Schumer's comedy is also about women refusing to adhere to these standards, creating new ones in the wake of feminism and the #MeToo movement.
Amy Schumer, a female comedian known for parodying her body and promiscuous behavior during her standup performances and sketch-comedy show, Inside Amy Schumer, is everyone's favorite punching bag these days. A lot of people don't like Schumer, apparently. Why? If you were to study the trajectory of her career, I suppose the fall of Schumer would land somewhere between her two feature-length films Trainwreck (a moderately successful Hollywood offering) and Snatched a really bad comedy co-starring Goldie Hawn. In between her HBO and Netflix specials, Schumer's been in and out of headlines—some good and others problematic (like her parody video of Beyonce's "Formation"). She's been accused of stealing jokes, of being racist, and has received equally discouraging hate for her physical image. Her new film, I Feel Pretty, is out April 20th and already has a 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ironically, Schumer's brand heavily relies on her inadequacy as a picture-perfect actress. Schumer's shtick is that she's below-average and still repugnantly entitled. That's the joke. Most of her sketches on the Emmy-winning Inside Amy Schumer examine the smugness of white women, displaying a hilarious mentality that the world will and should accommodate her simply because she's breathing. Schumer has played with this trope in countless skits, playing an entitled girlfriend or love interest who associates her value and worth with the men she's able to seduce. Maybe she's played the part too well because her name, these days, is met with excessive hate. When Schumer is admonished for her brand of humor—fine, let her have it. But, oftentimes, her comedy is criticized in unison with her appearance, with the reality that she is indeed a woman who eats, swears, and drinks. There are countless male comedians who are a part of the same I'm-gross-entitled-lazy-and-unapologetically-fat brand, right? Many of these same men have been outed for abusing their power and influence in Hollywood. Those that find Amy Schumer unfunny are also bothered by her confidence, her autonomy, her drive and willingness to promote body positivity because women in entertainment still aren't respected as artists outside of their looks. How dare Schumer be unfunny and also not wear a size 0?
Inside Amy Schumer was mostly fascinated with this same phenomena: the ways women's bodies are compartmentalized and valued in society. Women must be forever young, thin, effortlessly beautiful but not too done-up, smart—but not too smart as to overwhelm our male counterparts—friendly and mysterious, wholesome and freaky, quiet and outspoken. Schumer's comedy is about how these contradictions—set forth through advertising, film, music, and TV—infiltrate our lives, and how women jump through hoops to maintain these standards. But Schumer's comedy is also about women refusing to adhere to these standards, creating new ones in the wake of feminism and the #MeToo movement. So, if you've grown tired of Amy Schumer talking about her lady parts, that's perfectly fine. But she has every right to make comedy out of wearing Spanx and tanning solution to red carpet events she attends. I mean, if you gotta suck it in, at least have some fun doing so, right?
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
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