The Obama campaign released a sexy, controversial and hip pitch for voting on Thursday from Lena Dunham, the star and creator of the HBO show Girls, at a time when sex, abortion and women’s rights have been front and center on the campaign trail.
The Obama campaign has aggressively used YouTube to mobilize base voters, and it often taps celebrities who have a built-in viral punch. But this video is unusual even for the young, digital set in Chicago. The ad’s style is vintage Lena: edgy and informed, controversial but achingly self-aware, sexually proud and affirmatively feminist—if anyone can pull off an extended metaphor of voting for the president by giving him your virginity, it’s Lena Dunham.
While it’s safe to say that Dunham’s tone is different from every other ad the Obama campaign has ever made—she jokes about “doing it with” the president—it neatly reinforces the president’s closing argument about women’s rights.
Dunham riffs that “your first time” should be with “someone who cares whether you get health insurance, and specifically whether you get birth control.” On Thursday night, that someone launched an overtly feminist attack on Republicans. Riding Air Force One en route to campaign events, President Obama told NBC News that Republicans’ recent remarks on abortion show that “you don’t want politicians, the majority of them male, making a series of decisions about women’s healthcare issues.” While some might think the President is simply responding to incidents and press questions, the Obama campaign has been aggressively promoting his remarks, circulating a YouTube clip of the exchange to reporters under the headline, “Politicians Should Stay Out of Women’s Health Decisions.”
In the end, maybe Lena Dunham said it best: “You want to do it with a guy who brought the troops out of Iraq—you don’t want a guy who says, ‘Oh, hey, I’m at the library studying,’ when really he’s out not signing The Lilly Ledbetter Act.”