It’s been a big week for Amy Schumer. Her book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, came out on Tuesday to generally good reviews and high sales, and is currently No. 6 on Amazon.
But in the midst of this impressive debut, Schumer found herself fielding outrage from both the right and the left sides of the culture wars. And in the aftermath, she appeared to prematurely cancel her TV show.
The anti-SJWs of Reddit have launched a campaign against Schumer’s book
Despite getting generally positive reviews in the press, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo has only 2.9 stars on Amazon currently. And that’s not an accident, reports the Week: A group of Reddit users have decided to spam her Amazon page with fake one-star reviews.
The redditors in question are fans of Opie and Anthony, a shock-jock radio show that was discontinued after one of the hosts was fired for going on a racist Twitter rant. (He was later arrested and charged with strangling a woman.) The show continues under the name Opie With Jim Norton, but the fans of the subreddit r/opieandanthony prefer the original version, which they believe pushed the boundaries of comedy. They consider Schumer to be a "social justice warrior" (SWJ) comic, a comedian whose jokes are built around man-hating feminism and progressive identity politics. As far as they’re concerned, she is the lowest of the low.
In a now-deleted comment, one redditor suggested the plan, and it soon took off in its own dedicated thread: "the reviews are in!... or they're about to be. Right boys?"
"Strong brainwashing tactics in this book," one reviewer opines. "My daughter purchased this book and his [sic] come away from it loathing men. I was afraid of this but didn't want to be a bigot. I'll never have my sensible little girl back."
The fake one-star reviews were soon met with a counter-assault of five-star reviews from Schumer fans, begging potential readers to ignore the trolls. "Ignore the Fake one Star Reviews," says the top-rated user review, "if you like Amy, you will love this book!"
But while Schumer was facing assault from the anti-SJW corners of the internet, she was about to come under fire from a very different source.
Meanwhile, feminists are begging Schumer to disavow one of her writers
On Saturday, Kurt Metzger, a writer on Schumer’s TV show Inside Amy Schumer, wrote a now-deleted public Facebook post that drew outrage from feminists.
Metzger is responding to the Upright Citizens Brigade’s decision to ban a comedian after multiple women alleged that he assaulted them. The ban — and the ensuing storm of Facebook posts in the UCB community, in which the comedian was named and the allegations discussed — were, Metzger felt, dangerously close to a witch hunt. After all, if these women had truly been assaulted, shouldn’t they have gone to the police? If they were resorting to private allegations and comedy club bans, didn’t that mean they had no evidence at all? (If you are asking the same questions, we have some answers here and here.)
While you can certainly make a rational argument against affirming someone’s guilt or innocence before a thorough police investigation, many felt that Metzger’s tone was needlessly inflammatory.
As the Daily Dot reports, Metzger followed up his initial Facebook post with several additional posts that were riddled with misogynistic language. Anyone who didn’t urge sexual assault victims to go to the police, he wrote, needed to "pull [their] heads out of [their] cunts and [their cunts] out of their blogs..." (Metzger has since made another statement on Race Wars, in which he says that the "holes" comment was needlessly harsh but stands by the rest of his claims. It begins at about 17 minutes in.)
Schumer identifies as a feminist, and a lot of her comedy includes feminist themes, so her association with Metzger didn’t exactly match her brand. On Twitter, a number of feminists approached Schumer, asking her to disavow Metzger. "is this really one of your writers??" one wrote. "There's a hell of a lot of not-cool in this post."
Shortly afterward, Schumer blocked her on Twitter, along with several other people who tweeted at her about Metzger.
About 13 hours later, Schumer made a post on Twitter stating that she "couldn’t be more against" Metzger’s actions.
I am so saddened and disappointed in Kurt Metzger. He is my friend and a great writer and I couldn't be more against his recent actions.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
An hour after that, she asked that everyone stop asking her to disavow Metzger, because he no longer worked for her.
Kurt does not work for me. He is not a writer on my show. Please stop asking me about it. His words are not mine.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
Metzger, however, is listed as a writer of 39 episodes of Inside Amy Schumer on IMDB. Schumer’s followers requested clarification. Seven hours later, she tweeted that she hadn’t fired Metzger. Her show was over.
I didn't fire Kurt. He isn't a writer for my show because we aren't making the show anymore. There are no writers for it.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 18, 2016
But Comedy Central has not announced that Inside Amy Schumer was canceled; in fact, its fifth season was confirmed months ago. Was Schumer announcing the cancellation on her own?
No, she clarified after another 12 hours. It’s just on hiatus while she tours.
#InsideAmySchumer is not cancelled. @ComedyCentral has provided us with a wonderful home and we couldn't be happier there. I am just touring— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 18, 2016
So while Metzger may not be currently working on her show, it’s not clear whether Schumer plans to rehire him when it starts back up again.
What is clear, however, is that Metzger has a history of tangling with the feminist internet, one that makes Schumer’s claim that she is surprised by his actions difficult to swallow.
Metzger has a troubled history when it comes to feminists
In 2013, Metzger began a long feud with feminist writer Sady Doyle. Doyle objected to another comic’s rape jokes, and Metzger took issue with her objections. Over the course of the ensuing back and forth, Doyle alleged that Metzger was behind an account that mockingly impersonated her. Metzger informed Doyle that he was "pro-rape as far as you're concerned." Doyle screencapped a Facebook post in which Metzger appears to discuss choking an ex-girlfriend "not hard, but definitely criminally."
Metzger discussed the incident on WTF With Marc Maron in 2015 and told Maron that he’d told Schumer all about the feud. "Amy wasn’t going to fire me," Metzger said. Instead, he claims, she gave him a raise.
@sadydoyle @amyschumer @ComedyCentral They gave me a raise. Does that count?— Kurt Metzger (@kurtmetzger) June 28, 2013
Schumer tends to double down when criticized
Metzger may well have been joking when he claimed Schumer gave him a raise after the Sady Doyle altercation, but it’s not out of Schumer’s character to react to criticism by doubling down. She demonstrated as much this week, when — as she fielded criticism from the anti-SJWs of Reddit and the feminists of Twitter — animal rights activists appeared at her book signing on Tuesday night, New York Magazine’s the Cut reports.
The activists rushed the stage, chanting, "Canada Goose, animal abuse!" and, "Fur trade, death trade!" After security escorted them out, Schumer explained the background story.
"So I get sent some free shit, which I wear because I don’t know how to dress myself," she said. "I got sent a Canada Goose jacket and then I wore it and then I read that they tortured coyotes or whatever. So I said, ‘I’m going to stop wearing that,’ and I did." After a moment, she added, "But now I think I’m going to start again."
Schumer doesn’t think of herself as a political figure. Her critics do.
Schumer is in an unenviable position. As a woman who has publicly talked about her experience of being a woman, she’s now considered a feminist comedian and hence, by default, a political figure. Anti-feminist redditors consider her fair game for harassment; feminists expect her to disavow her associates when they behave in anti-feminist ways; her clothing choices must be faultlessly flattering or she will face mockery, and flawlessly ethical or she will face outrage.
It’s a position she never asked for, she insists in her book. She writes:
I don’t even pretend to speak for all women. I write about my life and how I see and experience the world, without assuming that my views are universal. … This meaningless label painted me into a corner and forced me to speak for all females, because I am the actual FEMALE who wrote the FEMALE comedy and then starred as the lead FEMALE in that FEMALE comedy. They don’t ask Seth Rogen to be ALL MEN!
Schumer does not, in other words, consider herself to be a political figure. While she considers herself to be a feminist, she does not consider her comedy to be political. She considers it personal.
And so when she’s criticized, it feels personal and hurtful to her. These aren’t attacks on political statements she made or a joke that didn’t land — for her, they’re attacks on Amy Schumer the person.
That’s why she responds by doubling down on whatever’s being criticized. She’ll block those tweeters, she’ll give that writer a raise, she’ll wear that unethical jacket. Because when someone criticizes that writer or that jacket, they’re criticizing her, and she’s not going to give the haters the satisfaction of changing her behavior.
She decided a long time ago, she writes in her book, to honor herself and her mistakes:
I wear my mistakes like badges of honor, and I celebrate them. They make me human. Now that all of my work, my relationships, my tweets, my body parts, and my sandwiches are publicly analyzed, I’m proud that I labeled myself a flawed, normal human before anyone else did. I beat all the critics and Internet trolls to the punch. I’ve been called everything in the book, but I already branded myself a tramp, so the haters are going to have to come up with something fresh.
She doesn’t have to worry. With the internet outrage cycle working the way it does, Schumer’s critics will likely have something fresh to work with in no time.
Update: Schumer addressed the Metzger controversy in an interview with Charlie Rose Thursday night, saying that while Metzger was a friend of hers and she valued the perspective he added to the Inside Amy Schumer writer’s room, she didn’t agree with his statements. "He baits people," she said. "He’s the problem, no question, but the focus is on him rather than on what the really — the real main problem is. … To focus your energy on online trolling, if I did that, I wouldn’t get anything done. Let’s focus on actually getting the problem done."