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Lena Dunham and the Voice of My Generation

Posted: 26/03/2013 23:00

The voice of a generation is always a contentious issue. Last century had the likes of Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan, cool, young writers with an urge to tell the world about their peer's ideas, influences and struggles. In keeping with this trend it would seem that my generation's spokesperson has already been informally elected, in the form of 26-year-old Lena Dunham.

The Girls star, while managing to rack up more column inches than horsemeat, Chris Huhne and Harry Styles combined concerning her body alone so far this year, has managed to garner a title most would lust after, but herself admits 'haunts ' her. Whether deserving of the accolade or not, her 'voice' is on immediate inspection a relatively dark one.

Girls is littered with examples of overindulged, entitled twenty-somethings, unable to hold down a job for more than a few months due to personality clashes and boredom, while being entirely self-obsessed and overly concerned with every aspect of their own lives from fashion to food. It paints a picture of an age group trapped in arrested development, desperately unable to grow up.

It's a scenario which is unilaterally backed up by the press. It is without doubt accepted that the last generation 'had it the best'. In one corner unemployment, rising retirement age and unpaid internships are dashing our hopes of ever getting a job, while in the other property prices, lack of confidence in lenders and the fact that a normal house costs five times the average wage mean we're projected to only be able to own our homes by the age of fifty two.

On top of grim financial prospects, we're the first generation expected to die younger than our parents. The availability of fast-food, sedentary lifestyles and a rising inclination to binge drink mean that the current under 25's are unhealthier than those brought up in the boom years.

The label of the previous generation begs us to create one for ourselves. Where they're the 'boom', we're the 'doom', like the youth of the 1960s. Instead of the prospect of Apocalyptic nuclear war, we've grown up with terrorism, climate change and economic instability. Yet this precedent shows us what we're meant to do about it. The 'flower power' generation turned on, tuned in and dropped out with LSD, the contraceptive pill and the occasional march and we should just accept our hedonism and ridiculousness too.

Sure, our parents strolled into whatever dream job they applied for, but they never had TV shows like Storage Wars, where people compete to bid on the contents of untended storage lockers, or Shrinking My Seventeen Stone Legs, which hopefully explains itself.

And yes, they may have snapped up houses like most people would pick up a cheeky crème egg on the way to the checkout, but did they ever find themselves in a situation where it was cheaper to buy an entire home printer with an ink cartridge than just buying the ink cartridges on their own?

For all we might be tempted to moan, our generation has its quirks, from out-of-control Facebook parties where people do drugs that weren't even invented last week to being able to publicise any minor foible we might have online for people to commiserate with, which in the end is the real message of Girls.

The parts of the show that aren't concerned with the less-than-ideal circumstances we're working with focus on the gloriously stupid fun we all have at our finger tips. We can have weird, experimental, porn-inspired sex (while we're young enough to enjoy it) that our parents could only dream of. We can even blow off our own abortion to pick up a stranger in a bar before accidentally smoking crack, while wearing a neon string vest if we really feel like it.

The voice of our generation need not be a deep, brooding one, broadcasting our general woe. If we let it, it could be something bright, fun and possibly even a little bit hopeful. And after all, just like the future, it's up to us.

 
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