Lena Dunham Addresses That Whole Jezebel Clusterf*ck
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Lena Dunham Addresses That Whole Jezebel Clusterf*ck

By Vivian Kane | Celebrities Are Better than You | February 21, 2014 | Comments ()


In case you missed the whole Jezgate (scratch that, the whole thing is too stupid for even the stupidest of names) debacle a few weeks ago, a brief recap.

Back in January, Jezebel offered $10,000 (REALLY??) for unretouched photos from Lena Dunham’s Vogue cover shoot.


Presumably, they expected the pictures to look like this:


When in reality, they looked like this:


Pretty anticlimactic, no?

Dunham hinted at a response by way of Twitter

And an interview with Slate:

I haven’t been keeping track of all the reactions, but I know some people have been very angry about the cover and that confuses me a little. I don’t understand why, photoshop or no, having a woman who is different than the typical Vogue cover girl, could be a bad thing.

But now in an interview with Grantland’s Bill Simmons, Dunham is dropping the “some people” thing addressing this bullsh*t directly.

(If the video doesn’t automatically do it, skip to around the 52:00 mark.)

I don’t know how much commentary I can offer on this issue that Dunham didn’t just say herself. I had the same reaction to this whole debacle. I was an enthusiastic Jezebel reader until this shitshow broke loose. Now, despite the fact that the site remains the same, it feels somehow broken. Jezebel is similar to Pajiba in that the readers and commenters feel part of a community, and there’s a bond that enables a sense of trust on the site. Once that trust is broken, the foundation of the site is eroded and the site’s core values are compromised. Just imagine if Dustin were to write a tear-down piece of Alison Brie or Paul Rudd. How would we, as a collective, ever be the same? Could we learn to trust again?

By the way, today Jezebel linked to the same interview, but to talk about a different anecdote, entirely ignoring her mention of their site. Does this seem icky to anyone else?

Via The Wrap.

Vivian Kane considers herself a Feminist with a capital F-bomb. Find her here.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • elirt

    I'm a feminist and stopped reading Jezebel a while ago. It started to go down the witch hunt territory rather than posting thoughtful pieces focusing on what's really happening, it feels like all they do is look for ways to be pissed off. a lot of what they post I wouldn't even know if they hadn't. If you want to make a change, then be the change. Post the things you think everyone else should be focusing on rather than adding more flame to the fire.

  • Jezzer

    I can't really pick between Jezebel and Lena Dunham. It's like an All-You-Can-Hate bar.

    Can't we just agree they're both horrible and move on?

  • GrungellaCronk

    I love that Vogue even has to photoshop a knee.

  • pending

    I'm sort of surprised no one's pointed out the way this whole thing seemed to have been an attempt to relive the glory days: when Jezebel offered a ransom for a pre-photoshop cover and got a hold of the original cover shot of Faith Hill for Redbook. You do a compare-contrast on the two articles and brings everything that's creepy about Jezebel's recent actions into stark relief.

  • dilwazr

    I realize this is a bit beside the point, but I'm not very familiar with Bill Simmons. Is this his typical interview style--frequently interrupting and talking over his guest? I think Lena Dunham is actually trying to say something and he keeps Michael Moore-ing her.

  • Krissy

    Disclaimer: I didnt watch much of that interview but I do have to say: Why the hell wouldn't that guy just shut up and let her talk. He kept interrupting her. We get it...you still kind of like Jezebel and want to know Lena's perspective on the whole mess but LET HER GIVE her perspective for Christ sake.

  • Sars

    Id also like to take the opportunity to say: Madam MIM was my childhood idol.

  • Sars

    I initially discovered Jezebel through Pajiba back in 2009 (seems so long ago now). They were a witty feminist site and while I never left comments I enjoyed the articles. At some point though, there was a shift, it wasnt even gradual, it was SUDDEN. Where there were female issues with a sprinkle of celebrity news ,there was no just MEAN GIRL articles. The commenters are the worst thing about that site. They just sound like a bunch of miserable women WAITING to pounce on someon who has a different view point. I remember commenting on an article making fun of a celebrity for being vegan, and stating that I was vegan on a low budget and it was in fact possible and better for you and the planet.
    All of a sudden I had people writing to me calling me a privilaged bitch, and making assumptions about how I must be one of those "Skinny annorexics" who is masking her eating disorder etc. It was so terrible. I wowed never to return and never to comment. on the off chance that I end up on that site, they seem to always be slamming this skinny or that skinny celeb. their relationship with curvy celebs is even worse. Its as if they OWN this person, and god forbid the model or the actress decides to lose weight, then its open season...
    Its quite rediculous. it is not a feminist site. Its a mean-girl site, run by people who were themselves probably bullied at some point.

  • lumenatrix

    Yeah, I remember when I first started reading it way back when it first launched I had great conversations with a lot of really smart people about both serious topics and also silly, frivolous ones. Now I almost never bother commenting at all because unless it's about, like, which lip gloss is the best I always end up feeling like I'm arguing with a 19-year-old women's studies/gender studies/cultural studies major who is still on her "fire-and-brimstone everyone is WRONG and the world is black and white and everyone is racist/sexist/homophobic except ME but I can't articulate well so I'll just respond with catty sarcasm and insults" bender.

    Jez is still on my blogroll but I'm finding that I ignore more and more stuff and just click over to the "hey look, cute puppy!" and "let's talk makeup" articles because I just can't with their "serious" reporting anymore.

  • There was such an air of "She HAS to be photoshopped! She's not nearly that pretty!" to the whole thing on Jezebel's part (even if that wasn't their intention) that I just felt insulted on Dunham's behalf. Why offer such a stupid sum of money for THIS cover and not the billion others that Vogue has produced and photoshopped even more obviously?

    So like she said, instead of letting her enjoy her moment of "holy shit, I'm on Vogue!" they had to go and put a pall on it by being douchebags about it. I'm beyond done with that site.

  • Sars

    the thing is, I bet you those people who wanted to do an expose on Dunham's photo, use instagram or some sort of photo filteration. heck I bet they wouldnt use bad photos of themselves. NO ONE WOULD. So why go after her, without her consent? its almost violating her right to privacy. she signed up to Vogue knowing / believing that the best photos of her would be used, why try to ruin her happiness / image. such a bitch move.

  • EXACTLY. Who wouldn't want to get a little smoothed out or a little retouched for VOGUE? Yes, there are extremes, but this is not one of those cases.

  • Just imagine if Dustin were to write a tear-down piece of Alison Brie or Paul Rudd. How would we, as a collective, ever be the same? Could we learn to trust again?

    Or Sam Rockwell? Or Idris Elba? Wait...then you would be suicidal. Or win ALL the trolling awards.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I prefer his subtle trolling. A word choice here, a reference there, casually inciting rage wars. His is a large pot and he is a man of many ladles.

  • I KNOW. And they really highlight the moments when he sets it off accidentally.

    How's that Wendell Pierce piece going now, by the way?

  • Mrs. Julien

    I love those most of all because you know how careful and introspective he can be. You can almost hear him exclaiming, "Oh, SH*T!" when it goes awry. And then we get a think piece.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Maybe it's me but I've always thought Jezebel and their comment section were basically a lot of very shrill harpies that, under the excuse of "feminism", descended on anyone that disagreed with the herd.

  • Kris

    I came to the same conclusion about a year and a half ago. I don't go there anymore and I won't click through to them from other sites.

  • It's not you.

  • Ruthie O

    I stopped reading Jezebel years ago, and am happy others are starting to realize they are really mean girls with a feminist bent, rather than an actual feminist site. The article that got me to stop is when one of their writers posted a series of pictures of girls who had carved Justin Bieber's name into their arms and legs (like, really deep cuts), and the headline wasn't "Trigger-Warning: Let's Talk about Self Harm in Adolescents" but essentially "LOL OMG TEENZ ARE SO WEIRD." The comment section erupted in justified complaints, that were quickly removed. Ew.

  • Sars

    they are horrible over there. the articles are shitty and the commenters are even worse. unless you are a heavier set person who talks up being heavy, they will SPEW HATE on you. its aweful.

  • Don't forget the now legendary rape victims photos they thought were appropriate to publish. THAT was my final straw with them, and really any Gawker site that wasn't io9, Kotaku, and Lifehacker (and Kotaku was getting there).

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I love me some io9.

  • Ruthie O

    Ugh. I missed that, thankfully. I just wish they would drop the charade and own the fact that they are a trashy, click-hungry site. I think the fact that they present themselves as feminist and then do such obviously un-feminist things is why I just can't hang with the Jez.

  • HelloLongBeach

    Her Cadence is the reason people either love or hate Girls.

  • I never understood what was the purpose of Jezebel's stunt here. Even if it was for attention and pageviews, they could have done cheaper and more effective things. If it was revenge for that kinda-slam in Girls, it seems like a pretty extreme reaction. How is this feminist, or supportive of women at all? A woman gets successful, gets a cover shot on a famous magazine, and you shell out six figures to find something to make her look bad, out of some bullshit concern for the integrity of her image? Without her permission and against her will, I might add?

    It is just so....passive-aggressive and snippy. It fulfills just about every stereotype about Jezebel their detractors have thrown at them: they are jealous, petty, arrogant, self-absorbed and naive. When even people who HATE Dunham and her show are saying "what is your problem?", there should be some reevaluations.

  • Sars

    Jezebel has turned into a mean-girl, name calling site for people who would never have the guts to say same to a person's face. I remember when it was a feminist site, and then it changed. I once made a remark under a Angelina Jolie slamming article, about how tearing other women down for their looks is completly anti feminist, and it was pointed out ot me by one of the commenters that "this is a celebrity gossip website, were not claiming to be feminists here."-- well I guess she knew better than I.

  • profession: none, or starlet

    I still read it, but they respond to every criticism with "celebrity gossip site! Never said we were feminist!" Which I suppose is technically true, but disingenuous as hell.

  • Sars

    but the problem is they VEIL each bullying behavior with feminism... likle bullying Dunham ( who i will confess I do not like for many reasons) and veiling it as a "feminist" investigation into / criticism of photoshop/ body shaming. When in fact they are outing a person, and using her, for their own publicity / self affirmation. And anyone who dare chriticise them is "anti-feminist" and adhering to the status quo. barf.

  • BWeaves

    The thing that really gets me is that the photographer and the magazine staff didn't "fix" these problems before the photograph was taken.

    I've had professional photos taken. The photographer walked up to me and adjusted my dress and necklace and hair so everything was smooth and in the right place in the camera shot. He adjusted the lights to get rid of the bags under my eyes. He told me to sit up straight and tilt my head a different way to tighten the jaw line.

    Was this slouchy photo REALLY the best photo of the bunch? If yes, then that photographer and magazine staff need to be fired. What the hell is wrong with them? It's their job to make the person in the photo look good. It's lazy and a time waster to do this crap with photoshop after the fact.

  • lumenatrix

    Seeing as they were shot by Annie Lebovitz, I don't think she's going to be let go. :)

    It's sort of how she's known for working, though. She doesn't do a lot of set up and then does a ton of post-prod manipulations. She'll change backgrounds or alter other things, and not just regular "make them pretty" photoshop. If she likes the face from one shot and the body from another she'll swap them around, or change the clothes, whatever.

  • DominaNefret

    Lena Dunham's posture is TERRIBLE. Her upper traps and scalenes are so tight that they are bulging, her rhomboids are weak and pec minor and pec major and serratus anterior are really tight, leading to some major internal rotation of her shoulders. Her core and lats are both really weak, leading to that slumped over posture. When someone's posture gets that bad, especially in the shoulder girdle, it can actually be impossible for them to do anything but slouch until the problem is fixed.
    She needs regular therapeutic massage and physical therapy.

  • MarTeaNi

    I give most of the shopping on this a pass. Minor tweaks like improving the jawline and getting rid of a skin crease could have been fixed with more gifted lighting and posing, but whatever.

    But I draw the line at creating a completely new top of dress. That is some serious failure on the part of the wardrobe department, who apparently decided they didn't have to bother giving Dunham a dress that fit because they could just fix it in post. That is beyond lazy, at that point why even have a wardrobe department?

  • wonkeythemonkey

    It's quite possible that the photographer got a ton of objectively "better" photos that lacked the flaws in this one. Sometimes, though, it's not the most flawless photos that capture the spirit of the subject or the shoot. That's when the editor gets to say, "this photo really communicates what we want to communicate, but her dress was hanging kind of funny off her shoulder. Thank god for Photoshop!"

  • BWeaves

    "this photo really communicates what we want to communicate, . . ."

    Except this particular photo sucks. Nothing to do with Lena. It's the subject matter, the pose, etc. suck. They're supposed to be making you want to buy that dress and make her look pretty. I can't believe there wasn't a better photo of that dress or her.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    I don't know, that's a pretty reductionist view of any photograph's purpose. Vogue isn't just about making clothing look pretty, it's about selling an image. And I'm sure that the magazine's creative director has ideas about the art of photography that go beyond "sell the dress."

    I can't prove the motives of anyone involved, having no connection to the world of fashion photography and journalism. Still, I'd still wager that if glamorizing clothing was the magazine's *only* priority, they wouldn't have been photographing a comedy writer and actor whose entire public persona is built around not being glamorous.

  • NateMan

    A lot of people perceive Photoshop as the beginning and end all of photography these days. Including too many professionals. You took a crappy photo? Hell, just slap some filters on it and it'll be fine!

  • NateMan

    Jezebel - particularly the commenters, but more and more the writers - is a daily reminder that I can agree with many people on most things, yet still think they're complete and utter assholes.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Sean Penn serves that exact purpose for me.

  • Cowtools

    I used to enjoy reading Jezebel, and I thought they were pretty righteous. But somewhere along the line something changed. I don't think it was the quest for clicks per se; the quality of their writing just declined.
    Even when I agree with their point of view, they tone has become too hyperbolic and one-sided, and reliant on straw man arguments, and it seems as if one were to disagree with a point they'd be accused of tone-policing or exercising their privilege, which would be legitimate complaits except that they're often used to dismiss entire lines of discourse.

    As to your last point, if your takedown of Alison Brie or Paul Rudd was well-reasoned and thoughtful, then...
    Nah, you'd still be monsters.

  • I agree about the decline in the quality of the writing. I quit Jez cold turkey around the time they switched to the upvote comment system, lost a handful of original writers to other publications, and promoted the mods to writers. A few years ago, now.

  • Cowtools

    Is that what happened? Because that makes sense. If the mods are now the writers, then who's moderating them?

  • Word. It became this complete ouroboros of patting each other on the back and only allowing committee-approved opinions to be expressed. Any failure to behave as a sycophant resulted in verbal dismemberment (or disemvowelling) and banning. Some of my favorite commenters were the first to disappear.

  • The original pitiful tits

    Well, with the amount of money they shelled out, I'd hypothesize the incentive was really for some sort of rating bonanza. But maybe someone at Jezebel suspects or knows that Dunham is totes Hollywood and is all like my faux altruism is better than yours.

  • poopnado

    Yes, it does seem icky. I'm not a fan of Dunham, but what Jez did was gross, and their handling of it was worse. Jezebel gets it wrong quite frequently. But to be honest, sometimes Pajiba gets it wrong too. I get frustrated with both sites, but I'm still on both. Jezebel is pretty mainstream, and I think they do a lot of stupid stuff just to get page views. Clearly this was over the top and lost them readership, but it doesn't entirely surprise me. I think a lot of their articles are a good starting point for discussion--I frequently skim the articles and get down to see what people are discussing in the comments.

  • Lee

    "stuff just to get page views."
    That's where the trust is lost.

  • 'Clusterfuck' is also a pretty good description of what the comments section appended to any Lena Dunham/'Girls' related article eventually turns into. Since this one got posted in the wee hours, it's probably safe for a little bit.

  • Ben

    NO FUCK YOU! She's stupid and fat... or not fat enough... or too smart... or... look if i'm being honest I don't really follow the Lena Dunham threads so help me out a little bit here?

  • googergieger

    Meh. I think most of the "hate" comes from, indifference. Which apparently means you hate women because you don't like mediocre television.

  • Blake Shrapnel

    She's terrible! She has beautiful eyes, and her hair smells like CINNAMON.

  • Lee

    60% of the time, it works every time...

  • TK

    I'm not gonna lie to you - that smells like pure gasoline.

  • I don't know, I heard somewhere that periods attract bears. The bears can smell the menstruation.

  • Billybob

    Well, that's just great. You hear that, Vivian? Bears. Now you're putting the whole website in jeopardy.

  • TacoBellRey


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