Two different representations of American college girls have made their respective impressions in the media recently. One is in the movie Tiny Furniture, created entirely by Lena Dunham and acted by her and some family members along with other actors. This is a movie that has been generally acclaimed and apparently stimulated interest by HBO for a series to be written by Ms. Dunham and produced by Hollywood’s Judd Apatow. The protagonist of the movie, played by Ms. Dunham, is a just-graduated young woman leaving the cocoon of college and returning to her family with no concrete plans for the future, no boyfriend and a heightened sense of entitlement in place of a sense of reality. Aura, as she is called, is a plain Jane, overweight exhibitionist whose sense of daring is first manifested by her willingness to show us her chubby thighs and cascading midriff. That’s hardly a shocker nowadays when plump girls are finally on t.v. ads for Playtex bras and in numerous sit-coms where their size is not their only talent. As the movie progresses, we witness a series of domestic scenes in which Aura regresses not to adolescence but to genuinely infantile behavior such as knocking things off a kitchen counter and crawling into bed with “mommy,” played by Dunham’s real-life mother, a sophisticated, successful artist in fact and film. The squabbles with her younger, taller and ostensibly brighter sister descend to the level of pre-pubescent tantrums and her relationship with her childhood friend is characterized by a flood of “omigods” and stereotypical valley-speak. Though this is both dull and insipid, it’s not the worst offense the movie has to offer. In a climactic scene, Aura has unprotected, robotic sex with a guy who has a live-in girlfriend; they each avow that they don’t have AIDS or herpes and proceed without a condom inside a vacant pipe on a desolate street. Aura later confesses this to her mother who barely reacts except to suggest that Aura take better care of herself. What’s most troubling about this movie is that Aura’s increasingly aberrant behavior is seen as a sociological comment instead of a sign of psychological disturbance. Somehow, we are meant to see her as a budding artist constrained by a society where her size and aptitudes preclude an easy fit. Though this might have been the case in Kansas some generations ago, it’s both bogus and risible in the wealthy lofts of Tribeca and the movie remains a sophomoric attempt to epater le bourgeois.
Jumping from the dysfunctional to the gifted, the lesbian students of Princeton, responding to a call from a coalition of groups in Philadelphia, put their creme de la creme minds to the contemplation of hummus and justice for Palestinians. According to these elite students, the profits from the sale of Sabra and Tribe hummus go directly to the occupying force of Israel and it’s incumbent upon Americans to boycott these products so as to eliminate Israeli apartheid. Actually, these foods are prepared and packaged in Queens in a company partially owned by Pepsi. No Israelis hiding there and a quick trip to google would have told these academic stars that their information was rancid.The Princeton ladies worked up a routine with a catchy tune, hand motions, clapping, finger-wagging, stomping in black revolutionary, body-hugging outfits and red sequined headbands for their attack on a local supermarket. Obviously some time had gone into preparing this performance, time that could have been spent protesting issues that should be close to the hearts of lesbian feminists like the zero tolerance for them in any Muslim society with attendant punishments of rape and death. What these young women revealed is the knee-jerk nature of their need to rebel. In another time, students actually put their lives on the line in the fight for civil rights, marching to threatening places where consequences proved the mettle of one’s dedication to social justice. These young ladies are neither sufficiently educated, brave nor independent enough to deviate from the party line endorsed by their leftist mentors. These activists are some very lazy thinkers occupying space at one of the most select Ivy League schools. So what’s next for the academettes of Princeton - an assault on Hebrew National hot dogs?
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