Amy Schumer Tries to Get In "Formation"
In a recent controversial example of “white feminism,” on Oct. 22 Amy Schumer uploaded a music video, “Get in Formation,” a parody of Beyonce’s song “Formation” and its accompanying music video. While Schumer got permission from Beyonce to parody the song, the video received swift, harsh backlash from viewers because of problematic elements they saw. Ultimately, the arguments center around the assertion that this video, which features Schumer and Goldie Hawn dancing to the original song, depends on cultural appropriation and creates a mockery of original themes of police brutality and racial identity. Schumer, however, is not apologetic in the least. She posted to her Instagram “You know you that b**** 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”. Perhaps most troubling is that Schumer insists that she did not intend for the parody video to belittle these issues, and that she still does not see the video as mocking. Schumer is well-known for her comedy—she debuted on Comedy Central, and she wrote and starred in Trainwreck last year—so it is understandable that many are seeing her video as something that was supposed to be taken as a joke. However, this is one of many examples where a white feminist misuses black culture while claiming that they were building it up. Schumer’s general silence on the issue effectively silences the conversation on the issue, further silencing the same community that she claims to uplift.
Feminism remains a divisive issue in society, and it has become increasingly evident in recent years that there are major, and important, distinctions within the broad idea of feminism. Many of these divisions, as I understand them, pertain to intersectionality. Intersectionality is when the connections (or intersections) between different branches of societal oppression and discrimination, namely the interactions between gender, sexuality and race, are acknowledged to be important factors. The major, though contested, bodies within feminism have often been referred to as “white feminism” and “black feminism” (though black feminism has sometimes gone by other names, such as womanism, in order to separate itself from white feminism). White feminism often fails to address intersectional issues, ultimately failing and misrepresenting women of color, trans women, and women of lower socioeconomic status, instead typically only representing middle-class white women. In recent pop culture white feminism has been represented by figures such as Amy Schumer, as well as Lena Dunham, Taylor Swift, and others.
Historically speaking, women who fought desperately for women’s suffrage were often unwilling to prioritize giving non-white Americans the right to vote, and failed to use their newfound power to benefit other disenfranchised parties. In modern times some white feminists and their supporters still argue that it is acceptable to put the needs and rights of underrepresented people on hold in favor of pushing forward issues that will mainly benefit white, affluent, cis-gender women. This toxic feminism not only supports systems of inequality but also undermines political and social progress at large. When we fail to speak out against injustice, in any form, we feed injustice at large, allowing further discrimination, and ultimately damaging our own causes.