Amy Schumer Pens Essay in Response to 'Formation' Video Backlash, Cites Hillary Clinton as Inspiration

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

In an essay posted to Medium Thursday, Amy Schumer addressed the backlash surrounding her recent “Formation” parody/spoof/tribute/video. “It was NEVER a parody,” she writes. “It was just us women celebrating each other.”

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The essay, titled “Information about My ‘Formation’” is an earnest apology that explains Schumer’s thinking behind the video much better than her Instagram post ever could. “While we were shooting our movie in Hawaii this summer we were all crazy for the album and also for Hillary Clinton,” she begins – okay, sure? – before launching into her explanation about what “Formation” and Beyoncé mean to her.

“I love how in the lyrics of “Formation” Beyoncé is telling us to get in formation,” she writes. “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.” She goes on to stress her understanding of the original video’s meaning, saying “I am of course horrified and sickened by the events that are addressed throughout that video and didn’t see this as minimizing that and still don’t.”

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In case you haven’t seen what we are now calling a “tribute,” Schumer, Joan Cusack, Goldie Hawn and Wanda Sykes give the “Formation” choreography the old college try while wearing what appear to be dirty linen shifts in the jungle. Her love for Lemonade notwithstanding, the “tribute” felt strange.

She continues:

It was NEVER a parody. It was just us women celebrating each other. The video Beyoncé made was so moving and I wouldn’t ever make fun of that. There is absolutely no way to. I make fun of myself a few times in the video as I do in everything I am a part of. I loved every second of working with those women to make this thing that lifted us up.

Schumer closes by invoking “empowerment”, that old hallmark of marketplace feminism, writing:

My mission is to continue to work as hard as I can to empower women and make them laugh and feel better and I won’t let anything stop me.#strongertogether #alllove

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The apology is what it is. There’s no doubt that she meant every single word, and truly believed it. Like her good friend Lena Dunham, Schumer’s version of “feminism” and women helping women is shortsighted and lacks a self-awareness that one would think would’ve been addressed by now. If Schumer truly believes that “Lemonade” is “one of the greatest pieces of art of our time,” you’d think that she would’ve read some of the wonderful work that came out after its release. Had she done so, she would’ve understood why this tribute rubbed so many people the wrong way.

Read the essay in its entirety here.

Managing Editor, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

It gets really old when white women don’t understand or attempt to understand the meaning of certain songs written by people of color, or even any piece of clothing or accessories from other cultures like headdresses and bindis, yet they still claim they’re doing “respectful tributes” when they use them just for fun or fashion. This is why cultural appropriation is such a huge problem. Not because you wear something from another culture, but because you don’t try to understand why it was created, what it stands for, why it’s meaningful to these cultures, and why it’s not something meant for you to play with. You can enjoy all the stuff you want and appreciate it, but if you don’t even know what it means, then what are you doing and why?

It was only a silly video, but as usual, Amy’s defensiveness and lack of ability to have a real conversation makes it worse. Like, don’t try to tell people you care about giving bad impressions to them when every time black women try to bring your attention to something, you block them from Twitter. You don’t care about their feelings at ALL. And that’s why this is not ok.