We all have our things. I guess mine is analyzing and condemning celebrity behavior. Lena Dunham’s is turning every minute element into a feminist cause. Her latest Twitter jibe goes out to Justin Bieber for his new single “What Do You Mean,” in which she snarkily wrote, “Lets do away with pop songs where a girl nods yes and means no and vice versa, k?”
This overt reference to the Bieber lyric, “What do you mean when you nod your head yes, but you wanna say no?” is a clear-cut case of Dunham misplacing her so-called moral outrage over the way women are treated by men. Apart from the vexation caused by her need to get meta by essentially asking “What do you mean by ‘What Do You Mean’?”, the annoyance factor also increases when considering that there is no allusion to rape contained within the lyrics or video. Bieber simply pays John Leguizamo (a longtime music video veteran, starting with Madonna’s “Borderline”) to have sex with a prostitute in spite of the fact that there’s no believability to either him or the girl playing the prostitute, Xenia Deli, ever needing to have commerce-oriented physical contact.
While, yes, there is an extended scene where Bieber pretends to go to town on his whore, creatively speaking, it was probably just so he could show off his Calvin Klein underwear and continue to get a paycheck from them as their spokesmodel. The barging in of two masked men adds a strange and rather unexplained plot point to the video, but other than this, there is absolutely nothing within the visual contents of the song to suggest Bieber thinks women are asking to be raped based on their tendency toward mixed messages.
The bottom line is, Dunham likes to transform even the most offhanded and innocent remark into a cause for her agenda as some sort of twenty-first century answer to Betty Friedan. But that she ain’t. It’s like those Taylor Swift colonialism accusers trying to make everything about race when, sometimes, a video is just a video. And, let’s be honest, Bieber is Canadian and therefore very literal. If he’s asking “What do you mean?” he genuinely just wants you to break it down for him.