As so often these days, the skirmish began with a tweet.
A Twitter exchange between Amy Schumer and a relatively unknown 17-year-old film critic, Jackson Murphy, has critics taking up arms, or, more accurately, their smartphones.
After taking a photo with Schumer at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday, Murphy (tweeting under the tinny username @LightsCameraJackson) shared the image with the caption “Spent the night with @amyschumer. Certainly not the first guy to write that.”
Murphy has since deleted the tweet, but Schumer responded swiftly over Twitter: “I get it. Cause I’m a whore? Glad I took a photo with you. Hi to your dad.”
But that’s the thing—this backlash against Murphy appears to have swung the public opinion pendulum against seemingly Teflon Schumer, at least in some circles. To some (including this writer) Schumer’s initial tweet seemed a bit hypocritical and heavy-handed.
While Schumer didn’t personally tell Cosmopolitan or Perez Hilton to turn the screws on Murphy, by calling him out on Twitter, she gave them the go-ahead to run with it.
The proceeding media takedown for an unfunny tweet—but one that this feminist would be loath to call sexist or a form of slut-shaming, especially because it was an (albeit weak) attempt to tag along on a joke Schumer regularly makes about herself—rubbed people the wrong way.
Less noticed is the fact that Murphy eloquently and maturely offered a full apology.
In turn, Schumer tweeted, “that’s really okay honey. I just remember thinking you and your dad were sweet and it was a bummer to read that.”
In another world, perhaps one in which the media weren’t as obsessed with placing certain celebrities on the coveted, sacrosanct position of imagined BFF and in which Schumer (and her handlers) hadn’t happily accepted this position and image of her as a brassy, sincere, down-to-earth, gross, sexy, all-around perfect gal, this little flare-up would be all said and done.
But, that’s not the case. We’re left with a bad taste in our mouth and beginning to question that undying love for Schumer, the Hollywood heroine of our dreams who gave a speech far more empowering, articulate, and authentic than we’d come to expect from celebrities at 2015’s Glamour awards and posed naked in the most charmingly perfect, sexy, encouraging, self-deprecating way fathomable.
Yet suddenly, after her unnecessarily over-critical response to a teenager’s botched joke, Schumer finds herself in good company with her celebrity sister-in-arms Jennifer Lawrence—also, till recently, perceived as intelligent, funny, sexy, implausibly graceful, and fun—“real.”
After winning best actress in a comedy or musical at the Golden Globes this month, Lawrence called out a reporter who was on his phone during the press conference.
He appeared to be reading notes and some reporters noted that English may not have been his native language.
Lawrence wagged her finger at him and mocked him. “We’re at the Golden Globes. If you put your phone down, you’d know that,” Lawrence said.
Many thought Lawrence was just joking. Anne Hathaway rushed to her defense, claiming the remarks were taken “out of context” (and, as the subject of the mysterious Hatha-hate, Anne Hathaway may know what she speaks of).
Yes, Lawrence came off as obnoxious and distasteful, but no less so than Sean Penn’s self-aggrandizing El Chapo profile.
The Lawrence and Schumer problem is that they have been sold to the audience as relatable, “regular” women. And so, when their Hollywood steel or entitlement shows itself, it feels jarring.
Yet these moments rightly remind us of the reality and scale of Schumer and Lawrence’s success. We shouldn’t believe the hype, no matter how attractively it plays in the media, and no matter how genuinely the women themselves wear their down-to-earthness.
Lawrence regaled us with stories about how she, too, hated going out for New Year’s and inevitably ends up “drunk and disappointed” as we all do. She failed to mention that she would be “drunk and disappointed” at Chateau Marmont making out with Liam Hemsworth.
The media (including me) fell in love with Lawrence and Schumer for cutting loose and dancing on pianos. We didn’t dwell on the fact the piano was on the stage of a Billy Joel concert, and that the legendary singer personally invited the celebrities to boogie down.
And now that Lawrence and Schumer are seeming not so nonchalant about fame, but rather a little diva-esque in Lawrence’s case or thin-skinned for a comedian who built a rep on doling it out in Schumer’s, we are discomfited by the revelation of the women’s more imperious selves.
In the grand scheme of celebrity behavior that has been forgiven, Lawrence’s jerky rebuff to the reporter and Schumer’s sorta takedown of an unfunny teenage boy were pretty minor. They have attracted comment because the women don’t seem to be Naomi Campbell-esque cellphone throwing divas, or shoutily intimidating like Christian Bale.
It is for us, perhaps, to grow up—not them. They and their management may be complicit or pro-active in the crafting of their images, but the glowing deification of them is also the province of an overly-adoring media.
In our age of everything-amplified social media, the media, and fans, over-love celebrities, and then over-denounce them if they are perceived to have fouled. This heightened atmosphere is juvenile, overblown, and perfectly suited to a breaking news cycle, tabloid titillation, and 140 characters.
We’d all be better thinking of our relationship with Schumer and Lawrence as not only one between adults, but also as a sanely distant one between the public and their entertainers. They aren’t our best friends, and they shouldn’t be treated as symbols or icons of anything. We pay to watch them perform, they perform for us.
Anyway, it’s hard not to think the media will swoon once again, especially when we see the movie Schumer and Lawrence are making, in which they are set to play sisters. Like any lover, the public can be fickle but ultimately forgiving.