to their own opinions–whether or not busybodies like Dunham approve. Because even if a couple of American Airlines employees harbor politically incorrect attitudes about transgender folks, they’re allowed to to discuss it without seeking out the company imprimatur. Assuming the incident even when down as Dunham described, it’s not as though the attendants were lecturing passengers over the issue–they were having a private conversation! A conversation that was, by the way, none of Dunham’s damned business.
Alas, to the social justice warrior, everything is their business. Especially when it comes to thoughtcrime.
UPDATE: As expected, American Airlines is disputing Dunham’s account. Because transphobia is so rampant in America that quasi-celebrities have to make stuff up to draw attention to it.