The Hollywood reporter has published an interview of Full Frontal host Samantha Bee. The interviewer, in this case, is Girls creator and former Hillary Clinton surrogate Lena Dunham. What’s most interesting about the interview are some of the unspoken assumptions and also the sense that ‘The Resistance’ is slowly getting worn down by reality.
In this first excerpt, I was really struck by the question Dunham asked. This comes more than halfway through the interview after Dunham and Bee have already discussed their shock and ongoing disgust over Trump’s election. Now Dunham comes to the obvious question: What can we do about it? But she isn’t asking what she and Bee can do, she’s asking what Hollywood collectively can do:
DUNHAM You’re going to be making Full Frontal for a long time. Given the fact that Donald Trump has not yet been impeached, what are your hopes for the next four years? What do you think is the best-case scenario and how can we — people who are reading The Hollywood Reporter, who are in the business — use our voices?
BEE I have no idea.
DUNHAM Yup, great answer.
BEE I really don’t know. Personally just as a private, personal citizen, I’m really hoping for some stability. I would love to feel confident that we’re not going to war. I don’t know what the future holds at all. I am so sorry to not have any answers for you.
Of course, it won’t come as a shock to most people on the right that Hollywood is monolithically progressive, but it is interesting how casually Dunham assumes Hollywood’s hectoring is the next best thing to Trump’s impeachment. Bee’s answer strikes me as her being somewhat more self-aware than Dunham. I suspect privately she might have all sorts of ideas about how Hollywood can serve ‘The Resistance’ but she isn’t quite ready to be that blunt about it in a public forum.
This next excerpt covers something that was a big rallying cry on the left for the first few weeks after the election: normalization. For a while there “Not My President” was a big thing even though it was a) false and b) pointless. Now it seems even Lena Dunham has realized that a primal scream of rejection just doesn’t cut it anymore. And though she doesn’t say it this way, the underlying realization here is that Trump really is president and wishing it weren’t so won’t change that:
DUNHAM The amount of people I know who started out full of rage and now are like, “You know what, I’ll take a meeting with Ivanka just in case I can get her to say …”
BEE It’s hard when the sun starts shining, the blossoms are on the trees, people start to get OK with things they would never be OK with before.
DUNHAM My boyfriend said to me that if he ever had the opportunity to see Jared Kushner and Ivanka, he would scream “shame” in their face over and over. I just said I didn’t think [that would be] the most helpful thing — that he should maybe write an op-ed instead of screaming “shame” — because then he would look crazy, and they’d look cool. That’s what we don’t want. As somebody who’s covering the next four years, what’s the greatest responsibility you feel?
BEE You know, I tend not to feel a lot of responsibility. It’s probably a bad thing. I really only feel a responsibility to do the best show possible. To do a show that is correctly researched and on point that pleases us. That’s the role that we play in this. We do our thing. It’s a very niche thing, and we do it the best we can, and I think that’s my responsibility right now. And to raise my children right.
I love the bit about Dunham’s boyfriend. Things are pretty bad when she is the political voice of reason. But there is an underlying sense in her statement, an awareness really, that even after Trump’s election the world keeps on spinning. It’s not necessary to simply scream at strangers. Something closer to regular order can prevail. If that message is getting through to Dunham then it must be penetrating pretty far into the progressive bubble. Maybe the days of “Not my President” are behind us.
On the question about “responsibility,” it sounds as if Bee is once again ducking the question. She’s a professional satirist on the left. Her mission isn’t just to entertain and have fun, it’s to take down the other side. But in this interview, she acts as if it’s all about entertainment, not partisan politics. It’s the same ‘clown nose on’ move perfected by Jon Stewart. Bee is clearly still following in his footsteps.