January 16, 2013

You know you’ve made it in Hollywood when Howard Stern, King of All Everything, devotes a segment to you on his satellite airwaves. But in Lena Dunham’s case, Stern’s acknowledgment of her existence wasn’t ideal. After his wife forced him to watch an episode of Girls with her, Stern called Dunham a “little fat girl who looks like Jonah Hill, who keeps taking her clothes off and it kind of feels like a rape.” The internet erupted, Stern became Public Enemy #1 for the 123,546th time in his career, and David Letterman addressed the situation while Dunham was a guest on his show. Dunham, being the high priestess of self-deprecation that she is, made light of his comments (something about wanting them on her tombstone), and the whole thing got buried under Dunham’s charming Golden Globes takeover.

Then on Monday, Stern, perhaps feeling the weight of America’s newest sweetheart on his shoulders (ugh, that came out wrong) issued a public apology of sorts to Dunham. Howard Stern is not one to reconfigure his comments (He blamed Perez Hilton for taking them out of context, and the rest of the media for copy catting), but he assured his audience—and Dunham, if she was listening—that he’s actually a huge fan of Girls (like the rest of us, it took him more than two episodes to realize this), and that he feels really bad because this girl is like a young Woody Allen. But that wasn’t enough. Stern instructed his trusty producer (Baba Booey!) to get Dunham on the phone so he can apologize to her voice-to-voice.

Then, this morning, it happened. Dunham called into Stern’s show to bask in the glow of his sorry-ness, and while the audio isn’t online yet, the New York Post has some of the details:

From Stern: “I realize: not only am I addicted, but I totally get you. I’m in love with you and your character,” and “It’s not about apologizing, although I want to say I’m a fan of yours … I love you and I think you’re terrific.”

That’s a really big deal. Stern never goes out of his way to make sure he hasn’t offended someone. He’s made a career out of offending people. For many, getting insulted by Stern is almost a right of passage. Dunham acknowledged as much this morning: ““Howard Stern says I’m ‘not obese or anything’ … I appreciate it and I appreciate your effort to rectify [this], but whether you’d done that or not, I’d have remained a [Howard Stern] enthusiast.”

Lena Dunham must have hung up that phone feeling like she owned the fucking place, especially if she was in her apartment, that she owned. When Stern criticized Gabourey Sidibe’s weight back in 2010 (to an even bigger uproar) he offered no public mea culpa to the Precious star, and defiantly stood by his comments. But Sidibe didn’t have the most talked about show in the country, and she hadn’t just experienced an awards show coronation a few nights before, and she isn’t the subject of every 4th blog post on the internet, and she isn’t the future of a certain brand of comedy. Dunham, however, at 26 years old, tamed America’s best loved and most hated troll with nothing else but her sheet talent. That’s power.

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