For the third time now, thought leader Lena Dunham joined multiplatform presence Bill Simmons on his podcast yesterday. It was a typically awkward and at times baffling example of audience cross-pollination between two people with little in common besides their love of their own voices. Dunham has takes on the Williams Sisters' legacy! Simmons thinks Serena looks like a circus attraction, but has sworn off chauvinism! Please watch Girls and read the coverage on Grantland, you guys!
Rather than go through a blow-by-blow of the entire thing, it might be best just to point up two representative exchanges. Here the two talk about Venus and Serena ...
BS: "And [Serena Williams] kind of doesn't get enough credit from a femininity kind of...pushing the barriers standpoint for some of the outfits"—
LD: "You mean from a feminist perspective. Or do you mean"—
BS: "Because she was just like 'I don't care. I'm showing my body off, and'"—
BS: "Do you have people that, this is gonna sound weird. Well, we might as well get weird. We were gonna get weird anyway. There's certain people that you just wanna stare at, and it doesn't mean that you're in love with them or anything. But you're just like, I just like looking at this person. I don't get to see people like this normally in my everyday life. And I feel like Serena, if she was there [points across the room] I'd just be like 'Can I just stare at you for 10 minutes?'"
LD: "Because she's the most beautiful, compelling"—
BS: "There's no person that looks like her."
LD: "Yeah. Mmm."
BS: "I just want to stare at her."
LD: "There's no other person [starts laughing]—I think you and my dad are super on the same page about this."
... and here they're talking about how Simmons transcended his own chauvinism:
BS: "Well I used to be a chauvinist before I had a daughter."
LD: "You think you used to be a chauvinist?"
LD: "What form do you think it took?"
BS: "I had this whole thing about how, sports fans I liked how it was like our last male thing. Leave us alone, why do you have to watch football with us. This is our thing, just leave us"—
LD: "Get out of here, Cameron Diaz, with your cool attitude!"
BS: "Yeah. But then when I had my daughter and I was like, Wow. My daughter, like, totally changed my outlook on just about all male-female things."
LD: "That's a really cool thing to hear."
You'd think Dunham would have the awareness and vocabulary to explain to Simmons that these two lines of conversation—one in which he proudly states that he just can't stop staring at the muscly black woman in the skinsuit, and the other in which he claims to be a reformed chauvinist—are in direct conflict with each other. But that would be to confuse what they're both really there for.
Chatting with Simmons gives Dunham a way to ingratiate herself (and her show) with 20- and 30-somethings who live further than a stone's throw from the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans and would never think to watch Girls. As for Simmons, he gets to dish on feminism and demonstrate how far he's come from his days spent rating the combined bankability and bangability of Hollywood actresses while sitting at a black jack table with J-Bone and Stink-Bug. (Spoiler alert: he hasn't come that far.)
It's an effective back-scratching strategy for the two walking brands. That what they're actually saying makes no sense doesn't matter; the point is that they're there, with each other, saying it.