In Awkward Praise of Amy Schumer

Besides, the fact this is eerily… precise? the cat in a sun hat shirt just throws it right over the top.

I remember hearing/reading someone say of Karen O., that she is powerful because ‘she’s not afraid to look ugly, she’s not afraid to take a bad picture,’ (for counterpoint, see: Beyonce.) This was in the context of female musicians seeming less authentic than their male counterparts, and the relationship between prettiness and perceived legitimacy. I feel this way about Amy Schumer’s artistic choices. She’s not afraid to make herself look horrible. If anything, it is almost like you can see the mechanics of her decision-making, ‘oh, that’s going to make me look awful? Oh, okay, I’m going to do that then.’

We seem really resistant as a society to allow women to do things at the expense of their own attractiveness, whether it’s physically or more in terms of appealing qualities. We can tolerate a hot, talented woman, we can tolerate an ugly, talented woman (so long as she dare not think she’s hot) but we can’t tolerate a human woman. That seems to be changing with Tina Fey and the case of Bridesmaids and Amy Schumer, women who are clearly taking conscious steps to be publicly imperfect, not in a sometimes-I-sneak-chocolate Cosmo cover way, but in a very raw, human way. Hopefully with them comes the message that a woman’s attractiveness, which seems to be very unfortunately tied to the absence of humanity, is hers to do what she wants with, not something to be preserved for the comfort of other people.

Amy Schumer is one of the most clever, incisive comics of our time and one of the most gloriously rebellious teenagers that ever lived. She makes me cry because her comedy makes me realize our shared humanity, and then cry even more because our shared humanity is comprised of all the things that are ugly and horrible about ourselves.

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