Amy Schumer can't laugh off the backlash she received for getting in "Formation" with Joan Cusack, Raven Goodwin, Goldie Hawn and Wanda Sykes on the set of their upcoming movie.
While shooting their adventure comedy in Hawaii over the summer, the comedienne and the film's largely female cast and crew filmed a music video set to Beyoncé's anthem "Formation." Schumer premiered the clip on Tidal—the subscription-based music streaming service owned by Beyoncé's husband, Jay-Z—on Oct. 21, and she later shared it via her own YouTube channel.
After its release, Schumer was surprised to learn that so many people had been offended by her tribute to Queen Bey. For days, people on Twitter called her "ignorant," "problematic" and "racist." So, Schumer took to Instagram to defend the project. "You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation," she wrote, quoting the lyrics. "Thanks for the exclusive release Tidal! We had so much fun making this tribute. All love and women inspiring each other." But because she didn't say "sorry," the backlash worsened. The Washington Post's Bethonie Butler, for example, published an op-ed Oct. 26 in which she analyzed Schumer's non-apology.
Noting that the video's "rotating cast of extras are mostly women of color," Butler claimed the actress "lacks the awareness needed to mine meaningful humor from such a hot-button topic." Butler also pointed out past incidences of Schumer's race-related humor. "It's hard to figure out the point—any point—of Schumer's video. Even as she addressed the controversy, Schumer described the video as a 'tribute,'" she wrote. "Is it even comedy? (It's not particularly funny.)"
So, on Thursday, Schumer shared her side of the story with the people she had inadvertently hurt. "Saying I love Beyoncé's album Lemonade is a huge understatement. I believe it is one of the greatest pieces of art of our time," Schumer wrote on Medium. In fact, the cast and crew of her still-untitled movie would often listen to Lemonade on repeat while they were filming on location in Hawaii. Schumer and her colleagues were inspired by the election, and they would often watch videos of Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and other "extraordinary women" discussing tough issues facing the nation. "All of the women on set were bonded together from this music and from the election simultaneously," she explained. "It was such a powerful time."
"I love how in the lyrics of 'Formation' Beyoncé is telling us to get in formation. And also I like to think she is telling us ladies to get information. I did not mean to detract any of the meaning from the video. I am of course horrified and sickened by the events that are addressed throughout that video and didn't see this as minimizing that and still don't," she said. "It was a way to celebrate bringing us all together. To fight for what we all want. And to do it together."
"Lemonade brought us all together. We listened to the album and danced every day, always making everyone feel better no matter what we were going through. We were so into it that we learned the dance to 'Formation.' It got us through this summer...To have Goldie Hawn dancing with Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack and Raven Goodwin and all the female writers and producers and crew from all over the world doing this together felt very powerful and right."
To be clear, Schumer said, "It was NEVER a parody. It was just us women celebrating each other. The video Beyoncé made was so moving and I wouldn't ever make fun of that. There is absolutely no way to. I make fun of myself a few times in the video as I do in everything I am a part of. I loved every second of working with those women to make this thing that lifted us up."
Schumer didn't intend to make anyone feel bad. "The movie we made is fun and the women in it are strong and want to help each other," the actress said. "That's what it was about for me."
Now that she's cleared the air, Schumer would like people to move on. "You have every right to feel however you feel about the video and me but I want you to know I'm not going anywhere. Use whatever hashtag you like," she wrote. "My mission is to continue to work as hard as I can to empower women and make them laugh and feel better and I won't let anything stop me."
Spoken like a true Beyoncé fan.