Lena Dunham in Girls
Girls grew on us. When we started watching Lena Dunham’s HBO series a couple of years ago we found it irritating—all those self-obsessed, privileged, whiny 22-year-olds—and alarming. By the third episode we were hooked and by the fourth we were quoting it like Whit Stillman movies (“I’m not on Facebook.” “You’re so fucking classy.”). We like it because the characters can be awful and gross, make stupid choices, embarrass themselves, but manage to go on living. Also, the show is funny and sometimes moving, it messes with audience expectations by making the chubby Hannah (Lena Dunham) get naked the most, and the conventionally pretty Marnie (Allison Williams) is the most messed-up character. Yeah, let the beautiful one suffer. The breakout star of Girls is Adam Driver, who plays Adam, who started out weird and repulsive but turns out to be a man of integrity; he seems to be in every movie being made, including the next Star Wars.
Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham and Allison Williams
In the third season, Hannah finally gets a proper job writing for GQ. Except that she’s not in the Editorial section of that literary institution but in Advertorial—the section where you get tricked into reading articles only to find that they’re ads for the sponsors. She’s making real money and getting many freebies, but there is the very real possibility that she’ll wake up years in the future and realize that she hasn’t written the things she wanted to write because she was getting paid so well writing about department stores and mineral supplements and so on. Aha! We know exactly what that’s like.
We’ve done lots of advertorials, and they pay many times what we get paid for writing the things that we love. Wait, a hundred times zero is still zero—well, we got paid enough to pay the rent and utilities, while the best stuff we’ve ever written makes bupkis. We didn’t hate what we were writing advertorials about, but we didn’t love them, either. We loved being able to pay the rent and utilities and buy cat food. Fine, we also liked flying business class to Melbourne and drinking champagne in the sponsor’s lounge and watching the Australian Open finals from the front row. It’s one of those galling compromises grown-ups have to make. Write what you need to write to pay the bills; find a way to write what you love. And don’t fool yourself about the true nature of the work.
The real question is, What isn’t an advertorial these days?
So here’s this blog’s policy on advertorials. We get invited to a lot of events, and some of our friends are publicists. We write up the event if we found it interesting; other times we find we have nothing to say so we don’t write it up. Usually we mention if we were invited by the publicist or the sponsor. If we get paid to promote a product, we’ll indicate that the post was sponsored. In case anyone’s wondering.