By Vincent Kwan
If you haven’t already, take some time to read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s comments on Girls. The Huffington Post article isn’t particularly novel, nor does it win any award for timeliness. Disliking Lena Dunham’s work is like writing about how good The Wire is; so clear as to be banal. But there is one key reason why you should read it: It’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writing about Girls. He even compars Donald Glover to a black dildo (how edgy!). If there’s any sign that we are a generation in distress, it’s when the NBA’s career point leade takes time to weigh in on our vanity.
In the best of all possible worlds, this spat gets resolved in a one-on-one Lena Dunham vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar streetball matchup, AND1 mixtape style. More than most others, Kareem should understand the importance of home court advantage, and getting into an internet flame war with a princess of the social media church finds him playing perilously to his disadvantage. That said, a cageball match-up might be the only situation where I would find myself unquestionably cheering for Dunham; the thought of Hannah Horvath throwing coke-fueled tomahawk dunks on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is America’s collective wet dream.
I don’t (nor does anyone, likely) think Kareem is the most natural source of criticism on Girls, but oddly enough, I do find him to be an appropriate one. The mantra of Girls is one of collective fuckupery; it should be a comfort, albeit a cold one, that other twentysomethings out there are just as aimless and vain as we are. Kareem, on the other hand, embodies an idiosyncratic excellence; I, and I alone, stand on the mountaintop. Girls presents almost a ressentiment, of sorts. Wallowing is an exalted state, the dominion and birthright of the beautiful, white, and privileged. It’s fitting that someone who fueled by a drive toward greatness might find the reverence of pity to be a disconcerting sign of the times.
Dunham discovered Abdul-Jabbar’s comments, naturally, via Twitter, mentioned it to her dad (because you know, generational differences), and proceeded to throw shade at Kareem for a recent guest spot on the Zooey Deschanel project New Girls. If there’s a moral to be taken from this it’s that the internet is a really big place. Only in the internet’s beautiful cultural cesspools can cross-generational battles between retired sport stars and media wundergirls occur. I hope this sort of behavior is encouraged and championed. Can you imagine Steve Largent having strong opinions on Lil B? Or Randy Moss having a regular Thought Catalog column (Please, God, let this one become true). Our generation might be an insufferable and homogenous lot, but we have a way of facilitating interactions between the entire spectrum of popular culture, and mashing them up in a way as to render them trivial and meaningless. We can, and should, take a small pride in that.