Late last month, Amy Schumer released her own video version of Beyoncé’s “Formation.”
Whether the video was a wacky homage to Lemonade and its themes, as Schumer has said, or whether it was instead an extremely tone-deaf parody of an already canonical piece of art, as many of its viewers concluded, making it in the first place was, all in all, a very bad decision. Here was Schumer, a white woman who’s been on the receiving end of very legitimate questions about her stand-up act’s treatment of race, taking it upon herself to remake a video that is, on top of so much else, a celebration of black womanhood. The whole thing was actually pretty baffling. It was also, for many of Schumer’s fans, extremely disappointing.
It was not, however, fully surprising. Schumer, engaged every day in the work of being human in public, has made missteps before. And she has had many chances to do that: While she is, yes, a creator of TV and film and literature, she is also a creator of tweets and posts and grams. She is constantly making stuff, in part because the laws of celebrity relevance demand that she constantly be making stuff. And: She is making stuff that is designed, specifically, to be talked about. There’s a lot that could go wrong in that basic premise—not just for Schumer, as a star, but also for the people who have followed her, and who have wrapped their appreciation of her work into their own identities. Being a celebrity may be more demanding than ever; so, though, is being a fan.