27 September 2016

Amy Schumer: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

These media personality-turned-writer type memoirs are always my favourite types of books to read, I have a huge collection. Naturally I was pumped to learn Amy Schumer was writing her own book and I devoured it in a full weekend at home on the porch. Before 2015 I didn't know a lot about Schumer and she's sort of been a breath of fresh air for pop culture in my opinion. Her book is about the same, it's that punch of confidence we all need but saturated in the self-pity we all share.

The book reads pretty similarly to any other memoir of this type. It's broken down into essays that tell you stories of her childhood, her early career failures, her relationships, etc. I personally love essay style memoirs because it gives you all the important bits without completely boring you to death. My personal favourite essay is one about her dad. It's personal, funny, and heartwarming, but I'm biased because I'm obsessed with my own dad.

I felt there were some awesome life lessons during this read. There's a great essay about her dating this hot guy who turns out to have a scary, hoarder-style apartment. The point here is that every single person you idolize has something really fucked up about them that you just can't see. Let's take a moment to really internalize this. Also, the title of the book, which was annoying to me at first, actually has meaning that resonated with me a lot. You can learn all about it yourself if you read the book because Meghan dubbed this a spoiler-free blog.

She uses an acceptable amount of writing to discuss social issues such as feminism and gun control. She does it in a way that's very 'I want to use my platform for good' and not 'let's cram social issues down readers throats' so that it comes across as important and not annoying. The gun control issue is close to Schumer because two girls were killed in a shooting at one of the screenings of her film (something I didn't know about).

She gets into the feminism issue more anecdotal-y as she's discussing the press tour for her movie. I am by no means the right person to discuss feminism- I am a female and I like to be respected but I don't know the half of it and I'm sure even some of the things I say could be taken the wrong way. (The whole #morethanadress thing at the Academy Awards for example is annoying to me- I want to hear about the dress.) Anyways. Trainwreck has an autobiographical element for Schumer and having people call her a slut or a whore for behaviour that we deem acceptable for men obviously pissed her off. As well, she points out how awful it is to have her film be described as a 'female comedy'. 

"After putting in so much effort to make a good movie, it felt pretty demeaning when they called it a 'female comedy'. This meaningless label painted me into a corner and forced me to speak for all females... They don't make 'men's comedies'. They don't ask Ben Stiller, 'Hey, Ben, what was your message for all male-kind when you pretended to have diarrhea and chased the ferret in Along Came Polly?'"

Or when the press would ask her if this was 'an exciting time for women in Hollywood'...

"And besides, Hollywood is not at all exciting for women. I'm sure no one is too shocked to hear that it's an industry of people who judge most women almost solely on their appearance, and where every day women feel themselves barreling toward death and decay while smaller, hotter actresses like Selena keep appearing like Russian nesting dolls."

Her point is just that it will be exciting for women when they don't have to be asked women-specific questions anymore, and she paints it in a way that even I understand, even though I do want to know about the dresses.

I've always felt that comedians were the bravest humans ever. It's less about talent than other performing arts (in my opinion), and more about hard work. You have to go on stage and say 'hey I think I'm really funny' and put yourself out there over and over again. This book really makes you respect the work they do. I've read books by Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman - even a book by Judd Apatow about comedians - and I don't think I've ever felt as in awe about the 'craft' as I have after reading Schumer's book. One part I really liked was her discussing how she would never have had someone as amazing as Chris Rock to direct her HBO special if she hadn't just been brave enough to ask him. That's something that comes across so clear throughout the book- her god damn bravery that most of us can only dream of.

I really, really enjoyed reading this and if you're female I guarantee you'll also love it. I have read a lot of memoirs like it and it's definitely in my top three. I find Schumer to be charming, funny, honest, and vulnerable without being on soapbox. An off-putting quality for me of some similar memoirs is that they feel they're somehow better than their readers, of suffered more, or had it harder... and that's not the case here at all.

One of my favourite things to learn is that she met her current boyfriend on a dating app. He's just a normal civilian who happened to swipe right to Amy Schumer, isn't that amazing?

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