Lena Dunham should consider changing her middle name to “controversy” because here we go again.
On Wednesday, in a guest editor note in the Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment issue, Dunham penned a very public apology to actress Aurora Perrineau, who accused Girls writer and producer Murray Miller of sexual assault last year. At the time, Dunham and her then-collaborator Jenni Konner, issued a statement defending Miller and claiming Perrineau’s accusations are part of the “3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.” The pair, but mostly Dunham, took a hit for that and she tweeted an apology.
Now, a year later, Dunham writes in a long essay that she made a “terrible mistake.” She explains, “When someone I knew, someone I had loved as a brother, was accused, I did something inexcusable: I publicly spoke up in his defense. There are few acts I could ever regret more in this life. I didn’t have the ‘insider information’ I claimed but rather blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all. I wanted to feel my workplace and my world were safe, untouched by the outside world (a privilege in and of itself, the privilege of ignoring what hasn’t hurt you) and I claimed that safety at cost to someone else, someone very special.”
Dunham apologized directly to Perrineau, writing, “To Aurora: You have been on my mind and in my heart every day this year. I love you. I will always love you. I will always work to right that wrong. In that way, you have made me a better woman and a better feminist. You shouldn’t have been given that job in addition to your other burdens, but here we are, and here I am asking: How do we move forward? Not just you and I but all of us, living in the gray space between admission and vindication.”
She also acknowledged Perrineau’s mother, Brittany, calling her “fierce, powerful, a born leader, a patient mother, the kind of woman I hope to be.” (Perrineau’s father is Lost star Harold Perrineau.) Dunham said “getting to know” Brittany “has been the unexpected gift that came from being humbled and reassessing so much over the past year: about women and power.”
To illustrate that, a few hours after the essay was published online, Dunham and Brittany Perrineau took the stage together at the Women in Hollywood event. It was described a “big emotional moment.”
Big emotional moment here as @lenadunham brings Brittany Perrineau to stage, mother of Aurora, and she apologizes to both for denying Aurora’s sexual assault. Lena says it is has now become most powerful teaching moment of her life. #WomeninEntertainment. Lots of tears here… pic.twitter.com/RNkgoFKWCR
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) December 5, 2018
Dunham’s essay also talked about her own experience being the victim of sexual harassment and misconduct. She talked about hostility she faced in the writers’ room and the date rape she went public with. She also disclosed other experiences: “I didn’t want to tell anyone about the 70-year-old Hollywood luminary who was so angry that I rebuffed his kiss that he made me do 30 takes of the word ‘hello,'” she wrote, “or about the Oscar nominee who drove me to the place he lost his virginity while I asked again and again when I could be dropped home. I didn’t want anyone to know about the pseudo boyfriend who tied me up with my special-occasion stockings and forced himself inside me anally, or about my father’s friend who asked me to lunch but that I not tell my father we were meeting.”
Dunham noted in her essay that there are probably people who “will think I am writing this to curry public favor” and she was “OK” with that — and that’s pretty much what the internet thought. Twitter was filled with comments from people seemingly exhausted with the star. Her apology was described as “unsurprisingly self-centered” and marveled over how she manages to make “this all about you, Lena Dunham?!”
Lena Dunham’s apology to Aurora was unsurprisingly self-centered.
— Truman Ports (@truman_ports) December 5, 2018
How the fuck do you still manage to make this all about you, Lena Dunham?!https://t.co/7lGQgukWrz
— Kayleigh Donaldson (@Ceilidhann) December 5, 2018
the fontrum from reading that Lena Dunham letter is painful
— Inkoo Kang (@inkookang) December 5, 2018
People wondered why it took her a year to do it. (She did address it immediately after.)
A year or so later? @lenadunhamapols
Hey @lenadunham Go Away!
Go the FLOCK away !
An apology where you toss in how your #MeToo moment(s) IS infinitely worse than Ms Perrineau? rs? Shut Up & GO AWAY!
We do not care about you! Shut Up! #UGH
— alicia cabrerathomas (@aliceinglen) December 5, 2018
You apologized a whole year later. Progress sis
— valerie complex (@ValerieComplex) December 5, 2018
They @ messaged THR to complain about giving her a forum.
— Desiree (@desireepar) December 5, 2018
They complained that Dunham trending on Twitter detracted from the national day of mourning over George H.W. Bush’s death.
Yup a former President who crashed into the Pacific fighting the Japanese is being layed to rest but let's give people what they really want: a live tweetstorm of women congratulating themselves for being famous women. Oh and Lena Dunham life lessons.
— Jeremy Fichaud (@FilmJunkie82) December 5, 2018
They shared (and shared) why she rubs them the wrong way.
Most mid-western conservatives thinks every liberal/progressive is just like Lena Dunham, so I kind of get why they hate us. That’s not really a joke, either.
— Rylan Strader (@RylanDogg2) December 5, 2018
Lena Dunham is a tool and white feminism at its worst. https://t.co/3FxNyiAJ8b
— Laura Durnell (@LauraDurnell) December 5, 2018
When will Lena Dunham become irrelevant and disappear? https://t.co/n13hJswLVn
— Marilyn Ferdinand (@FerdyOnFilms) December 5, 2018
I thought Lena Dunham disappeared. Or at least I hoped
— Nadia (@EgoIsNotUrAmigo) December 5, 2018
— Rachel What’s Vacation? Jacoby Zoldan (@rjacoby13) December 5, 2018
Aurora Perrineau accused Miller of sexually assaulting her in 2012 when she was just 17. Although she filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and took a polygraph test, the district attorney declined to pursue charges.
Miller’s attorney said at the time of the accusations that Miller “categorically and vehemently denies” the “outrageous claims” and that his legal team had “gathered overwhelming evidence directly contradicting these false and offensive claims.” That led to Dunham and Konner to release a statement in which they voiced their support for Miller and insinuated that Perrineau “misreported” the rape. The statement was met with a backlash, and Dunham later issued an apology on Twitter.
In an interview with the Cut last week, Dunham acknowledged that she’s “not for everyone” and said she plans to step back from the public eye after a rough year in which she dealt with health issues, shuttered Lenny Letter, dissolved her partnership with Konner and received bad press for Camping. In that interview, she also said that when Perrineau made the allegations against Miller in 2017, she had just undergone an elective hysterectomy and she was “high as a f***ing kite” from the surgery yet “I think I was just like, F*** everyone else. This is my tribe. Let’s keep it safe.”
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