When Kanye West released “Famous” in February, he drew criticism for objectifying Taylor Swift with the now-infamous lyric, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous.” The 39-year-old rapper stirred more controversy Friday night when he shared the song’s music video in a special viewing event at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The clip includes nude wax depictions of a slew of celebrities — Taylor Swift, Rihanna, George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Anna Wintour, Chris Brown, Ray J, Amber Rose, and Caitlyn Jenner — and has now sparked a response from Lena Dunham.
“The Famous video is one of the more disturbing ‘artistic’ efforts in recent memory,” the actress wrote in a Facebook post. After contextualizing the clip with recent events, like Brock Turner’s verdict and Bill Cosby’s ongoing trial, Dunham explained why she finds the “Famous” tableau — which recreates Vincent Desiderio’s Sleep painting — deeply offensive. “Now I have to see the prone, unconscious, waxy bodies of famous women, twisted like they’ve been drugged and chucked aside at a rager? It gives me such a sickening sense of dis-ease.”
Dunham continued by noting she’s not averse to nudity in art. “If it’s been banned, I’ll probably love it,” she wrote, “because I know that art’s job is to make us think in ways that aren’t always tidy or comfortable. But this feels different. … [S]eeing a woman I love like Taylor Swift (f— that one hurt to look at, I couldn’t look), a woman I admire like Rihanna or Anna, reduced to a pair of waxy breasts made by some special effects guy in the Valley, it makes me feel sad and unsafe and worried for the teenage girls who watch this and may not understand that grainy roving camera as the stuff of snuff films.”
Dunham kicked off the note by saying she waits “with bated breath for what Kanye West will do next” and reiterated in conclusion that artistic choices like the “Famous” video are his prerogative. “Here’s the thing, Kanye: you’re cool,” she wrote. “Make a statement on fame and privacy and the Illuminati or whatever is on your mind! But I can’t watch it, don’t want to watch it, if it feels informed and inspired by the aspects of our culture that make women feel unsafe even in their own beds, in their own bodies.” Dunham included a picture of a cake bearing the phrase “alles liebe” — German for “all the best.”
West anticipated the clip’s controversial nature, even tweeting out “Can somebody sue me already #I’llwait” the day after its buzzy premiere. And while he later deleted the tweet, responses like Dunham’s prove the conversation surround the “Famous” video is far from over. Read her complete Facebook post below.