OK, hysterics, y’all need to calm down. The Internet loves when the takes are hot, but things have officially gone too far when The Washington Post is publishing an opinion piece that compares Amy Schumer to the racially-motivated terrorist Dylann Roof.
Comparing Amy Schumer to Dylann Roof is not even like comparing apples to oranges. It’s like comparing apples to a rare breed of pony, which has been found to be susceptible to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It makes precisely zero sense.
But before we delve too deep into that nonsense, let’s first step back to when this bout of Schumer criticism started bubbling up last week.
The whole thing started when Monica Heisey wrote a critique of Schumer’s work for The Guardian, condemning some of her lesser-known sketches and standup as “race blind.”
Heisey had a point. One of the jokes she cited in the article included the line, “I used to date Latino guys, now I prefer consensual.”
Schumer responded defensively, basically saying it was impossible for her to be racist, because feminism. “Trust me,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am not racist. I am a devout feminist and lover of all people.”
Obviously, that was not great. As E. Alex Jung wrote for Vulture, “The better approach is to listen and take the criticism in rather than try to shut it down.”
Then, almost as if in response, Schumer tweeted at @martinejoel expanding her apology and getting it right.
“Once I realized I had more eyes and ears on me and had an influence I stopped telling jokes like that on stage,” she said. “I am evolving as an artist. I am taking responsibility and hope I haven’t hurt anyone. And I apologize it I did [sic].”
That was the pitch-perfect answer to this issue, which was quickly metastasizing into full-blown backlash. She expressed a sense of responsibility and desire to change moving forward. Case closed, right?
Except, apparently not, nope, no! Monday, Stacey J. Patton and David J. Leonard wrote a piece for The Washington Post during which they spend about 800 words rolling around in the most absurd possible response to criticism of Schumer.
They go so far as to say Schumer’s brand of comedy is “spewing rhetoric that breeds the fear that results in soaring gun purchases, that ‘inspires’ monsters like Dylann Roof to craft a manifesto with deadly consequences.”
Patton and Leonard’s point -- also buried under mention of Donald Trump and the KKK -- is really that jokes require context. As they say in perhaps the only wholly sane sentence of the article: “Invoking the ‘it’s just a joke’ defense denies the social, historic and cultural implications of racial humor.”
That’s not totally wrong. And Schumer’s old jokes were lazy. And while she’s now a bona fide feminist hero, race is simply not an area that she has handled with the kind of dexterity she has become known for. This is a point that can be made without hyperventilating.
It’s like Patton and Leonard took one tiny half nugget of a legitimate idea and then threw a temper tantrum. And the purpose of this response is really just to ask: can you not?
This kind of melodramatic takedown of everything that is "problematic" has become the standard mode of the Internet. It's causing us to lose track of nuanced conversations in favor of pounding our fists along with the rise of outrage culture.
Schumer is on the fast track to be crowned Queen of Comedy. She’s probably going to mess up another two or three times before we elect a new imaginary best friend. She’s also probably going to succeed a lot more times than that. So, maybe we should give her a chance to accept accountability and appreciate the magnitude of her newfound platform. That, or we could keep freaking out and maybe write a think piece talking about how similar she is to Hitler. Up to you, Internet!