1.21.2014

How Should You Respond to a Question You Find Offensive and Hateful

Judd Apatow Jenni Konner Lena Dunham GirlsOn today's topic, I'm late, ignorant, and clueless, but that's never been a deterrent to posting dreck in this space.  I'm speaking of the furor around journalist Tim Molloy asking Lena Dunham of "Girls" why her character is naked so often on the show. After responding to the question itself in one sentence - "It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it," she punched back against the question, as did the show's two executive producers, Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow.  Molloy was left to fend off accusations of misogyny, which he tried to during the interview as well as in an article later that day.

Understandably, this is a tricky question to ask, although I agree with Molloy that it's fair to ask.  But let's assume for a moment that it is in fact an offensive and hateful question to ask.  If you were Dunham, Konner, or Apatow, what would you do? 

(A) Condemn the sentiment behind it.  "I can't believe you just asked something so vile."

(B) Try to educate the question-asker as to why the question is so wrong.  "Here's why what you're asking is so offensive."

(C) Seek to understand where the question is coming from.  "What exactly are you getting at?"

(D) Answer the question however much you dislike the sentiment behind it.  "I'm glad you asked that question.  Here's why there's so much nudity on the show..."

In life, we are going to come across some ignorance, some stupidity, and some out-and-out evil.  How we choose to respond, I think, depends on what we're trying to accomplish.  Do you truly want to enlighten people or do you prefer to score points for yourself by vilifying others?  Do you revel at the chance to articulate the philosophical intent behind your artistic decisions or would you rather not have to explain yourself?  Many of you, I'm sure, think you know where Dunham, Konner, and Apatow are coming from; I simply do not know these people at all so I can't say. But each of us can know where we are coming from.  Let's hope we handle questions we consider misguided in ways that build up rather than tear down. 


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