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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Women of Western: Amy Schumer’s Beyonce parody

When life gives you lemons, don’t parody Lemonade.

It is not uncommon for comedians to release parodies, making fun of a concept, song or person that’s of major public focus. However, Amy Schumer’s “Formation” Beyoncé parody has critics and Beyoncé fans all riled up.

The comedian released a music video starring her, Goldie Hawn, and featuring Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack and Raven Goodwin. In the video they lip synch the lyrics to Beyoncé’s “Formation” while covered in dirt and dancing.

The parody’s release on Saturday, Oct. 22, was met with immediate backlash. People took offense at the fact that “Formation” is a song that explicitly addresses racial politics and police brutality, and two white, privileged woman shouldn’t make light of it.

Schumer responded to the critics with an essay, published Friday, Oct. 28. In the essay she explains the video wasn’t a way to make fun of Beyoncé’s song, but an anthem of power and unity.

“It was NEVER a parody,” Schumer’s essay reads, “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 has always been a beacon of female empowerment, but a combination of her complicated history of her racial insensitivity and her refusal to apologize raise questions about her character.

People took to twitter to let out their frustrations. The hashtag “AmySchumerGottaGoParty” began trending.

Beyonce’s Lemonade album has been used for jokes before. The Late Late Show host, James Corden, focused a monolog entitled “Lemonjames” that depicted spoken-word portions of Lemonade. Stephen Colbert dressed as Beyoncé in response to her American Music Awards performance. Even Saturday Night Live used the track “Sorry” to copy with their “Melanianade” video, where actresses played various unhappy woman in Donald Trump’s life.

“If you watched it and it made you feel anything other than good, please know that was not my intention,” Schumer said in her essay, “The movie we made is fun and the women in it are strong and want to help each other. That’s what it was about for me.”

Shannon Finn, senior, wasn’t surprised by what Schumer did.

“Schumer is a comedian who’s known for her controversial jokes,” Finn said, “I actually completely understand where the complaints are coming from as she’s a white actress who trivializes black culture. However the hate comments that she’s been getting have been a bit much.”  

To Finn, it’s not a hopeless case for the celebrity. The fix could be simple.

“Give a sincere apology,” she said, “She’s hasn’t done that ever, with anything that she’s done. She just explains what she did without actually apologizing.”

This is true; while Schumer was earnest in her attempt to clarify the original intent of the video, her essay offers no apology to those she has offended. Something that has not gone unnoticed.

Schumer will have to be more careful in the future to recognize the significance of her actions.

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