Anger Abounds Over Lena Dunham’s Book Tour Acts Not Getting Paid

2 minute read

Lena Dunham has long advocated for struggling artists — publicly complaining about rising rents pushing the creative class out of Manhattan last year, for instance. So it was surprising to read in the New York Times that within Dunham’s “literary circus” or “roving Burning Man festival” of a book tour to promote her hot-off-the-presses Not That Kind of Girl, that the seven opening acts performing at her 11-city tour will be “performing free of charge.”

Not only that, but there was desperate competition for the unpaid gig:

Nearly 600 people responded to an open call for video auditions on her website, including a sand artist, a ukulele player, a cappella singers, gymnasts, performance artists and stand-up comics, even some exceptionally charismatic babies.

After Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan pointed out, however, that Dunham earns an estimated $6 million a year, with her book advance $3.6 million alone and her book tour revenue around $304,000 — people immediately took their furious indignation to Twitter. And the Twitter-firestorm Monday won, prompting Dunham to share the wealth.

Here’s how things went down. First, many people displayed anger at Dunham, personally, for not paying participating artists:

Others wondered why Dunham, rather than her publisher Random House, was getting the blame:

Some questioned fans’ needs to constantly defend the star:

Others were wary of people who take any opportunity to bash the polarizing figure:

At first, Dunham didn’t respond directly to the controversy. Although she did riff on a quasi-relevant Jay-Z lyric, so there’s that:

When she participated in an iBooks Twitter interview later Monday, she steered clear of questions related to the unpaid artists (she also evaded queries about the Bill Murray pajama top she was wearing).

Shortly thereafter, however, Dunham announced that the artists would now be financially rewarded for their service:

And then she bashed Gawker for good measure:

And that just about sums things up:

Random House did not respond to comment about the kerfuffle.

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