The younger generation isn’t lazy or unmotivated. It just needs a strong voice to follow. And when they find one, millennials rally en masse.
Case in point: Lena Dunham, who will read tonight from her new book, “Not That Kind of Girl,” at New York City’s Union Square Barnes & Noble. The store doesn’t open until 10 a.m., but by 7:30 a.m. around 50 people — mostly millennials — had already lined up for the chance to hear Dunham.
“She’s becoming such an important voice,” Nicholas Goodly, 22, said. “She’s a very self-aware artist. She knows what her background means.”
Goodly and Nathan Osorio, 23, got to the book store at 5:30 a.m. to line up for Dunham’s book reading.
“I think she’s an interesting millennial,” Osorio said. “She’s polarizing too.”
For Osorio, the ways in which he can’t relate to her make her most interesting—i.e., the female experience and living privilege in New York. “It’s so distant for me,” he said.
While they weren’t the only men in line, Goodly and Osorio certainly were outnumbered by women.
Rachel Barbato, 25, got to the store around 7 a.m. after coming all the way from New Hampshire. After being denied access to Dunham at previous appearances in Brooklyn and Boston, Barbato was hoping the Union Square reading would be her lucky shot.
It was hard for young adults to be taken seriously before Dunham’s work, Barbato said, adding that Dunham’s eloquence, at least for her, really captures the millennial life.
Still, Dunham hasn’t escaped controversy in recent days. She’s come under fire recently after it was revealed she wasn’t paying her opening acts on her rather expensive book tour, TIME reported Monday. (She’s since changed her stance, promising to pay them after all.)
But the criticism hasn’t seemed to shake her loyal fans. Kate Baer, 29, left Pennsylvania at 2:45 a.m. to get in line for Dunham’s appearance.
“We just really love her,” Baer, also a writer, said, sitting with a group of two other girlfriends. “She’s an inspirational female comedy writer.”
When asked what she loves so much about Dunham, the highest compliment Baer offered was “her realness.”
For Baer, “the truths that [Dunham’s] trying to say” have vaulted her into such a de facto millennial spokesperson. “You’re comfortable with her,” Goodly said, “more readily than other artists.”
Abby Rogers is a feminist who is completely content being a crazy cat lady. She reads everything, but only in real book form — no e-readers thank you very much.