People were joining in on that hashtag before they knew what Amy Schumer did – or if she even did anything except, you know, be Amy Schumer. When I looked up the hashtag on Sunday night, I had to scroll for a while before I realized that a) yes, Amy Schumer did something and b) for the love of sweet baby Blue Ivy, I wish I could un-see that something.
Amy Schumer thought it would be a good idea to “parody” Beyoncé’s Formation video. It is worse than it sounds. So much worse. I’m using “parody” loosely here because watching Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn and the rest of the female cast of whatever movie they are shooting in Hawaii gyrate around and attempt to twerk to Queen Bey’s lyrics was not funny. It was dumbfounding. I’m not sure I have never been more confused.
I said, “What is happening?” out loud to myself approximately every 7 seconds of that video. Formation is an anthem for black women that addresses police brutality and unapologetically celebrates black culture. In this clip, Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn are purposefully butchering choreography for the apparent punchline: “Look! We’re white women lip syncing to Beyoncé! It’s funny ‘cause we’re white!” They are also both wearing t-shirts that say “Texas Bama.” This is the line in Formation the shirts are referencing:
My daddy Alabama / Mama Louisiana / You mix that negro with that Creole / Make a Texas Bama
That term has serious racial connotations. Jesmyn Ward wrote beautifully about its history for NPR when Formation first dropped. In the song, Beyoncé proudly claimed her background as a badge of honour, instead of something to be ashamed of. Amy Schumer put it on a t-shirt and expected us to giggle.
In a climate where so few pieces of pop culture are made for and by black women, Lemonade feels uniquely our own. Personally, Lemonade means so much to me it’s hard to articulate. Lainey and I both wrote about its feminist and cultural importance when Beyoncé first gifted us with her masterpiece. All of this is why Amy Schumer’s dumb rip-off is so confounding. It’s unnecessary, unfunny and unoriginal.
I don’t give a sh-t if Wanda Sykes and another black woman are in the video. I have no idea what Wanda is doing there. I want to call up Wanda and ask her what in the hell she was thinking. I may be projecting here but I’d like to think that maybe Wanda felt like she couldn’t say no to this since she had to go to work with these people the next day. Whatever the reason, Amy Schumer does not get a pass because Wanda Sykes decided to play along with her bullsh-t “spoof” video.
Since Twitter came hard for her, Amy had no choice but to respond.
You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation. Thanks for the exclusive release Tidal! We had so much fun making this tribute. All love and women inspiring each other.#strongertogether
Oh yeah, this steaming pile of crap they are calling a “tribute” was EXCLUSIVELY RELEASED ON TIDAL. I’m going to come back to Amy’s response but can we talk about this Tidal release for a second? Jay Z is a part owner and the face of the streaming service. Lemonade was exclusively released on Tidal. If this was a Tidal exclusive, the assumption is that Mr. or Mrs. Carter, or both, approved the video. If Beyoncé saw even one frame of Amy Schumer’s Formation and thought it was suitable for public consumption, it will be the first time I have seriously questioned our Queen’s judgment. If Beyoncé approved this crap, I don’t understand life. If someone else at Tidal approved it without consulting her, they are already fired.
So, Amy Schumer decided to address the firestorm of criticism she is receiving for the video by posting a partially nude shot of herself, quoting Beyoncé AGAIN, and saying, “All love and women inspiring each other. #strongertogether”
Here’s the problem with Amy’s flippant response and her attempt to fall back on feminism and togetherness in defense of her video. She doesn’t have a great track record for standing up for women. She’s been dragged for racially insensitive jokes. She’s also a white woman who enjoys the privileges that come with that title every day of her life. She can’t pick and choose when being “together” suits her. Amy Schumer doesn’t get to use black women for her jokes without any awareness of appropriation or without taking ownership of her thoughtless, problematic actions.
Listen, I’m not saying Lemonade’s significance means it’s untouchable. SNL did a hilarious sketch called Melanianade parodying Sorry that I loved. The difference is that skit was actually a thoughtful political satire making a feminist statement. And it was done well. As Lainey wrote, you can’t, “borrow from Beysus and make it weak.”
My point: I’m rolling up to the #AmySchumerGottaGoParty like this: