Joan Rivers does it again, claims Lena Dunham spreads message obesity and diabetes are OK

The comedian needs to quit concern-trolling younger women

Topics: Joan Rivers, Lena Dunham,

Joan Rivers does it again, claims Lena Dunham spreads message obesity and diabetes are OKLena Dunham, Joan Rivers (Credit: AP/Matt Sayles/Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

Isn’t she tired at this point?

Joan Rivers has broken her silence about a young female star yet again, telling Howard Stern that “Girls” creator Lena Dunham is spreading the message that poor health is acceptable.

Dunham’s nudity on “Girls” has been much-discussed throughout the show’s three-season run, as has been, endlessly, her figure; for instance, the actress and writer’s recent appearance on the cover of Vogue came freighted with expectations that it would be significantly airbrushed. In an interview with Stern, Rivers pushed the conversation to its bizarre endpoint, saying that Dunham is “sending a message out to people saying, ‘It’s OK! Stay fat! Get diabetes. Everybody die. Lose your fingers.”

As for that Vogue cover, Rivers said: “She was on Vogue’s cover looking gorgeous. You didn’t know it was her.” She said Dunham shouldn’t have appeared on the cover because she didn’t deserve it based on her physical appearance.

This is the ultimate in concern-trolling; Rivers will certainly brush off any criticism by saying that she was just making a joke, and that everyone is fair game. But, as usual, the target of Rivers’ ire is a young woman Rivers can lecture about her poor choices. (The notion that Dunham is communicating to the American public that obesity is a good choice is … bizarre on many levels that are barely worth indulging, so I won’t.) “Don’t let them laugh at you physically,” Rivers tells Dunham via the Stern show, despite the fact that the elder comedian had previously appeared on “Louie,” a show that makes great hay of star Louis C.K.’s weight and appearance. Besides, Dunham has previously said that when she appears nude on “Girls,” she’s not inviting laughter with her body but attempting to depict life as lived. If Rivers is laughing at Dunham’s appearance, that’s on her.



Rivers, who overcame barriers against women in comedy early in her career and went on to have plastic surgery that rendered her unrecognizable, criticizing another person’s failure to conform with beauty norms is a bit painful — there’s clearly something going on here about which one can only speculate. But her pattern of lashing out specifically at younger women in the industry is so tiresome. Jessica Simpson is fat. Jennifer Lawrence is arrogant. Sofia Vergara is stupid. And none of these are really jokes in the classic sense, they’re just statements of opinion.

The “Fashion Police” star is consistently described as a comedy pioneer. But what, these days, would be worse: if her critique of Dunham and others were so damning as to be actively detrimental, or if it had become such a predictable drumbeat that Rivers finds herself next to irrelevant? Dunham ought not to respond at all; why give Rivers the attention she thrives on if her jokes haven’t earned it?

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.

       

    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."

    Reuters/NASA

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...