Just two years ago Amy Schumer’s star began a meteoric rise. The “Last F**kable Day” sketch, a wry, genius examination of women’s expiration dates in Hollywood that featured Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette, went viral after it aired on the third season of her series Inside Amy Schumer. Later in 2015, she hurtled further into the limelight when Trainwreck, an unapologetically raunchy comedy about a woman afraid of commitment, which Schumer wrote and starred in, landed in theaters and garnered big box-office receipts. Flash forward two years and trolls on Reddit have deliberately tanked the ratings on her new Netflix stand-up comedy special, Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, and the hate is palpable.
Last summer, internet trolls deliberately tanked IMDB ratings for the Ghostbusters reboot before they could have possibly seen it. They also deliberately down-voted the movie’s trailer on YouTube, according to The Washington Post. While commenters on the movie trailer’s YouTube page were primarily forthright about their misogyny — the film was, of course, a retooling of a beloved franchise of ’80s fanboys, but for the reboot, four of the wittiest female comics of our time stepped into the lead roles (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon). A few choice comments on the Ghostbusters trailer’s YouTube page included “Women are just incapable of being funny. What a terrible idea” and “Shouldn’t they be in the kitchen?”
But the vitriol aimed at Schumer is more complicated, or the trolls have learned since Ghostbusters to disguise misogyny as something else. It should be noted, as The Mary Sue pointed out, that conservative and alt-right sites including Fox News, The Federalist, and Breitbart (the site that Donald Trump’s right-hand man Steve Bannon helped found) all gleefully glommed on to the news that Schumer’s special had received hundreds of one-star reviews out of 900 in just a few days of its release last weekend. Upon closer inspection by the site Splitsider, an alt-right Reddit thread encouraged users to purposefully tank her comedy show’s ratings with charming calls to action like this: “To those that still have Netflix; Netflix just added a new Amy Schumer special, please go and 1 star that piece of shit.”
It’s not the first time Redditors sought to interfere with Schumer’s career. There was a thread last fall dedicated to manipulating reviews and ratings of her comic memoir The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. Users on the thread "the_Donald" were determined to undermine the positive ratings her book initially received. One user proudly proclaimed, “I'm committed. I'm marking positive reviews as 'not helpful' and crappy reviews as 'helpful.' This a disgusting human being folks. She deserves our commitment to her downfall.”
To be sure, Schumer’s humor traffics in gross-out jokes and in-your-face deconstruction of sex and the human body (mostly her own her sexual activity and her own body). At times deeply feminist and at times just plain gross, her humor is not for everyone. But a closer examination of another Reddit thread dedicated to tearing her down but wrapped in what is called “concern trolling” purports to shred her as some sort of twisted public service. The reasons for abhorring her range from asserting that she’s not funny to the fact that she’s been called out for stealing other comics’ jokes to calling her out for an admittedly tasteless joke she made at a Charlie Sheen roast about Steve-O’s (a regular on Jackass, remember him?) friend who had died.
One Redditor on the “concern” thread was kind enough to break down the various reasons he/she despises Schumer. Those reasons included “Made a Budlite commercial perpetuating the disproved 'wage gap' (not the 'earnings gap'); Blames her books failure on ‘Internet trolls'; Is a SJW (social justice warrior); advocates the belief of ‘rape culture.’”
Of course, people are allowed to despise Schumer for her humor, her politics, her feminism, her frank discussion of her reproductive organs, her missteps, etc. But the real issue is rooted in the hypocrisy of the organized attacks against her. If actual concern or a moral belief system is the source of the organized attacks on her, then how did anti-Semite and misogynist Mel Gibson land an Oscar nomination, how did admitted sexual harasser Casey Affleck win an Oscar, and how did proud "I grab women by the pussy” Donald Trump become president?
Schumer responded to the trolling, thanking the trolls for their passion and admonishing the sites that reported on the organized attacks on her show as if it were actual news. “I am embarrassed for the 'journalists' who report on trolls activities as if it's news,” Schumer wrote in an Instagram post. “It's indicative of administration right now. Anyone who reported that 'viewers aren't happy' with my special, it would have been cool if you did a moment of research before posting. Call me a whale. Call me a thief and I will continue to rise and fight and lead. I know who I am. I am strong and beautiful and will use my voice my whole time on this earth. Journalists do better it's embarrassing. Trolls see you on the next one!”