“Amy Schumer Claims Alt-Right Campaign Responsible for Poor Netflix Special Reviews,” reads a recent Washington Free Beacon headline.
It is no secret that Amy Schumer does not get along with conservatives, in general, let alone those on the alternative right (alt-right). She has frequently mocked and bad-mouthed Donald Trump, which is fine. Everyone is entitled to free speech. She has also mocked and belittled Trump supporters, which is also protected under the First Amendment. However, freedom of expression is not being argued here.
Amy Schumer’s complaint against “alt-right trolls” does not hold water when she has had folks physically get up and walk out of her shows. Are we to believe that they were a part of this conspiracy? It is highly unlikely that all of the 200 people who walked out on her October 2016 show in Tampa Bay, as reported by The Hill, were with the alt-right. In fact, it is more likely that none of them were since those in the alt-right would not be willing to shell out the money for a ticket to one of her shows. Of course, at the time she blamed the alt-right and mocked the people who left her show in an “open letter” that she read publicly.
“Dearest Tampa, I’m sorry you didn’t want me, a comedian who talks about what she believes in, to mention the biggest thing going on in our country right now. How could I think it was OK to spend five minutes having a peaceful conversation with someone with different views? I will go straight to a rehab facility that will teach me how to make all people happy, both the rich, entitled people who are going to vote for him, and the very poor people who get tricked into it.”
Now her latest comedy special on Netflix, The Leather Special, is getting terrible reviews and Schumer has concocted a far-fetched conspiracy theory that the criticisms are coming from a “coordinated campaign by the alt-right,” according to Fox News.
The Chicago Tribune, which is left of center, not alt-right, said of the special, “If only [the show] was as funny as it is dirty.”
The poor reviews could not have been that her performance was cringe-worthy and unfunny, right? Keep in mind that it was only in December when she mocked the people who walked out on her show.
What Amy Schumer and many other Hollywood celebrities fail to consider is that while free speech is protected, it is not always liked. Freedom of expression has its consequences. Sometimes those consequences are far-reaching, and those in the public eye should understand this. Celebrities should especially grasp this since they are in the business of selling themselves to the public. Bad-mouthing people in Tampa Bay and then again in New York in less than a few months is not the way to win fans.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you alienate half of your audience, you stand a good chance to lose up to half of your audience. So if a celebrity wants to take a calculated risk and speak out against (or for) a controversial issue, he or she should reasonably expect some negative feedback for it.
Did she think that since her special was on Netflix, she would be immune from negative consequences? They were filming a special, so it is not likely people were allowed to get up and leave during filming. Maybe that gave her a false sense of accomplishment, but did she think it would protect her from negative reviews? That possibility is very doubtful.
Even if the reviews were a product of the alt-right, she is still the one who has repeatedly gone out on a limb and took the risk of alienating people by speaking in a provocative manner and belittling them. If she does not want the alt-right to be provoked into writing bad reviews, she should not speak provocatively.
It seems to be a matter of “I am allowed to speak bad of you, but you are not allowed to speak bad of me.”
Amy Schumer is not the only celebrity to have suffered for this type of short-sightedness. Quentin Tarantino had a film that did poorly at the box office right after he voiced his views on the controversial issue of gun violence/control, which came across as hypocritical considering the gun violence in all of his movies.
Tarantino’s anti-gun comments came just before releasing The Hateful Eight, which, according to NewsBusters, “contained 49 acts of brutal violence – shootings, stabbings, a hanging, torture, forced gay oral sex, and several incidents where women were shot or beaten. There were 32 separate shootings – including especially graphic headshots.”
Variety reported that on the opening weekend the film only grossed $16.2 million, making it one of Tarantino’s worst openings. Who was to blame for the movie’s poor performance? Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened the same weekend. Obviously, a juggernaut like Star Wars is enough to take the wind out of any movie’s sails, but Tarantino has always had a super loyal fan base. Historically, people who like his films see his films.
The Hateful Eight went on to gross a measly $54 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It was Tarantino’s lowest grossing film besides Reservoir Dogs, which only grossed $2.8 million, and Jackie Brown coming in at $39 million. The difference being that Dogs was his first major motion picture and he was still virtually unknown at the time, and Jackie Brown was just a terrible movie. The point is that, like Amy Schumer, Tarantino did not want to face the possibility that his political views turned some of his fans off, but it is obvious that some of them did not show up and it is too bad because it was a decent movie.
Celebrities are, for all intents and purposes, self-employed business owners. They have a product to sell every time they act in a film or perform in concert. Their customers are the movie/concert-going public. If they wish to maximize their potential sales, it would be wise for them to not speak on a subject where half of their customers are going to disagree with them. That is not to say that they have no right to speak out when they feel strongly about something, but they have to realize that when they do, there may also be repercussions. They might take a vacation now and then, but their businesses are always open.
Amy Schumer and the alt-right could get along if she would tone down her rhetoric and turn up her funny. Conservatives like to laugh just as much as liberals, even if it is at themselves. She can make fun of people and be funny without attacking them. And definitely save the insults for off-stage.
[Featured Image by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]