Amy Schumer isn't calling her Formation video a "parody." Great. I was refusing to call it a parody anyway. My choice of words for it was "steaming pile of crap." In a post on Medium called Information about my 'Formation' (I just can't even), Amy explains why she made the video and addresses the backlash it received.
“I love how in the lyrics of “Formation” Beyoncé is telling us to get in formation. And also I like to think she is telling us ladies to get information. I did not mean to detract any of the meaning from the video.”
"Formation" and "information" are similar words and they rhyme. Get it? WE GET IT. If this is the calibre of writing in Amy's book, my sympathies go out to all of you who read it. Amy distinguishes here between the lyrics of Beyoncé’s Formation and the video. Throughout her post, she continually refers to “the video” and how important “the video” is and how she is “horrified and sickened by the events that are addressed throughout that video” and that she didn’t mean to “minimize” its importance. The way Amy’s post is written, it seems like she thinks people only took issue with the fact that Beyoncé’s Formation music video addresses police brutality and that’s where the problem ends. Yes, the politics of Beyoncé’s video is part of the issue but the criticism of her tribute or whatever is far more nuanced.
Amy writes that Lemonade meant a lot to the female staff of that movie they shot in Hawaii. Of course white women are allowed to love Lemonade. Of course white women are allowed to be empowered by it and dance along to it. But I take offense to white women twerking along to lyrics they clearly haven’t taken a moment to think about. I take issue with Amy and another cast member wearing "Texas Bama" t-shirts and lip-synching the word "negro." This particular Beyoncé song and video are not for them. The women of colour in Schumer’s video are in the background and used as glorified props. We’ve written on this site a lot about intersectionality and how mainstream feminism has continually excluded women of colour, particularly black women. When Amy writes that the video was “just us women celebrating each other” she’s ignoring the inequalities that exist between the women she’s attempting to celebrate.
It's nice that the cast and crew of this movie are made up of women who liked working together and love Beyoncé but here's my other problem: why release this "tribute" to the public? If Schumer herself isn't making money from YouTube views, however that works, than this is at least an early promotional tool for that Hawaii move whose name I refuse to look up. So, Schumer is going to profit – in one way or another—from this video. Speaking of profit, let's address the Beyoncé and Jay Z’s approval. The video was exclusive to Tidal for the first 24 hours of its release. Amy writes that “of course” she had their approval. I still don’t understand it. Maybe Beyoncé was flattered because Schumer is a fan? Or maybe, as my friend Denise suggested, Bey and Jay wanted some of that profit? Maybe they thought, “Well, she’s going to release it any way, we might as well get some love for Tidal.”
I know some of you are going to tweet or email me that we’re taking this whole thing too seriously. You’ll say, “Let Amy live! Just let her dance to Beysus in peace!” I refuse to let privileged people in power get away with doing dumb, insensitive sh-t. I’m sorry if I want to hold accountable someone who preaches feminism and female empowerment to a higher standard.
When I read Amy Schumer's non-apology I went back to Lena Dunham's Breakfast Club interview. In that interview, Lena owns up to a lot of the backlash she has faced in her career. She gave thoughtful and sensitive responses to her past lack of awareness and the racially insensitive things she has said and done. She straight up owned how dumb her comments about Odell Beckham Jr. were. (Those comments were made to a laughing Amy Schumer by the way. Amy is like the Where's Waldo of problematic sh-t. Something offensive happened? Quick, where's Amy Schumer!)
Anyway, when I wrote about Lena I mentioned how no one can be right all the time. Amy Schumer's tribute or "all love" celebration of women or whatever the f-ck was wrong. I can’t imagine Amy giving a similarly enlightened interview or showing any sense of self-awareness. In her Medium post, she writes, “If you watched it and it made you feel anything other than good, please know that was not my intention.” To me, Amy Schumer’s intentions aren't important. A lot of prejudice is unintentional. Amy may not have been trying to offend black women or make a mockery of Beyoncé’s message but the fact is that she did. Black women, black feminists, were offended. Instead of trying to understand what she did wrong, Amy has deflected any blame and responded with a half-ass, weak-ass defense. And her complete lack of remorse or understanding is the scariest part. She ends her post with her take on the classic “I’m sorry if you were offended.”
You have every right to feel however you feel about the video and me but I want you to know I’m not going anywhere. Use whatever hashtag you like.
I can't speak for everyone who used the #AmySchumerGottaGoParty hashtag but for me, it was a joke that was also meant as a wake-up call for a woman who desperately needs to check her privilege. Amy Schumer is going to be fine. We all know this. She isn't over. And honestly, I don't know if I want her to be over completely. I like that she's a female comedian and I can get down with a lot of what she attempts to stand for. I liked Trainwreck. But if Amy Schumer isn't going anywhere, I wish she would take some more time to think about what she’s putting out into the world and actually LISTEN to her criticism.