I saw the hashtag #AmySchumerGottaGoParty pop up in my Twitter feed yesterday. It was started by Feminista Jones, who posted a short video of herself reacting to Schumer’s parody of Beyonce’s “Formation,” which, if you didn’t know, was a huge event when it came out, generating countless think pieces and becoming an instant phenomenon. Within minutes, Black Twitter was popping with negative reaction to Schumer (yes, there is such a thing as Black Twitter. It’s a free education in white supremacy, go learn).
On Twitter, I watched in “oh my god she ditint” disbelief grainy footage of Amy Schumer tossing sweaty, crimped hair and trying to twerk. It was painfully unfunny. I have been a huge fan of Schumer’s for a long time. I have watched her career with a sense of personal investment like that old female relative who sees you once in awhile, but cups your face in her hand when you’re leaving the family gathering and says, “I’ve got my eye on you. You. You’re a little something.” Then she shakes her finger at your parents. “This one. Quite a something.” And they smile and say, “Yes, yes she is.”
I think Amy Schumer is quite a something, and now I’m shaking my finger at her, because she has made too many really stupid decisions lately.
There is no way that it’s time for anyone to parody “Formation.” We’re still in the bad, ugly, evil thick of the reason it got made in the first place. I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time for a white artist to parody “Formation.” I’m aware that Beyonce and Jay-Z gave their permission, but permission isn’t endorsement. For all we know, Beyonce and Jay-Z are laughing their heads off now saying to each other, “Yep. Look at all this backlash. Pass the hot sauce.”
I get it: comics are irreverent. Comics know that sacred cows make the best burgers. Amy Schumer is great at cooking up those burgers. She usually knows exactly what she’s doing in sending up pop culture. This time, she was appears to have been either too lazy or too entitled to consider the implications of reducing Beyonce’s “Formation” to a fun, sexy twerkathon. The video not a dance party, did she miss the drowning police car at the end, or was it more convenient to ignore that and all the other references to police brutality against African Americans? Watching Schumer enact her drunk-white-girl schtick to its phrases set off air raid sirens of White Lady Cluelessness in my head.
When Roseanne Barr sang the national anthem off key while grabbing her crotch, a lot of us thought it was tacky and ineffective as comedy or political commentary, but since the national anthem belongs to all Americans, it’s fair game for all Americans to parody. Everyone can comment on it, protest it, kneel during it, adore, abhor or ignore it. It’s our shared song.
Not all songs belong to everybody, and some songs quite obviously belong to a particular group. When that group is an oppressed, traumatized minority and that song is an anthem of strength, power and resilience, it’s a monumentally insensitive and ignorant decision for someone outside that group to appropriate it for yuks.
To those who argued that Black women are in Amy Schumer’s video, it’s not for me to speak to that. This is what Feminista Jones said [please click on images to enlarge them]:
But freedom of speech! Yea, I know. I’ve heard of that. Artistic freedom and — and — and the comic’s subversive role in society! Yea, I’ve heard all about that, too. I’ve heard it from the boys who defend rape jokes and from Schumer’s white friends like Lena Dunham who pulled a grotesque, racist blooper fairly recently (during an interview with Schumer) by publicly accusing Odell Beckham, Jr. of being a misogynist for not giving her the attention she felt she deserved at the Met Gala. When she finally issued an apology to Mr. Beckham (who had never spoken to her and had no idea who she was), she qualified its sincerity by tweeting to her bud, “Glad the outrage machine roars on though, right?” Oh, okay, Mayella Ewell. Please go study some history and learn about what has happened to black men in America who were accused of paying too much attention to/not enough attention to/not enough respect to white ma’ams. And stop grinding on hot black men you don’t know and bragging about it. Your joke about “grinding on” Michael B. Jordan is super gross on too many levels to go into, but no one should have to explain it to you.
Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham’s shenanigans are Exhibit Z in a very long history of why black women so often leave the “feminism” room in disgust. Feminism isn’t just about how men treat women but how women treat other women. Who high-fived the “Formation” parody in the writer’s room, I wonder? I wonder who is in that writer’s room in the first place. There are so many other iconic videos Schumer could have parodied.
So I fired off a few furious tweets.
Amy Schumer is dead to me.
I was a HUGE Fan of @AmySchumer until she enrolled in the Lena Dunham Academy for Insufferable White Women.
God knows I’m hyperbolic, but I totally don’t wish that so I deleted that Tweet and edited the last line to read,
“I hope this hurts her career.”
My tweet got picked up by some internet news websites and appeared in on a television clip somewhere. Cue the trolls.
Now, this “Formation” parody backlash happened mere days after Schumer insulted Donald Trump at her show in Tampa, Florida, causing 200 or so audience members to walk out. She had just published an open letter in response, which was likely to be appreciated by the Trumpsters just as much as her original comments. The letter is more peevish than funny and she sounds tired and fed up, but the ultimate burn is that she got these people’s ticket money.
The actually, genuinely funny thing that happened next was that the same Trump fans types who were dragging Amy Schumer for criticizing their Cheetoh-In-Chief lined up on my twitter feed to defend her! That’s how much integrity and moral clarity these people have. Unfortunately, almost every one of these doofuses copied Schumer on their Tweets to me, so her mentions have been full of “@peacebang.” Sorry, girl!
Lots of eggs, lots of guys with guns in their avis, all the usual drama queen who twist every comment into a Wolf Blitzer-level Situation. That’s what trolls do.