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?”