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On Being One's Own Fairy Godmother
May 3, 2014 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Amy Schumer's tale of courage, sex and self-worth as told at the Ms. Foundation Gala. "I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it."
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto (60 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also: MeFi thread on Gabourey Sidibe's speech from the same gala
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 4:04 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


!
posted by oddman at 4:15 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


Loved her already; this made me love her more.
posted by The Gooch at 4:15 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Is there video of the talk? The text is good, but it would be interesting to hear how she performed it.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:20 PM on May 3


There is some hilarity, for me, in the fact that this woman apparently experiences her life as one of abnormal, invisible fatness and homeliness while still being thin, blond and white. I'm not sure if this is because she's had a run of bad luck, lives in a really weird part of the world or has an unrealistic sense of how she is perceived.
posted by Frowner at 4:23 PM on May 3 [14 favorites]


It's not that surprising. It says more about our culture than it does about her.
posted by bleep at 4:25 PM on May 3 [36 favorites]


I'm not sure that's there's much value in deciding how realistic her sense of how she's perceived is. It's her sense, and hearing that is worthwhile, whether you think she's thin or not.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:26 PM on May 3 [12 favorites]


At least Amy didn't have staff writer Kurt Metzger write this speech. It's great that Amy employs some genuinely funny and insightful female writers, but then there's this idiot.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:36 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I got all excited when Amy Schumer's show started because everyone said it was all feminist and awesome, and I saw it and she thinks racism is hilarious. Racist jokes are yay! It's really disappointing whenever I see friends post clips of hers or talk about how her show is so hilars.
posted by sweetkid at 4:40 PM on May 3 [6 favorites]


Frowner: I find it reassuring to discover that the line about beautiful/rich/smart/talented people being "just as insecure as you" can actually be true.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:42 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Frowner: There is some hilarity, for me, in the fact that this woman apparently experiences her life as one of abnormal, invisible fatness and homeliness while still being thin, blond and white. I'm not sure if this is because she's had a run of bad luck, lives in a really weird part of the world or has an unrealistic sense of how she is perceived.

Well, she says she used to weigh more, so that accounts for that end of it. And now that she's in the entertainment world, which is well-known for demanding extreme body types of all kinds, it doesn't surprise me that she could still feel that way sometimes. I don't know if it's my place to judge, but I wouldn't call her "thin" now, but I wouldn't say she's fat either. Either way I hope it's a healthy and happy figure for her.
posted by JauntyFedora at 5:00 PM on May 3


Grantland had an interesting article on Schumer earlier this week, which is mostly positive, but does address some of the criticisms made about her in this thread.
posted by The Gooch at 5:07 PM on May 3


Let's not forget, there was likely a guy that felt the same about Amy, but she couldn't see him because she was looking at and fantasizing about Mr von Trapp. It's not just that she didn't have confidence, she had an unhealthy mindset, which she seems to have fixed, but it's not just about self-worth and confidence.
posted by e40 at 5:17 PM on May 3


This season she did a riff about sexy Latinas that came off as extremely ignorant, and a joke about the personal hygiene of Indian men was particularly tone-deaf. The racial humor is Schumer’s least subversive quality, and directly echoes the same awful white-bro status quo that is being mocked in the focus group sketch.

Inside Amy Schumer is best when its targets deserve to have tomatoes lobbed at them. The foibles of yuppie women in New York — long boozy brunches, fancy expensive gyms, the thinly veiled competitiveness among the city’s packs of ambitious, sexually voracious women who are all trying to level up in life — it’s the same world being riffed on in Sex & the City, Broad City, and Girls, but Amy’s take has the most obvious teeth.


Wait, would the yuppies be ok to mock if they weren't white, i'm not sure what is going on here.
posted by efalk at 5:17 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


The thing is, I have no doubt that she does experience feeling-bad-about-her-body, etc. I have no doubt that she gets the usual shit that women in media get, and that this is tough.

At the same time, there's something weird about the colonization of the "I'm going to live my life despite my imperfections" genre of speech by women who basically meet the beauty standard, who are already pretty much at the very top. It's like getting applauded for giving a pep talk to the 5% about how they shouldn't feel broke just because they aren't the 1%.

I personally don't find it, like, heartening or inspiring - because I know that the kind of life that is available to thin blond young white women was never, ever on the table for me no matter how good I felt about myself. It feels very "there's pie in the sky when you die so don't cry" - like I am supposed to ignore the actual material conditions that create hierarchies and just get my head right and that will solve all my problems.

It's difficult to say this without coming across as "she must be a terrible person and her problems must be fake" - I'm sure she's not and I'm sure she's been just as hurt as anybody else by this kind of shit. And I know she has to be on top of her game to succeed as she has.
posted by Frowner at 5:23 PM on May 3 [26 favorites]


on the thin/white/blond thing - i don't find it at all hard to believe that she's gotten pressure on her weight. she's the kind of woman who looks like she eats bread which makes her a fair bit larger than a lot of the women in entertainment. as a comic she has some leeway - but i'm betting she's still asked why she can't be more the size of amy poehler or iliza shlesinger. i mean, joan rivers told lena dunham she was unhealthy for girls to see because they'd think it was ok to be that fat - and dunham isn't even heavy, but she's unacceptable to many in the job she's in.


and I saw it and she thinks racism is hilarious.

same. i actually just watched an episode a couple of days ago for the first time because everyone is saying it's the most bitingly feminist show on tv - but i found it hard to get past the bursts of racism.


Wait, would the yuppies be ok to mock if they weren't white,

sure, as long as she was mocking their yuppiness and not their race - that's the difference with her racist jokes, they all come off as the easiest joke in the bag - hispanic men are rapists, indians smell bad, latinas are sassy sexy finger snappers - that's not subverting anything, that's just being racist. i know tons of non-white yuppies, the things that are mockable about them are the yuppie parts, not the color of their skin.
posted by nadawi at 5:25 PM on May 3 [11 favorites]


Wait, would the yuppies be ok to mock if they weren't white, i'm not sure what is going on here.

I think it's their yuppie-ness that's being mocked, which is constituted both by socio-economic and racial factors, but whose risibility in this case seems to come from the former; making fun of Latinas for being inherently sexy or hot or whatever as an essential trait emerging from their Latin-ness, or making fun of Indian men for being smelly or dirty in some way that emanates from being Indian, is different than making fun of well-off people for being absurdly entitled and privileged.

On preview: as nadawi says.
posted by clockzero at 5:26 PM on May 3


Here's the really horrible thing. I know literally dozens of people that would consider her to be fat. Mind you, most of these men (and women!) are fat themselves. I happen to know one cabbie that was a good 100lbs overweight that had a tattoo (!) that read "no fat chicks". Personally I think she is pretty hot. But really, body image is quite personal, and for many, if they see people wearing x size, and they are wearing x+4, well you don't feel so good.

Many people I know have remarked about her chin, much like people did with Leno.

I'm not saying it's right, but really, if we're going to say someone doesn't / shouldn't talk about feeling fat, or unattractive, what are we saying? "I feel worse than you do so you have no right to feel the same things I do" ?
posted by efalk at 5:31 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


It's funny that the conversation has moved onto Amy Schumer's physical attributes and whether she is/is not "attractive" in our society, instead of the message of her speech, which is that her worth is not defined by her appearance.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 5:35 PM on May 3 [31 favorites]


i edited my comment a bunch and the thing that didn't make it back in there somehow is that i don't share the views on her size that women like joan rivers tries to enforce around her. i'm a very tall woman with big bone structure and at my anorexic thinnest, i was a size 8, barely. women like her and i can't get rail thin no matter what we do, but the world around us still tells us we're fat - and then other people tell us we don't understand being fat because we're tall and "carry it well" (something i've heard a lot). and yeah, it all gets in the way of her actual message which is it shouldn't matter how we or others see our attractiveness - that's not what should make worth.

on that same train of thought, doutzen kroes, a model, said recently about the daughter she's pregnant with : "Instead of saying, 'You're so beautiful,' I'll say, 'You're smart,' so she'll have different aspirations in life than beauty and modelling. Though I love my job, I'm not changing the world. I'd love for her to study and to have different aspirations. We need to teach girls they can become presidents, and it's not about beauty all the time."
posted by nadawi at 5:47 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]


I don't wish to disparage her words, or her lived experiences, or say a thing about her appearance, but:

1. As a comedienne, she's fucking garbage. She delivers like a high school student reading off of index-cards, and it's all "LOLSOEDGY" "shocking" bullshit: "Soo, yesterday... blah blah... blah blah... MOLESTATION."

2. Given the way that she's been spammed all over Comedy Central from completely out of nowhere (alone with Anthony Jezelnik), I get the feeling her career wasn't the same struggle as Leslie Jones or Mike Birbiglia.

2a. For the sake of fairness, these criticisms and more can also be leveled at fellow 'must-be-somebody's-kid" Anthony Jezelnik.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:57 PM on May 3 [4 favorites]


as a comedian, a lot of people like her. taste is such a personal thing and pretty hard to unequivocally say someone sucks, especially with someone who has been working for a decade. she's not to your taste, but that's a different type of statement.
posted by nadawi at 6:13 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


It's funny that the conversation has moved onto Amy Schumer's physical attributes and whether she is/is not "attractive" in our society, instead of the message of her speech, which is that her worth is not defined by her appearance.

If that's the message of what she was saying, it didn't come across that way to me at all. I don't know, I'm with everyone else who sort of disliked this. There's something disingenuous about it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:23 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I think the speech was in large part about realizing that male attention isn't what makes someone interesting or worthy, and it's not worth putting up with a bunch of bullshit for. There are a lot of a lot of questions on ask metafilter that boil down to that.
posted by bleep at 6:41 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


bleep, that's possible, and I have never seen the show, but her show's ads appeal directly to male admirers and male attention. I guess that's Hollywood, but it's also her persona.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:45 PM on May 3


...she's the kind of woman who looks like she eats bread...

I think I will use that for describing large people. Dave's the guy of guy that eats bread. Jenny is the kind of woman that eats bread. I'm the kind of guy that eats bread.
posted by birdherder at 6:51 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


I don't think her show is like that. If anything she spends a lot of time making fun of dudes. I enjoy her show. I've only seen the first episode of this season but previous seasons I don't remember any racist stuff either and I really hate stereotype humor.
posted by bleep at 7:03 PM on May 3


fwiw, i didn't mean it to describe large people - just normal people.
posted by nadawi at 7:25 PM on May 3


...she's the kind of woman who looks like she eats bread...

From my very slight exposure to show business, I think that could be truncated to ...she's the kind of woman who looks like she eats...

The extent of body shaming in celebrity culture never fails to astound me.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:43 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


I love her piece in The Hairpin on cold turkeying Ambien for a trip do Dubai. Wait for “If any of this stuff offends you don’t worry, I’m Emirati.”
posted by apricot at 8:26 PM on May 3


I do not know squat about this chick's humor (not sure I wanna after this post), but I'm sure that every single freaking day she's working in Hollywood, someone is telling her that she's ugly and a fat cow and needs to lose 20 more pounds and get surgery. Even if she's a natural blonde and not fat by normal person standards. That's probably where she's coming from mentally.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:49 PM on May 3 [7 favorites]


bleep, that's possible, and I have never seen the show, but her show's ads appeal directly to male admirers and male attention. I guess that's Hollywood, but it's also her persona.

I've never even watched her show, but I have heard her interviewed and she explains herself pretty directly - the titillating nature of her material draws in an audience but then she can lead them to her real point
posted by atoxyl at 2:31 AM on May 4


Having a woman in my life who suffers from many of the same insecurities as Shumer, I know from up-close experience that not everyone can so easily make the successful turn she appears to have made. Her speech is not a call to action for others similarly positioned nor is it a voice of inspiration calling out from the promised land. All she does is share her personal journey which is nice and all but I don't think it's of much value to anyone else. She clearly had the raw self-confidence inside her already and just needed the right motivation to loose it. There are women, however, who can never find that self-confidence no matter how many Matts they may encounter. Some marry those Matts and are forever trapped in a confused world where their lives and self-worth are permanently defined by others.
posted by Jamesonian at 4:02 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


I liked the speech, and I like her, and she's been working at this for easily more than a decade, so it's not like her show just landed in her lap.

I wish I was more surprised that there is commentary here that really comes across as saying she's too attractive to give a speech detailing how she overcame her lack of self-confidence. It's this 'she doesn't know struggle, so where does she get off talking about her difficulties?' perspective that I find quite poisonous, and also a natural outcome of privilege policing.

There is some hilarity, for me, in the fact that this woman apparently experiences her life as one of abnormal, invisible fatness and homeliness while still being thin, blond and white.

Which comes across very much as saying that she shouldn't talk about having body issues (even though she explicitly stated she was at least 30 pounds heavier in the story) or feeling ugly because as someone you regard as being conventionally pretty, she doesn't have the right to have those feelings. Which reminds me of a friend of mine who is always genuinely surprised when a pretty person talks about having problems, because she thinks beautiful people are somehow this class of person who don't have a care in the world. That is an inconsiderate and, frankly, stupid perspective.
posted by gadge emeritus at 4:39 AM on May 4 [8 favorites]


Yeah, sorry Frowner you're usually on point about this stuff but that comment was a low blow. This is a great piece of purely positive, inspiring story telling.

Meanwhile, this: "Let's not forget, there was likely a guy that felt the same about Amy, but she couldn't see him because she was looking at and fantasizing about Mr von Trapp. It's not just that she didn't have confidence, she had an unhealthy mindset, which she seems to have fixed, but it's not just about self-worth and confidence."

...Is so amazing. How someone managed to put Not All Men, Nice Guy Syndrome and "It's her fault for loving attractive assholes" into merely 2 sentences is truly a feat for the ages.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:59 AM on May 4 [18 favorites]


Inside Amy Schumer is best when its targets deserve to have tomatoes lobbed at them.

And I will tell you who deserves the lobbing of tomatoes! Sit still for Two Minutes Hate!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:46 AM on May 4


At the risk of piling on, having slept on it, I also find the attitude of (paraphrasing) "Schumer is white, pretty and there are women out there a lot fatter than her; how dare she attempt to make an 'inspiring' speech about overcoming crippling insecurities" to be really toxic. I'm never quite sure what is supposed to be gained as the end result of these sort of "You think *YOU* have it bad, try being _______" Oppression Olympics.

I find this mindset really depressing because it illustrates how incredibly easy it is to wave off someone's worst struggle if you determine that it hasn't met your personal, arbitrary criteria for "deserves my sympathy". Sure, it's easy to laugh off in a case like this when we are talking about a rich, white celebrity, but the philosophy behind this way of thinking also explains why it is so frequently a challenge to get people to empathize with anyone who doesn't look, think or behave exactly as themselves.
posted by The Gooch at 7:26 AM on May 4 [11 favorites]


There is some hilarity, for me, in the fact that this woman apparently experiences her life as one of abnormal, invisible fatness and homeliness while still being thin, blond and white. I'm not sure if this is because she's had a run of bad luck, lives in a really weird part of the world or has an unrealistic sense of how she is perceived.

I'm a white woman, although I am not naturally blonde. A few years ago I was cleaning out some drawers and found a photograph of a beautiful, thin young woman who looked to be in her mid-20s. It took me a few moments before I recognized her, but then I realized it was me. It was the first time in my life I saw that beautiful, thin 20-something young woman looking back at me. I cried hard that day.

I don't know which is worse: the shameful "hilarity" you find in the pain she is opening up about; that you think that certain groups of people could only feel bad about themselves because of "bad luck" or "living in a really weird part of the world"; or the ignorant belief that all blonde, white women are universally perceived -- and perceive themselves -- in the same way.

The thing is, I have no doubt that she does experience feeling-bad-about-her-body, etc. I have no doubt that she gets the usual shit that women in media get, and that this is tough.

While it's very generous of you to allow that she feels her feelings, it's dismissive (and telling) that you also try to qualify them as a result of her industry, as she couldn't feel that way as a scientist, or a chef, or a stay-at-home mom.

At the same time, there's something weird about the colonization of the "I'm going to live my life despite my imperfections" genre of speech by women who basically meet the beauty standard, who are already pretty much at the very top. It's like getting applauded for giving a pep talk to the 5% about how they shouldn't feel broke just because they aren't the 1%.

Are you actually trying to equate mental state, feelings, emotions, and self-esteem with something as quantifiable as net worth? In TFA she says
I wrote an article for Men's Health and was so proud, until I saw instead of using my photo, they used one of a 16-year-old model wearing a clown nose, to show that she's hilarious. But those are my words. What about who I am, and what I have to say?
But go ahead, keep piling on, she obviously hasn't gotten the message. Wait, what was the message again?

It's difficult to say this without coming across as "she must be a terrible person and her problems must be fake"

No, I think another poster nailed it when they asked
if we're going to say someone doesn't / shouldn't talk about feeling fat, or unattractive, what are we saying? "I feel worse than you do so you have no right to feel the same things I do" ?
And yes, you did say, "this woman apparently experiences her life..." Emphasis mine.

You know, I wrote this yesterday and was going to ask the mods to post this anonymously because I didn't think I could bring myself to attach my user name to a comment where I called myself beautiful, out loud. But I just got back from a run and fuck that sky high. I can be my own fairy godmother, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:35 AM on May 4 [34 favorites]


Yes, Room 641-A!

Dismissing a woman's struggle to define her own worth by saying, "That's silly, society defines her worth as relatively high (thin/blonde/rich/famous), why is she complaining?" so completely backs up the poisonous value framework for women's worth Schumer describes in her story.

She felt like hot shit in high school (high value based on male attention and others' opinions). Then she went to college and felt ugly and unwanted (low value based on male attention and others' opinions). So she fell over whoever threw her a scrap of affection. And she decided to fight it by assigning her own value to herself. I don't think from her speech that she NEVER cares when people lob insults at her based on her appearance - and as a standup comedian I can only imagine what she sees every day - but I think she works every day to move past it.

The thing is, the totem pole of "Who's the most attractive woman?" is toxic for every single woman on the totem pole. Yes, not everyone feels the same pain (see The Gooch's wonderful "Oppression Olympics" comment) but it is *toxic for every single woman.* The ones on top? Ehh, if they're judging themselves by society's standards, they're constantly in danger of dropping down due to weight gain, not being seen to make an effort, or everyone's favorite, the unstoppable Getting Older. It's life with a sell-by date planted on your forehead (or your boobs).

Her speech rejects that totem pole while acknowledging its power, in a way that really resonated with me.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 8:14 AM on May 4 [9 favorites]


The rules for being a woman are so simple, even a woman could understand them!
  1. Don't speak.
  2. If you must speak, don't be ugly.
  3. If you speak and you're ugly, please stop speaking. You probably ought to be raped for this offense.
  4. If you must speak and you're pretty, you're probably trying too hard.
  5. If you're pretty, you spend too much time working at being pretty which is dumb.
  6. If you're pretty, we know you're dumb, so don't speak.
  7. Just don't speak. Speaking gets you in a heap of trouble.
posted by amanda at 9:04 AM on May 4 [22 favorites]


It's almost like the flipside of how non-thin/blond/etc actresses are always asked where they get their confidence.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:38 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I wrote an article for Men's Health and was so proud, until I saw instead of using my photo, they used one of a 16-year-old model wearing a clown nose, to show that she's hilarious. But those are my words. What about who I am, and what I have to say?

Ugh, that's terrible and as far as I can tell Men's Health is a terrible magazine that promotes an unrealistic body image for men ('roids/'shop) with pretty terrible advice to get there.
posted by ersatz at 10:42 AM on May 4


She felt like hot shit in high school (high value based on male attention and others' opinions)

She said she felt like hot shit in high school because she was "witty and charismatic." The problems started when she got a college where women were judged on who could be "thinner, blonder, dumber."

This speech is great, and I wish I'd understood the message of it when I was the relevant age. Despite my being tall, thin, and white, I still made some stupid decisions because I overvalued what my male peers thought.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:36 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


P.S. I think her show is hilarious, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:36 AM on May 4


I've never even watched her show, but I have heard her interviewed and she explains herself pretty directly - the titillating nature of her material draws in an audience but then she can lead them to her real point

Which makes her act a bit of a slog to those of us who either aren't titillated or don't appreciate being titillated. Seems like she has some good jokes peppered through the material that panders to the Maxim crowd.
posted by Flexagon at 11:45 AM on May 4


I got all excited when Amy Schumer's show started because everyone said it was all feminist and awesome, and I saw it and she thinks racism is hilarious. Racist jokes are yay! It's really disappointing whenever I see friends post clips of hers or talk about how her show is so hilars.

I think you're missing what Amy's voice is, which is part feminist and part ridiculous satire based on who many people are willing to believe she is based on how she looks.

Like Jim Gaffigan, Amy's owned up to the fact that people bring their own stereotypes into the show based on how people look - for her, it's that she's slutty, stupid, and out-of-touch with the world. For Jim, it's that he's a trailer-park weirdo who can't stop thinking about food. The only way it works is if you can see it as realistic, which for both I think it very much is.

She created a voice in this vein - and one of the areas she's willing to go is to be that person who rejects many racist things on their face, but thinks if they're "positive" or "just generally true" then it's not racism. It doesn't convey as well as a show (which is often a problem for comics who write in a certain voice - it's challenging to expand to multiple voices or to write for others) but if you go back into Amy's material, it's been a core element of her work. She's not willing to touch on racism just where it's completely absurd, but she's waded into the murkier waters that much of today's overt racism is made up of.

The best way I can describe it is this - when you're at an Amy Schumer show (or watching her shows), you're simultaneously rejecting things she says as the "character" and accepting others as "her." Some get written off as pure ridiculousness (most people would think it's very unlikely she has had an AIDS test recently), while others stray into the realm of the possible (indians smelling bad) - but why is it that you think some of the material is satire and the others are not? Why is that? What cultural or prejudicial stereotypes might be involved in your filter?

I think Amy's one of this generation's most courageous comics - she's had to endure an excruciating amount of non-comedy criticism to get this far. People suggested that it was dating Jeselnik that made her career - yet another belief that women get ahead by sleeping their way to the top. I am excited to see how Amy's voice changes as she progresses as a mainstream comic.
posted by rutabega at 4:30 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


i don't think people's objection of the racist material is because they don't understand satire - it's that there's a fuckton of (almost always white) comics who think that satire should be a defense for saying racist shit and some of us are getting pretty tired of it. maybe comics in general should find a smarter way to bash the racists which doesn't have so much collateral damage.

it's like the colbert thing - in the context of his show, the joke made sense, sure, but the punchline is separated out, there are objections, and suddenly a bunch of racists are using colbert's words to hurl abuse at an asian woman. is that colbert's fault? not necessarily, but he should at least examine why racists are both his fans and eager to hurl racist abuse. dave chappelle even came up against something like this and when he realized that the white dude bros were laughing at the wrong part of the joke, he quit his show and walked away.

when schumer tells a satirical racist joke about indians, it looks exactly like the abuse indians receive on a daily basis. the only way that makes sense as a satirical joke is if you don't think, or don't care, that people of color are watching your show.
posted by nadawi at 6:31 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


When one of Schumer's characters says something racist, I cringe and think "Oh God, white people do think that, don't we," and that's where the laughter comes from -- I'm laughing at white people (including myself). I imagine that she's hoping people of whatever race she told the joke about are thinking "Yup, white people think that about me," and laughing at the people. It works for me, both as humor and as a bit of needling, the same way her jokes about women and sex are funny even though someone else might see them as horribly sexist.

The target is the people who actually have the racist thoughts, so the jokes don't seem racist to me. But I'm white, and it's not my place to declare things "not racist," especially when the jokes are about the blind spots white people have.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:55 AM on May 5


i'm sure that's what she's hoping. i'm white too so i'm not looking to speak for anyone - but some of the people (even in this thread) complaining about the jokes are of a race she targets and don't think it's funny or sufficiently pointed away.

i feel like the sexism jokes hit better because she is a woman. it's easier to deconstruct powerful and hurtful stereotypes from inside them.
posted by nadawi at 7:17 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]



when schumer tells a satirical racist joke about indians, it looks exactly like the abuse indians receive on a daily basis. the only way that makes sense as a satirical joke is if you don't think, or don't care, that people of color are watching your show.


Exactly and I got into this whole discussion about this with some (white) friends over the weekend. They said exactly that - she's talking in "the voice" of the racists and I'm oversensitive and not getting it.

My whole point there, and here though, is that this stuff is not for me. I don't think racist jokes are funny, I do not think we are "laughing at the racists," we're laughing at the targets of racism, and I don't think it's funny, I feel excluded from the joke and sometimes its target, and it's such retread territory at this point that I don't get what's edgy or subversive about it.


I think you're missing what Amy's voice is, which is part feminist and part ridiculous satire based on who many people are willing to believe she is based on how she looks.


But for real, quit assuming people are too stupid to understand satire. Maybe start accepting that this kind of humor isn't doing the progressive world changing stuff you think it's doing.

I imagine that she's hoping people of whatever race she told the joke about are thinking "Yup, white people think that about me," and laughing at the people.


No, I pretty much hear "Indian people don't shower" and hear people laugh and think "people think I am disgusting and smell."
posted by sweetkid at 7:22 AM on May 5 [12 favorites]


That's a shame. I like her show, and wish the bits about race worked as well as the bits about gender.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:10 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


But for real, quit assuming people are too stupid to understand satire. Maybe start accepting that this kind of humor isn't doing the progressive world changing stuff you think it's doing.

Whoa - at no point did I say anyone was stupid. We all have blinders, and we don't all understand everything right away - and even if we do, we don't necessarily like it.

I do not think we are "laughing at the racists," we're laughing at the targets of racism

No - we're not. We, the audience, are not a homogeneous group doing one thing.

Here's an example - Key & Peele do a really funny sketch on Sex With a Black Guy. Their perspective in the sketch is the two guys at the bar and how absurd it is they'll listen to all that and still want to sleep with the women.

Amy's material on sex with black guys is that of one of the women at the table and how absurd it is that people have this fantasy that, given their other views, they'll never actually act on.

It's two perspectives on the very same topic - both of which poke fun at the absurd behavior of the parties involved. The targets of the jokes are entirely different, and I think assuming the entire audience is universally laughing at the targets of racism in both scenarios is a huge blanket assumption.

In Key & Peele, I'm laughing at guys being stereotypical "guys" - in Amy's stuff, I'm laughing at how racists can't even keep their racism consistent - but in neither scenario am I finding it funny that black people have to deal with this kind of bullshit.

By no means am I saying Amy is perfect - she's certainly not - and a lot of comedians are absolute hacks at this stuff, which makes it harder for everyone else to touch these subjects without getting labelled as "racist jokes." Amy's one of those comics who just seems to polarize people - but I'd separate her from a Daniel Tosh, or a Anthony Jeselnik, who in my mind are just trying to get a rise out of people.
posted by rutabega at 9:02 AM on May 5


maybe you don't know this - but every single time this sort of topic comes up, whether it be rape jokes or racist jokes or whatever, there's always an undercurrent of "you just don't understand satire, let me explain it to you." it's well worn territory that wears a little thin and it's going to get some pushback. plenty of us understand and still think it's shitty.
posted by nadawi at 9:09 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


it's well worn territory that wears a little thin and it's going to get some pushback. plenty of us understand and still think it's shitty.

More than happy to bow out then.
posted by rutabega at 9:24 AM on May 5


wait a second, did amy schumer rape a guy?
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 5:51 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


there are definitely troubling things about that story - but i will say, selective quoting aside - at least in her telling, every single action is taken by matt - he shoves her down, he roughly fingers her, he tries to fuck her, he eats her out, he tries to fuck her again and passes out. from her telling she was little more than a blow up doll. should she have turned and walked away as soon as she saw him at the door? yes. absolutely. is this like steubenville? not even close.
posted by nadawi at 6:56 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


The mental gymnastics required here to call this a rape perpetrated by Amy are ridiculous. It's like a parody of a parody. Thought catalog should open their catalog and think another think.
posted by amanda at 7:45 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Not super familiar with Thought Catalog. Are these kind of MRA nonsense articles common or is this an anomaly?
posted by The Gooch at 11:01 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


My experience with Thought Catalog is that it always seems like it's tricking me into thinking it's like Brain Pickings or Mental Floss type "interesting thoughtful things made bite size" but is really some sort of millennial pointless braindump with a bunch of gender essentialist if not expressly MRA type stuff (which I think the Schumer thing kind of is). There's a lot of stuff like this though which is pretty ugh.
posted by sweetkid at 2:34 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I have no idea about rape law in Maryland, but the law where I live (Victoria, Australia) talks about "compelling" someone to penetrate or be penetrated. Amy's description of the account indicates that she was basically passive, at least when it came to penetration. I haven't read any case law on this, but I think that you could make a case for "compulsion" if she had grabbed his organ herself. That isn't what she says, though: she says that he was the one who did all the penetration. I don't think you could describe it as compulsion if he was playing an active role, despite the fact that he was apparently unable to legally consent to the act.

By the way, if I'm reading the Victorian law correctly, it makes a curious distinction between the penetrator and the penetrated. A penetrator (of any gender) who "intentionally sexually penetrates another person without that person's consent" commits rape even when there is no compulsion involved. Someone sexually penetrated, however, only commits rape when they are compelling the penetrator to do so. I could see this making a big difference with, e.g., sexual acts performed with a mentally disabled person who cannot legally consent: it's rape if that person is sexually penetrated, even with that person's consent; but it's not rape if that person is encouraged to penetrate someone else.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:17 PM on May 7


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