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Is Sushi Cultural Appropriation? Lena Dunham Says Yes

Is Sushi Cultural Appropriation? Lena Dunham Says Yes

‘Girls’ creator sides with Oberlin students who say offerings like bahn mi and General Tso’s chicken are culturally insensitive.

Lena Dunham is on a roll. The star and creator of HBO’s hit comedy, “Girls,” Dunham has reached that enviable stage as a celebrity where almost anything that comes out of her mouth makes headlines. Her most recent attention grabbing statement: Sushi served in dining halls are an example of cultural appropriation and disrespectful to Japanese cuisine.

The Jewish comedian criticized the media for their bewildered response to the students at her alma mater, Oberlin College, who raised issue last fall.

“There are now big conversations at Oberlin,” Dunham told Food and Wine magazine “about cultural appropriation and whether the dining hall sushi and banh mi disrespect certain cuisines. The press reported it as, ‘How crazy are Oberlin kids?’ But to me, it was actually, ‘Right on,’” Dunham said.

The conversations Dunham was referring to began after a November article in the Oberlin Review interviewed students who took umbrage with the food offerings in the campus dining hall, which, in addition to appropriating Vietnamese and Japanese culture, also was disrespectful to Chinese culture in the form of its General Tso’s chicken. Students said the offerings were “blurring the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation,” by adapting and manipulating traditional Asian recipes.

Dunham’s backing of claims that “sushi” qualifies as cultural appropriation is another example her “no holds barred” approach to sharing her views with the world. The Brooklyn native has been highlighted in the media recently for wanting to remove guns from movie posters promoting Jason Bourne films, her endorsement of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and calling out a Kanye West video as “disturbing.” And it was just over a year ago that Dunham caught flack in Jewish circles for a New Yorker humor piece she wrote titled “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz.” Given the 30-year-old’s stance on sushi, perhaps we can expect an updated version of the quiz; “American Late-Night Staple or Cultural Appropriation?”

If the Dunham’s bosses at HBO are adherents to the philosophy that “all press is good press,” then they should appreciate all the attention Dunham is getting heading into the sixth and final season of “Girls,” which will premiere on HBO in 2017.

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