Backlash After Steven Spielberg Taps Lena Dunham to Adapt Syrian Refugee Movie

Honoree Lena Dunham speaks onstage at Variety's Power of Women New York presented by Lifetime at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Variety)
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Variety

Actress Lena Dunham recently announced that she would be writing a movie, adapted from a book, about Syrian refugees — and many on the social justice left are not happy.

Lena Dunham celebrated the news Monday that she will adapt a screenplay from the book “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival,” for a movie to be produced by Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams.

Dunham announced the gig, saying she’s “very lucky” to “support this truth with these people.”

However, several people took issue with Dunham having this position, as she is an upper-class white American woman, and not Syrian or a refugee.

Though Dunham has often positioned herself as a champion of feminist and social justice causes, she has also been known to often raise the ire of the social justice crowd. Her signature HBO show Girls was popular, but was also attacked by some critics for it’s overt “whiteness.”

The 32-year-old also raised eyebrows last fall for defending a girls producer, Murray Miller, who was accused of committing sexual misconduct in 2012.

Dunham and co-creator Jenni Konner released a statement defending him. “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year,” the statement read.

She quickly apologized for defending him, saying, “We regret this decision with every fiber of our being.”


“Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship to the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case.”

In her 2014 memoir Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham accused a “campus Republican” named Barry of raping her at Oberlin College while she was a 19-year-old student at the school. She waited months to admit that she lied about that claim.


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