“Perhaps a Schumer backlash is inevitable” reads a Guardian article posted Sunday morning. The article, which included praise for breakout comedian star Amy Schumer’s “serious comedic clout in addition to a feminist agenda,” criticized Schumer for having “a shockingly large blind spot around race … Schumer’s stand-up repeatedly delves into racial territory tactlessly and with no apparent larger point.” Examples of Schumer’s offending jokes cited in the article included a bit about dating Latino men: “I used to date Latino guys,” she starts off in an old stand-up bit, “Now I prefer consensual.”
Schumer responded with lightning speed to the article. Less than two hours after the article’s posting, she posted two screenshots of a long note she had clearly just written in response on her phone. Her defense was adamant; in the statement, she said, “I ask you to resist the urge to pick me apart. Trust me. I am not racist.” Schumer stood by the idea that “I will joke about things that you aren’t comfortable with. And that’s ok. Stick with me and trust that I am joking” She claims her racial jokes as part of her put-on persona: “I go in and out of playing an irreverent idiot. That includes making dumb jokes about race.”
While un-PC and controversial material is nothing new to the world of comedy and has and probably always will be debated, Schumer’s rebuttal feels somewhat ineffective. In part of her note, she says “You can call it a ‘blind spot for racism’ or ‘lazy’ but you are wrong. It is a joke and it is funny. I know that because people laugh at it.” People in certain audiences also may laugh at jokes about Chinese laundromats and black people loving chicken and watermelon, but the jokes are in no way validated or removed of their racial charge just because they got a laugh from someone. As Twitter ignites in both defense and offense of Schumer, it is a safe to say that a backlash is occurring. It would be upsetting to see a woman who has broken a lot of ground for women in comedy be pulled apart by critics, but hopefully this criticism can open up a mature conversation about racism in comedy rather than just start a flame war.