Final Schumer Restatement, Clarification

There’s been no chatter about my response to Julie Miller’s Vanity Fair conversation with Amy Schumer (posted on 5.4), which included a reference to myself and last February’s Schumergate episode. I’m naturally anticipating more Twitter hate so even though this is a dead-horse issue for regular readers, I’m posting one final clarifying retort. As I noted a few weeks ago, there’s almost no point in responding to these things. The legend or the meme about what I allegedly wrote but did not in fact write has totally taken over. Nobody wants to read or re-examine anything.

At one point during Miller’s chat with Schumer about the “male gaze” factor, Schumer says, “Like the only person who has ever written anything saying that I am not pretty or attractive enough to be on camera was that one guy, Jeff Wells. I did not read [the post], but of course my best friends are like, ‘It was so fucked up!’”

Well, I didn’t say Schumer wasn’t “pretty or attractive enough to be on camera,” which of course mirrors the premise of her 12 Angry Men parody on her Comedy Central show. I wrote that in the context of the first Trainwreck trailer, in which her character was depicted as being the absolute belle of the ball who’s being hit on constantly with this and that guy almost fighting for her attention, she didn’t seem quite as hot as all that. I still think this. Schumer is attractive enough and a spirited barrel of laughs and so on, but in my mind she’s in the realm of 7.5 or 8. Is that really such a terrible thing to think or say?

I’ve tried apologizing for being indelicate and not (in my original post) being sufficiently respectful of Schumer’s obvious wit and brains and talent, but that hasn’t passed muster. I know that in the context of what I wrote I could’ve put it more obliquely but what I said really wasn’t all that fucked up. Both sexes rate each other all the time in the article (Schumer herself rates some guys who were saying that Michelle Williams isn’t all that hot), and all I did was offer my two cents’ worth.

The bottom line is that I didn’t say she was unattractive or not hot enough — I said she was “not conventionally attractive.” (In my mind that means she’s attractive but not in a right-down-the-middle-of-the-road, unmistakable knockdown Kate Upton sense.) The trailer presents her as this hottie whom all these guys are dying to go out with, and I qualified that by saying that by the hound-dog barroom standards of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s “there’s no way she’d be an object of heated romantic interest in the real world, and yet that’s the apparent premise of Apatow’s film.”

The operative adjective was “heated” — there would and should be interest in Schumer as she’s not at all unattractive, but not the kind of attention that women who conventionally rate as 8.5 or 9 or 9.5 would get, which is what the trailer was indicating.

I’m now sorry that I added some other descriptions. That was mean and I’m sorry. Schumer is a sharp, grade-A, highly evolved talent and certainly attractive in her own way, which is totally fine. I should have left it at that.

I’ve been saying all along that attractiveness standards evolve over the eras, that what was considered hot and fetching in the era of Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino wasn’t the same as what audiences of the late ’50s and early ’60s were looking for or excited about, and that over the past 10 or 12 years Judd Apatow has introduced this idea that dweeby twee-male guys and spirited, smart, ball-of-fire, not conventionally attractive women like Schumer and Lena Dunham and Melissa McCarthy are now our era’s standard for conventional attractiveness. In Apatow World, at least.

On 8.8.14 I posted a piece about this Apatow-generated evolution or cultural-changing-of-the-guard called “Rise of the Dreaded Twee-Males.”

“Put simply in a male context, guys who got the girl used to look like guys who got the girl…but no longer. Boiled down further, it’s become increasingly common these days for male romantic also-rans and even occasional romantic leads to fit the dreaded twee mold. The rule of twee means that any homely or marginal or bearded, overfed, gross-looking guy or girl can hook up with good-looking types and nobody bats an eyelash.

“Semi-blubbery Seth Rogen married to and boinking Rose Byrne every which way in Neighbors…if you say so. Mark Duplass making sensitive-guy moves on Melissa McCarthy in Tammy…really? Anne Hathaway being sufficiently taken with Rafe Spall to move in with him in One Day…remarkable.

“In my mind nothing illustrates this all-but-certified attitude more than the fact that Mark Webber, by any measure a dorky, balding, narrow-shouldered, knit-cap-wearing, carrot-haired, sensitive-dweeb beardo type who wouldn’t have been allowed with 100 feet of any hot leading lady during the ’70s or ’80s or even the ’90s, was cast as a romantic-lead opposite Anna Kendrick in Joe Swanberg‘s Happy Christmas and then as Keira Knightley‘s earnest-but-clueless fiance in Laggies.

“During Happy Christmas I couldn’t stop saying to myself, ‘Why does Kendrick find this guy remotely attractive or even acceptable as going-out-to-dinner-with material? What am I missing? If I was a girl or a gay guy I wouldn’t even look at Webber at a party.’

“During Laggies, one of the best girl-friendly romcoms I’ve seen in ages, I was muttering to myself, ‘Knightley is ambivalent about marrying Webber…okay, I get that…but how did she come to accept Webber’s proposal in the first place? He’s not even close to being in her league. This is the second vaguely off-putting relationship she’s been in lately after her relationship with the yukky Adam Levine in Begin Again. What’s her problem?”

  • Dr. Bob

    Remember that Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob kept stepping on the rake , , , ,

    • Thom Phoolery

      How about the one where Jessica thought “Chicken of the Sea” was actually chicken?

  • Dude-O-Reason

    Cringe. Doubling down on the defense is doubling the earth you’re burying yourself with. As noted, it’s a dead horse. Let it lie.

    • What do you think I’m doing, bringing this uo again because I want the attention? It’s been raised in a Vanity Fair piece. Are you thick?

      • Dude-O-Reason

        Is it thick to see you’re trying to clean the dogshit you stepped in with more dogshit?

        Your perspective was clear several posts ago. Schumer’s comment to Vanity Fair doesn’t negate it.

  • Zack Snide Err

    She keeps twisting the knife- i mean, your words around. Anyway, 7.5-8 is generous and presumably accounting for the whole package- not just looks. On looks alone, in my realm (NYC), she’s a 6-7. To echo the others…best you let sleeping dog(s) lie.

    • A Vanity Fair discussion is not a”sleeping dogs” situation.

      • Zack Snide Err

        Fair enough.

        FWIW, the piece was pretty darn lightweight. It doesn’t bolster the
        claim of harshness Vis-a-vis the offending post, when you don’t even
        provide a direct link to it…or, the post’s author…or, his site.

    • K. Bowen

      Meh. If her breasts weren’t large, she would be a 4. At least by Texas standards. I’m with Wells on this one. Actually, I”m past Wells on this one.

  • Storymark

    ” over the past 10 or 12 years Judd Apatow has introduced this idea that dweeby twee-male guys and spirited, smart, ball-of-fire, not conventionally attractive women like Schumer and Lena Dunham and Melissa McCarthy are now our era’s standard for conventional or certainly within-the-realm attractiveness.”

    That you keep thinking that this is something fabricated by Apatow and others, instead of film reflecting changes in actual attitudes, makes you sound hilariously out of touch.

    • Apatow brought it to the fore, fanned the flames,.

      • Gurney Halleck

        LOL Jeff. Gold. It needs to be said.

      • Storymark

        Sure, Jeff. Sure.

      • MrRogerThornhill

        True that. But you have to give Apatow credit for tapping into the Pajama Boy zeitgeist before it had a name.

      • m_00_m

        Didn’t know Apatow invented Fred Flintstone. He should have put that time machine to better use.

      • Paddy77

        No, Woody Allen did. Without who there would be no Judd Apatow ideas to introduce

      • wordfury

        Tell it to The Honeymooners. Pow! Zoom!

        • Thom Phoolery

          Wasn’t it Robert Plant who formed The Honeymooners or am I mistaken?

  • Phat Abbot
  • ChuckWagon

    Ugh. Jeff, bubby, as my mama used to say, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

    • I’m not in a hole. At all. People like you saying that I am doesn’t make it so.

      • ChuckWagon

        The point is is that there’s no winning here for you. We get what you’re trying to say – maybe even agree to an extent – but at this point you’re so far behind this thing that the best course of action is to say nothing at all. Chalk it up as a loss and move on. Like John Goodman’s studio boss said in The Artist (I’m paraphrasing) “The public doesnt like it, and the public is never wrong.”

  • Jeff

    I understand the need to address this again but people just need to suck it up. Schumer is a talented comic and her show is consistently improving and last week was excellent. That said, from a pure looks basis she is at best a 6-7 and that is perfectly fine. She is attractive just not someone who is jawdropping that very attractive men would pursue purely for her looks. I don’t understand why this is a thing, everyone grades everyone. I’ve been rejected dozens of times for not being attractive enough for a girl I was pursuing or a role I wanted to play. Shit happens. It ain’t fun but it’s a part of life. People made fun of the fat CBS sitcom guy with a hot wife forever.

    Entertainment typically skews in the direction of its desired audience. So if it’s a night time soap every dude is gonna have a six pack and be tall dark and handsome. If it’s a stupid comedy geared at men, the guy will be a quirky sometimes chubby comic who somehow has Jessica alba falling all over him.

    Schumer is also the saint of Twitter outrage given the number of very funny sketches she has done on her show geared directly to that crowd.

  • Gurney Halleck

    Amy Schumer’s solipsism is damn near demented. Seriously, what is it with these comedic female writers always having their head up their ass and not knowing how to write about any subject other than themselves? Every time you hear about Schumer it almost always comes down to her being neurotic and insecure about her looks and then blaming society that she feels what she feels. Every supposedly notable sketch from her that’s passed seems to be about her fuckability, attractiveness, or lack thereof. What a feminist hero!!!!

    • Jeff

      There is definitely something to this and pretty much everything she makes that goes viral is amongst the topics you are mentioning. My only counter is that may be par for the course with any comic in their first 5-7 years in the public eye. Comics are notorious for POV and opinion in their material, it’s also par for the course for almost every writer and why we have 50-100 coming of age movies per year.

    • Lou Rawls’ Ego

      It’s like, ya know, like dull.

    • Pete Miesel

      “what is it with these comedic female writers always having their head up their ass and not knowing how to write about any subject other than themselves?”

      I dunno, maybe they see that Woody Allen is in his sixth decade of filmmaking doing exactly that…

      • bill weber

        and his standup was EXACTLY what GH describes above.

    • K. Bowen

      Amy Schumer is the latest medalist in the “Who Cares?” Olympics.

    • K. Bowen

      I mean, I just looked it up. Her premiere episode for 2014 got 2 million viewers. That’s not exactly Back to the Future/Family Ties-era MIchael J. Fox or anything.

    • MisterQuigley

      Great point.

  • herr_plop

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone spill so much digital ink and cling so desperately to semantics in order to avoid saying, simply, “I was wrong – sorry.”

    • GSmith

      Or even “I think I’m right, but I’m a dick, of course.”

  • DukeSavoy

    The Schumergate Episode 2015 color – Jeffrey Wells, Amy Schumer, Seth Rogen, Josh Gaad, Jonah Hill. Dir: Judd Apatow – Dr. Parnassus (Rogen) invents mind projection device and makes captive Internet Blogger (Wells) relive all his sex memories, but with Parnassus’ girlfriend Amy (Schumer) taking the place of Blogger’s actual partners.

  • Paddy77

    ‘I’m the real story here’

    • Slap the side of your thick head with the palm of your hand. I got targeted again, this time in a Vanity Fair piece. And the wisest course of action is to run into my mouse hole and tremble, hoping it’ll all go away?

      • Paddy77

        in your own words: ‘there’s been no chatter about my response’ – so you dug a mouse hole before anybody noticed the mouse

      • bill weber

        You got targeted because you objectify women like the pig you are…

      • Pete Miesel

        Her show tonight was a 20 minute 12 Angry Men parody clearly aimed at you. You are apparently her muse.

  • But didn’t you say she looked like Lou Costello?

    • Let’s not get into that. I said I’m sorry.

      • Historicus

        But alas, that’s part of what caused the clusterfuck in the first place. “The Internet is not written in pencil, it’s written in ink.”

    • Lou Costello, 8/10: WOULD BANG

  • Lou

    I have to admit that Jeff has gotten a bad rap here. Amy Schumer created her own comedic image/voice as being a loose, alcoholic girl who attracts guys because of her sluttiness. Her stand-up mainly came out of her brazen openness about this image, and the juxtaposition of her quick wit against her bimbo/floozy stage character.

    Her TV show is brilliant (better than her standup, IMHO), and she has mined the topic of female image for comedy gold, and Jeff wasn’t wrong or out of line, he just gave her some renewed, current media relevancy to use for additional material in the same vein about her stage image.

    It seems perfectly acceptable for Jeff to point out that hers is not the typical movie “it” girl appearance, even if she is in reality attractive, witty, and funny, but for her to play the “all guys are fumbling over themselves and salivating to get her” character is to continue her ironic approach to sex-based comedy that she’s been doing these past few years. It shouldn’t be twitter-shocking to point it out.

  • Savage Brit

    It’s strange that whenever a performer is plain in appearance or offbeat, the casting of them as a romantic lead can have credibility problems if not handled properly. If the performer is also an auteur, writing and directing the vehicle they’re in, then narcissism and delusions come into play. Officially the artist is expressing how they see themselves which is fair game for analysis. Men were formerly the recipient of this scrutiny more than women, with overweight or decidedly older male leads being called on the carpet repeatedly, but using the same prism on women brings about charges of sexism and troglodyte attitudes if the author is male. The arrogant and unfunny Daniel Tosh said something much more hostile about a woman that wasn’t part of an objective critique, but the widespread defensiveness in this case feels more personal. Maybe because now a cinematic everyman or everywoman seems to more truly represent their audience. With the demystification of movie stars thanks to the overabundance of social media, coupled with the emergence of rougher edged reality stars, maybe the massive pushback can be attributed to people feeling they’re being personally attacked. These performers now serve as designated representatives of their audiences versus the former matinee idols the masses aspired to be.

  • Maybe Mark Webber’s characters in Laggies and Happy Christmas have a big ole fuckstick that gets the ladies off every time?

    But who the fuck cares, really? I’ve dated and married above my class, in good part because I am a gentleman and feminist at heart. I made them genuinely laugh, I opened the door for them, I listened to them while they were talking, and once we coupled, I did my share of the housework without bitching about it.

    I don’t find Amy Schumer all that attractive or all that funny, but I’m just one guy. I doubt she would give a flying fuck what I have to think, nor should she. I’m sure she’s find me lacking in the looks department, although I could probably make her laugh regularly. But it doesn’t really matter. I’ll never date her, she’ll never date me. I can imagine her hooking up with a guy like Bill Hader (very funny, not exactly a looker himself), and I can imagine a lot of guys willing to fuck her after a night of drinking, so I don’t find the premise of Trainwreck to be all that off base. I just hope it’s a funny movie. It looks funnier than Ted 2, which needs to be destroyed with extreme prejudice.

  • Perfect Tommy

    This is all just Barbra Streisand.

  • Addison Wilhite

    There seems to be some misunderstanding about what twee means in reference to men’s looks. Seth Rogen is NOT twee.

  • Pete Miesel

    She kinda went after you again tonight..

    • What?

      • Pete Miesel

        She did a 19 minute 12 Angry Men parody that pretty clearly was a response to what you said.

        • Lou

          No, if you RTFA (Vanity Fair) it was inspired by a conversation she overheard about Michelle Williams. Jeff fed into the same issue, but it wasn’t a direct response to that.

          • Pete Miesel

            No need for cursing abbreviations. Come on, our boy can hit the big time if a semi-prominent cable TV comedian is going after him. It’s no Spielberg or Jason Segal, but if life gives you oversized doughy lemons..

  • You said it wasn’t realistic for men to be pursuing her “in the real world.” You still haven’t found the real world.