#Problematic: Amy Schumer’s Feminism, Iggy And Britney’s “Pretty Girls” & Miley’s Happy Hippies

Congratulations, y’all (just imagine Connie Britton saying that). We’ve made it to lucky week 13. I bet our cycles our synced up by now! Let’s all go get a tattoo of a dead bat or something, and shoot fireball. Let’s pretend we’re in college again. Let’s get drunk and apply to nursing school. If you pay attention to astrology, you know it’s a dark moon, the perfect moon for the occasion (I guess). I’m not really concerned if you believe that planetary alignment affects us earthly pioneers or not, but can we all just be thrilled that the phrase “it’s a dark moon” exists and is being headed by women with cats everywhere (of which I am a one, so don’t come for me). You also have just another mere 48 hours to exist in a world in which “Mad Men” also exists. Get your affairs in order like Betty Draper, because it’s all going to be over soon. Oh and “Revenge” ended this past Sunday with Amanda literally sailing into the sunset, because that show had no self-awareness. So a dark moon indeed. Grab a crystal, and let’s get on to the problems.

1. Amy Schumer’s Feminism Isn’t Always Feminist

Amy Schumer has had a loyal fan base for quite some time, but the third season of her Comedy Central variety show, “Inside Amy Schumer,” seems to have premiered in congruence with her suddenly becoming a household name. Every week, at least one sketch of the mere three per show will spark up an internet wild fire that can only be extinguished once everyone’s mom has posted to Facebook, “Oh man, that Amy. She makes me giggle.” Her star significantly rising is clearly due to her hard work and comedy ingenuity, but it’s unclear whether or not the instantaneous leap into the spotlight is because of some monied PR teams or just what happens when you slowly chip away at America with your presence long enough.

I’d like to also think that over the course of the past five or so years the work of shows like “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Modern Family,” and other primetime comedic giants unafraid of female-driven laughs, has finally warmed up the cold hearts of middle America for an even racier brand of comedy with fewer fucks to give, like “Broad City,” “High Maintenance,” and of course Schumer. Prior to that exposure, and the motherly nod of approval from their trusted corporate networks like ABC, that aged, corn-fed demographic had found “That ’70s Show” reruns to even be a little too wild. But now the liberal-minded, pro-women, irreverent comedy of Amy Schumer has become mainstream, and that could end up being exactly what undermines it … hear me out.

Amy Schumer’s comedy bleeds feminist blood. She’s managed to make a royal flush of feminist grievances — often denied by Republican lawmakers — hilariously undeniable. Her brand of comedy is relentless—each sketch heightening to such a level of absurdity that you can’t miss the point. There’s a constant wink that the absurdities are funny because they are mirroring a terrifying reality. Her recent birth control commercial parody escalates the “ask your doctor if birth control is right for you” trope to her asking everyone from the mail man to a boy scout, her pharmacist ultimately handing a kid a gun because “that’s your right.”

In terms of addressing the political and societal card-stacking against women, Schumer’s had plenty of fantastic feminist triumphs. But when she attempts to address the downfalls of women themselves, she ends up getting into dangerous woman-shaming territory. Schumer’s whole schtick is the fact that she doesn’t hold herself to any magazine-marketed ideals of beauty. She doesn’t get hung up on body image or hair luminosity, and no woman should. But that doesn’t make the women who do fall into that category fair game.

This week’s “Inside Amy Schumer” featured a sketch titled “Celebrity Interview,” in which she plays”Amy Lake Blively” being interviewed by Bill Hader, doing what we can assume is his best Letterman as a fake late night show host. Schumer is in a tight, black dress, with her legs cartoonishly painted gold to mock the way actresses are preened for television appearances. She does a whole host of disparaging impressions of faux Blake Lively. She just can’t figure out how to sit in her dress. She flirts with Hader. Her favorite movie is “Star Wars.” At home she’s always in a sports jersey or naked. And she does that actually very annoying real life thing, where girls plagued with an unfortunate combination of insecurity and narcissism encapsulate their personalities with innocuous traits that actually are just real life bullshit—“I have this thing that’s very unique to just me, where I’m always cold.” All the while Hader is focused on fawning over how hot she is, and placating her every word.

The sketch has gotten a lot of praise for critiquing one of Schumer’s favorite archetypes to demean, “The Cool Girl,” most famously articulated by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl. The cool girl is the wet dream of the patriarchy, and the media’s favorite ruse of what femininity should look like. It’s fair to want to take that pyramid-idea scheme of what a woman should be and put it on a BBQ until that goose is cooked. But the sketch ultimately undermines itself, because you can’t tell whether Schumer’s impression of a dim-witted starlet, or Hader’s impression of a horny old media mogul, is supposed to be the focus of the satire.

In real life both parties do the little dance that is choreographed for them by movie studios and television networks. America wants their actresses sexy, funny and down for whatever, and our red-blooded, wealthy late night hosts (who arguably are the lottery winners of the patriarchy) have all the autonomy in these 50 United States to exploit that. If you want to get down to feminist brass tacks, actresses don’t have a choice but to play along, because they are always appearing on late night TV in a promotional effort for a project.

If you watch old interviews with Lively and Letterman, you can’t deny that the impression is somewhat realistic. What is problematic though is that the same is true of Letterman’s interviews with pretty much any actress, no matter the age. If Schumer was trying to criticize our beloved and almost retired David for being a perv, it didn’t read. What came across instead was Schumer picking at the scab of what it’s like for women in Hollywood. It read as an insecure presentation of why she’s better than that.

What unfortunately proves just how misguided the sketch was, Schumer appeared on Letterman just a few weeks ago on April 20th. Much like in the sketch, she wore a black dress, her legs glossed by makeup artists. Speaking of hosting the MTV Movie Awards, she immediately reverted to the cool girl trope and alleged, “I always just say the wrong thing with celebrities” (also the insinuation that she isn’t one is a little daft at this point). Dave suggested she should do something she’d regret because she’d never be on the show with him again, and she didn’t hesitate to stand up and show some leg. What’s problematic is that if Schumer was trying to critique her own experience, it came across more as her shitting on other women for not being like her, and that ultimately undermines all of her other great feminist concepts put together. Sometimes you become the satire, and sometimes the satire becomes you.

As #Problematic as … the Olsen Twins being overshadowed by their little sister:

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2. Iggy Azalea and Britney Spears are Pretty Girls

The video for the Iggy/Britney single “Pretty Girls” is finally out, because we all were just chomping at the bit for it. In all fairness though, it’s actually a lot of fun. There is pink in all forms, and distracted driving, gas station mischief type fun-having, and Iggy Azalea beams down in Britney Spears’ pool as a kind of fembot alien. The biggest bummer is that the video is a visual manifestation of how desperate the song itself is, Britney needing to hook on to a younger buck for a chart revival, and Iggy being pop’s annoying step sister no one wants around anymore. “Pretty Girls” is a musically symbiotic relationship. There is an alternate universe in which I’d like to believe this video exists as meta commentary on the song itself, but I don’t think they’ve discovered the wormhole to that galaxy yet. They were clearly going for a Katy Perry-inspired, campy summer fun thing, but without the twinkle-in-eye, you don’t know if I’m being serious or not-panache of Perry, it just continues to read as desperate. It doesn’t help that Azalea has been criticized multiple times for appropriation, and general unoriginality.

What’s really problematic is that even having almost a decade on Iggy, Britney shows her the fuck up in the video. She has not one, but two dance sequences that are both reminiscent of the early aughts Britney we all miss and love. The whole time Iggy just postures, throwing her hands up next to a speaker, throwing her hands up in front of a car, swaying back and forth, snapping. Even though we all also know Brit is a friend of auto tune, that Mouseketeer can still sing, or at least could before all of the Kools and flavored rum. Iggy on the other hand has one job, to rap, and she does it with the pride and alacrity often indicative of mediocrity. If anything the video is an homage to what it used to take to be a pop star, and a sad reminder that now all you have to do is sway and speak into a microphone.

As #Problematic as … people who keep lizards as pets:

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3. This Fucking Thing

There is a viral thing going around the internet, as viral things are wont to do. It’s a series of drawings by a Korean artist, “Puuung,” touted as illustrations of “what love really looks like.” The motive itself is noble—an attempt to counter balance the glamorized, sensationalized tales of love in film, where there’s nothing filling in the gaps between grand gestures and unrealistic circumstances. But then again, who wants to watch a movie where people sit around doing the insufferable things you’d never want anyone to see you doing at home with your partner. But anything to defeat a stereotype, I guess.

What’s truly problematic is the absolutely absurd gender roles playing into these illustrations. Granted, I wouldn’t put Korea at the forefront of gender politics, if anything they love a delicate feminine ideal, and cartoon-y expressionism. But, in three of the crop of 22 images circulating the web, the woman is crying. She is crying because she broke a vase. She is crying on the stairs. She is crying in his arms. That might be a pretty proportional number, but in all 22 of the drawings the man is the portrait (forgive pun) of calm, level-headed, strong, but sensitive masculinity. She also squeals things like “wake up, hug me!” He works while she spends her days in twee pajama configurations baking him cakes and playing with the cat. I know I’m being cynical, but I just can’t get behind these images selling like hot cakes, and no one taking a minute to ask if they were made with any artificial ingredients.

The takeaway really is that we should all move to Korea, because this young, half-employed couple has a really fucking nice apartment.

As #Problematic … as manic pixie dream girls:

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4. Miley Cyrus Is A Happy Hippie

It’s actually not that problematic at all. My favorite pop star, who I also like to call “White Rihanna” (and don’t come for me being racist, it’s supposed to be joke-y commentary on culture making black celebrities synonymous with white counterparts) started her own foundation to champion for homeless youth, LGBT youth, and pretty much compassion in general. I love this so much, because alongside being a badass artist beyond the realms of typical pop stardom, Miley is a visionary in a real sense of the word. She’s had a rough ride redefining herself after child stardom (and is probably the most successful in doing so to date), and she continues to overcome and surmount expectations. I also think she’s making a very important statement about our generation, and all of the grumpy, economically-ignorant things that baby boomers say about millennials.  I think she will ultimately be the Madonna of our time, but far more transcendental and transformative.

To celebrate the launch, Cyrus has been hosting several star-studded backyard sessions with guest stars ranging from Joan Jett to Melanie Safka. This week, she also dueted with Ariana Grande, which was weird because they were in animal costumes, and Ariana Grande seemed very at home in her animal costume. Regardless, this isn’t problematic outside of Grande having yet to project a real sense of womanhood or general personality (but it’s impossible to not root for her).

As #Problematic as … the time wasted on cat videos:

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5. Summer Is Coming

Like I said last week, it’s spring into summer time, which means actually manifesting your destiny. And if you’ve made it with me this far this week, you deserve a treat.

Here’s a Pinterest link on how to create a Vision Board. DM me if you want to get together and make one sometime. And just remember, “your spark can become a flame and change everything.” #BeTheChange