Many of us read the play, 12 Angry Men, in middle school. Never once did we think the story could ever be a platform for discussing how women on television are portrayed. Leave it to rising comedic genius, Amy Schumer, to do it.
After hosting the MTV Movie Awards and promoting her upcoming film Trainwreck with Bill Hader, we almost forgot about Amy's sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, on Comedy Central — almost.
In tonight's black and white sketch that lasts nearly the entire episode, we go back in time to the 1950s, where men were unabashedly sexist. The title of the sketch, "12 Angry Men," says it all. Amy goes on trial, having committed a heinous crime: She has her own TV show but doesn't fit into the pretty, skinny, vapid actress stereotype created by men. Though Schumer's barely in the episode, her sharp wit and self-deprecating humor fill every hilarious moment.
The "angry men" include John Hawkes, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Giamatti and Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell from the notoriously sexist world of Mad Men). Giamatti is the most disgusted by Amy's appearance, saying to another juror who wants to vote Amy "not guilty" of her crime, "Let's be reasonable. You sat in that courtroom, staring at the same potato face we all did for the last three months."
But then, Giamatti gets to the heart of the matter — would any of the jurors "bang her?"
Here's the mysoginistic trope laid out in only a way that Tina Fey could do, until now. Does the woman a man watches on TV provide a sexual fantasy for him or, at the very least, masturbatory material?
Tina Fey has for years examined this double standard for women on television. Usually, she empowers the less attractive woman and lets her succeed in ways only the pretty character usually does. But here is Amy Schumer taking her entire show to pick apart why and why not Amy Schumer is "hot enough." Some of it is terribly brutal, like when Giamatti refers to her as a "quirky-looking dump truck," and some of it is hilarious, like when he says, "She's built like a lineman and her face has Cabbage Patch features."
We have to thoroughly applaud Amy Schumer for using her own image to start a conversation about men's unrealistic physical expectations of women and smashing the stereotype that women aren't funny. Amy Schumer clearly has been paying attention to Tina Fey for the last decade and we bet Tina couldn't be prouder.
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