Well, this is a weird turn. We had heard a couple months back that Lena Dunham would have a role in the upcoming clowns-and-Trump smorgasbord of American Horror Story’s seventh season. Now we know who she’s playing: Valerie Solanas, a feminist writer and actress who shot Andy Warhol in 1968.
The information comes from last night’s FX premiere screening of the new season’s first three episodes. Entertainment Weekly’s dispatch from the event contains a lot of information about the upcoming series, including Dunham’s odd historical turn. For the non-history buffs in the room, let me explain: in 1967, Valerie Solanas, a denizen of New York City, published the SCUM Manifesto, a legendary incendiary radical feminist text which exhorted its readers to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex.” The next year, after Andy Warhol declined to produce a play she wrote, Solanas went to his studio and shot him, along with art critic Mario Amaya. (Both survived.) After her arrest, Solanas was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was sentenced to three years in prison, briefly flirting with the mainstream feminist movement upon her release before fading into obscurity.
Talking to EW, showrunner Ryan Murphy tied her crime to the cult of personality around Warhol, and thus to the themes of the season. “She felt denied the cult of personality that was Warhol and the Factory at the time,” he said. Warhol himself will be played by series regular Evan Peters, who will embody a number of cult leaders throughout the season, including Charles Manson, along with his turn as the famed artist.
I’m not sure I entirely agree with Murphy’s read of Solanas’s actions, but I’m fascinated in seeing the results anyway. You can never accuse Murphy of not being ostentatious. What do you think? I’m torn: this is either weird stunt casting, or it’s brilliant.
Either way, American Horror Story: Cult hits FX on September 5th.