Now, actress, writer, producer, and Jill-of-all-trades Lena Dunham has weighed in, arguing that the clip is “one of the more disturbing ‘artistic’ efforts in recent memory”.
For those who are yet to see it – the central image of Kanye’s video depicts a host of (wax versions of) naked celebrities ‘in bed’ with each other. Those featured include Donald Trump, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby.
In a Facebook post, Lena Dunham writes, "Like many pop culture addicted Americans, I wait with bated breath for what Kanye West will do next. Aside from his Twitter mayhem, he has created some really "next level shit" as the kids would say. I could also happily watch Kim Kardashian West chip the paint off a window ledge for hours and be fascinated."
She does, however, have ideological issues with Kanye's video, and argues "it's possible to hold two competing thoughts in your mind."
Dunham has put words around something I couldn't quite articulate myself.
"Let's break it down: at the same time Brock Turner is getting off with a light tap for raping an unconscious woman and photographing her breasts for a group chat... As assaults are Periscoped across the web and girls commit suicide after being exposed in ways they never imagined... While Bill Cosby's crimes are still being uncovered and understood as traumas for the women he assaulted but also massive bruises to our national consciousness... 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."
Watch Lena Dunham's glorious interview with Hillary Clinton. Post continues after video.
Dunham addresses the argument that the 'Famous' video is art, and should be interpreted as such. But she says, "I was raised in the art world by a dad who painted aggro scenes of sexuality and war and a mom who, ironically enough, has photographed some butt naked life-sized dolls of her own."
"I know that art's job is to make us think in ways that aren't always tidy or comfortable," she says. "But this feels different."
"I'm sure that Bill Cosby doll being in the bed alongside Donald Trump is some kind of statement, that I'm probably being trolled on a super high level. I know that there's a hipper or cooler reaction to have than the one I'm currently having."
"But guess what? I don't have a hip cool reaction, because seeing a woman I love like Taylor Swift (f**k 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."
Given Dunham's close friendship with Taylor Swift, it's unsurprising she's weighed in on such a provocative piece with Swift front and centre.
I also found it disconcerting to see celebrities' nude wax figures portrayed in such an eerily realistic way. It takes away their ownership of their own bodies - a move which, presumably, they didn't all consent to.
"I hesitated a lot about saying anything cuz I figured the thinkpieces would come pouring in," writes Dunham. "But I didn't see this angle being explored as much as I had hoped. It's weird to feel like you're watching alone. I bet I'm not."
"Here's the thing, Kanye: you're cool. 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."
While it doesn't make me popular among my peers, I wholeheartedly agree with Dunham's argument. I'm viscerally uncomfortable with the 'Famous' clip and no amount of intricate analyses about fame and power will change that. Even if there is a profound idea behind it, the fact is that the majority of Kanye's audience aren't going to appreciate a complex ideology. They're going to see a series of naked celebrities and process that image through their own socialised filter.
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If it was me, or my friend who was portrayed naked and in bed with a man accused of domestic violence (Chris Brown) and a man accused of rape (Bill Cosby) I wouldn't be mindful about the 'artistic' element. I'd feel powerless.
Dunham ends her post by saying, "Y'all, I'm so sick of showing up to the party angry." But she doesn't apologise for how she feels. And that's the power of Lena Dunham - she's able to bravely and articulately challenge representations of women within popular culture, and by doing so, she encourages the rest of us to do the same.