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Calling out Amy Schumer

3 minute read
Sexisim is no laughing matter, Amy Schumer: Photo by Peter Yang.
Sexisim is no laughing matter, Amy Schumer: Photo by Peter Yang.

Dear Amy,

Put your money where your mouth is, Ms. Schumer.

Your shrewd, acerbic, and very funny comedy celebrates that you can put your mouth anywhere you want. And I applaud you. I celebrate the barriers and barricades smashed down by you and Sarah Silverman and those brilliant comedy broads who came before. You became a hero to every female when you recognized that holding an aspirin between your knees makes it hard to stand up straight. And that the only good idea that came from leaning back is ordering pizza.

And embrace it or not, Amy, you and your show have become role models. Young women get out of the giggle closet and demand their rights to have sexual foibles, faux pas, and follies. Just like the guys have been doing for decades.

But, on a recent sketch, when you turned your camera onto the crew, there were no women. No woman on a boom, or sound, or camera staring back at you.

I know you and many of the writing staff are proudly female, bright and witty women like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and the Nora Ephrons and Gail Parents who came before them. But some females coming out of film school want to be sound mixers and camera operators. And those positions are far and few between for us.

From Fanny Brice to Moms Mabley, Phyllis Diller to Joan Rivers, women have been breaking down comedy barriers, even if it’s only one door at a time. But getting inroads to the less visible jobs in show business is even harder. There is no audience to cheer them on. No ticket sales or ratings to confirm women holding their own. Feminist Hollywood can brag that Katniss is the most successful action hero of the year and that the gals of Frozen have melted hearts and fired up record profits, but look at the list below the headliners. How many women are actual crew members on those exhaustive rolls of credits? Can’t Best Boy be Best Girl?

A band of outsiders

The established business world of the early 20th century barely noticed the fledgling business that became Hollywood. Outsiders founded the new world. Jews, gays, and women were accepted amongst the in-crowd. There were prominent women writers and many directors. However, mounting profits and solvency of jobs pushed those women upstarts to the sidelines. Men could now be men in movies.

There were a few exceptions. But, like other roles, the title Script Girl became Script Supervisor when men realized the vital contribution the position plays in effective filmmaking. So, now boys can do the job, with pride. Wouldn’t it be cool if we made them keep the tag Script Girl?

Women have paid dues as the makers of coffee, the takers of notes, the typers of scripts: the office wives of the industry. We can all point to makeup departments and costumes, even the great editors Dede Allen and Thelma Schoonmaker. Yet for every one woman with a foot in the golden door, there are dozens more waiting on the doormat.

Now it’s time to midwife a new generation of camera people, production managers, sound designers, cinematographers, gaffers, grips, and directors — so when the camera turns around and you, Amy Schumer, ask who would like to sleep with you, some girls will be on your crew to raise their soft, dainty hands.

Your friend,

Susan

What, When, Where

Inside Amy Schumer. Created by Daniel Powell and Amy Schumer. Comedy Central, Tuesdays at 10:30, 9:30 Central. http://www.cc.com/shows/inside-amy-schumer

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