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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Doppelganger

This is Lena Dunham, the creative genius behind HBO's hit TV show "Girls."


Screenshot via Business Insider"How Lena Dunham Went From Unknown Filmmaker To TV Star In Less Than A Year"

This is my niece Yaffa.


Screenshot via The Billfold, "Setting The Record Straight"

Yaffa and Lena are both writers, both Jewish, both in their twenties, both New Yorkers, and both love food.

I had no idea who Lena was when I read the following in Yaffa's blog, "Living on a Latte and a Prayer," August 8, 2012:
I had the fortune of meeting a Nora Ephron disciple, a.k.a. my doppleganger, a.k.a. Lena Dunham there a few short weeks ago, and well, cliche as it may be, my life has never been the same.
And then for some reason I decided to buy the first season of "Girls" on HBO, because there was just nothing to watch on TV.

As I watched I could not watch. Because there was Yaffa, my niece. No it was Lena. They didn't just look alike. They were freakishly alike. So I tweeted, on Jan. 15:


At the time I did not know that an article had appeared on Jan. 13 in the New York Times, "The Unaffordable Luxury of Food," in which Yaffa had been interviewed. Supposedly it was about what it's like to be a footloose and fancy-free millennial in New York who likes food.

If you read between the lines though it was not just a profile but rather a pretty nasty slam at the "Girls" generation, using Yaffa as the stand-in for Lena. Writes Ginia Bellafante:
Every generation of young New Yorker finds its own way to squander its meager earnings, and this one seems content to spend the money it makes on expensive, curated food with little sense that it is really squandering anything at all.
I happened upon the article by stumbling upon Newsle, which tracks your friends' mentions in the news (I just started browsing it, so not totally clear to me yet.)

Newsle actually took me to Yaffa's rebuttal of the piece, which appeared in Billfold, an online magazine. There, she breaks down her spending bit by bit, demonstrating clearly what I knew all along about her: There is probably no twentysomething on this earth more responsible than Yaffa. Who works not one, not two, but three jobs to pay her own way.

(And if you have ever spent any time in New York you know that food is extremely expensive. Even a bottle of water runs you $2.50.)

I thought Yaffa's strategy was totally brilliant. Not only did she turn around a seemingly negative story, but this relatively unknown young woman managed to make the Times look foolish, petty and irrelevant.

Here are some of the Tweets that came out in support of Yaffa after the article ran:


The bottom line lessons for me from this whole thing:

1. When you're young, it's better to be notorious than unknown.

2. The moment you're under the microscope is the best time to turn it around into a spotlight.

3. The best way to defend yourself is simply to lay out the facts wholesale.

4. There is a certain advantage to playing David against the Goliath.

5. It is entirely possible to become famous for something completely irrelevant and accidental as versus your own hard work and uniqueness.

Congrats to Yaffa for a job well done - she really taught me something with this one.