Today In Things We Didn’t Need: Amy Schumer’s “Formation” Parody

Here's something that should be totally unsurprising: Amy Schumer's parody of "Formation" is not at all enjoyable. Late last week, the Trainwreck star released a spoof of Lemonade's lead single. Schumer plays Beyoncé's stand-in, lip syncing and dancing to the singer's choreography. Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack, and Wanda Sykes all make cameos in the video, which is officially titled "Get in Formation." The video was filmed in Hawaii. You can watch it in full below:
This isn't good or particularly funny. In fact, given the source material, it's actually verging on gross. "Formation" is a song that gives Black women our own seat at our own table: It references Black food, Black hair, and police brutality. In Schumer's hands, Beyoncé's twerking, cornrowed feminism is reduced to nothingness. One of the most powerful shots of "Formation" is of a little Black boy dancing in front of armed police officers, the words "Stop Shooting Us" graffitied on a nearby wall. Seeing Schumer wear a bulletproof vest in this parody seems like a callous joke, since, last time I checked, there's no epidemic of police violence against educated, unarmed white women. Schumer's spoof relies on one joke: that Amy Schumer isn't Black. The entire parody is predicated on the comedian's whiteness. She's a white woman who casts herself in Beyoncé's image, a white woman who dares to twerk, a white woman who suggests that lovemaking be rewarded with a trip to Red Lobster. That's the gag: Amy Schumer is a white woman who is thoroughly tickled by her own ham-fisted attempts to engage with something she sees as opposite her, that exotic phenomenon known as Black art. Schumer has a history of racially insensitive jokes, so this "Formation" joke isn't surprising. In July 2015, she apologized for one of them — "I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual." In her explanation, she said that back then she "played a dumb white girl character on stage," and that sometimes she still does. But that character is conveniently insulting to everyone except the "dumb white girls" she's parodying. Her feminism is hollow, and her jokes are harmful. Instead of giving that "Get in Formation" video another click, I'm RSVP-ing to Black Twitter's #AmySchumerGottaGoParty. I hope you'll join me.

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