The Anti-Defamation League has called Lena Dunham’s recent controversial piece in the New Yorker “tasteless” and “offensive.”
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“Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” a piece by the 28-year-old actress and writer of the popular HBO show “Girls,” is a list of 35 statements that begins by asking the reader “Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?”
The ADL objected to several of Dunham’s statements, including ones that imply that her boyfriend “doesn’t tip,” “never brings his wallet anywhere” and “comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women.”
“Some will certainly find Lena Dunham’s stereotypes about cheap Jews offensive. Others will take issue with the very idea of comparing a dog and a Jewish boyfriend,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement issued Friday.
“The piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the ‘No Jews or Dogs Allowed’ signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as ‘dogs,’” Foxman’s statement continued.
Since 2012, Dunham’s boyfriend in real life has been Jack Antonoff, the guitarist for the band Fun.,who attended Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, N.J. Dunham has a Jewish mother and Protestant father.
The ADL statement acknowledged that the piece was intended to be humorous:
"We doubt that Ms. Dunham had any intention of evoking such comparisons. While we understand that humor is its own special brand of expression and always try to give leeway to comedians, we wish that she had chosen another, less insensitive way to publicly reflect on her boyfriend’s virtues and vices."
Responding to the ADL's condemnation, the New Yorker's David Remnick said that, "Abe Foxman’s statement on behalf of the ADL is curious. The Jewish-comic tradition is rich with the mockery of, and playing with, stereotypes. Has Mr. Foxman never heard Lenny Bruce or Larry David or Sarah Silverman or read ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’? Lena Dunham is a comic voice working in that vein. I don’t mind if Abe Foxman didn’t find the piece funny. People can differ on that, God knows. But this is something else and, considering all the real hatred in the world, Mr. Foxman is, like those who railed at Philip Roth a generation or two ago, howling in the wrong direction.”