Amy Schumer's exit from the Barbie movie demands the kind of follow up questions reporters should ask. So why won't they?
So Hollywood’s preeminent feminist won’t be playing Barbie on the big screen after all.
We recently learned comedienne Amy Schumer decided against starring in the film version of the beloved Mattel toy.
Why? Scheduling conflicts, according to Variety which broke the news.
Sadly, I’m no longer able to commit to Barbie due to scheduling conflicts,” the actress said in a statement to Variety. “The film has so much promise, and Sony and Mattel have been great partners. I’m bummed, but look forward to seeing Barbie on the big screen.
Why would the “It” comic of the moment quit a gig that could magnify her thoughts on being female in the 21st century? The project, according to media reports, focuses not on those unattainable Barbie curves but on a feminist twist on the brand.
She agreed to the project months ago and helped spit-polish the script. Clearly, the brand and its potential mean something to her.
Now she’s out. Does that make sense? It’s the kind of story that demands a second-day follow up. Only that never happened.
Brand Protection 101
The press protects Schumer. She’s an outspoken liberal who puts her time and money behind progressive causes. That means reporters would be less than eager to ask the kind of questions that should be explored given the Barbie switcheroo.
Is Schumer’s brand too toxic now for a mainstream project?
Does her aggressively sexual shtick conflict with a family-friendly franchise?
Did Schumer calling Trump voters KKK members hurt her perceived box office clout?
Who made the final call on Schumer leaving the project? The actress … or Team Mattel?
You know who asked some of those questions following the announcement? Readers of the very sites listed above. Here’s a sample from the Variety comments section:
In the first place, why hire a “comedian” who isn’t funny and who is such a partisan fanatic that she insults half the country with her constant political preaching? Is it because Amy Schumer has blond hair?
She didn’t “drop out”. She was likely let go because the movie execs foresaw that the movie would BOMB if they kept the Leftist Fascist Schumer as part of the cast.
Mattel was not going to have their crown jewel tarnished. Imagine someone editing the Barbie trailer with clips of Schumer’s stand up special with her talking about her vagina stinking.
This reader comment from the incurious Deadline.com article put it even better:
Does anybody believe this? Stupid casting to begin with, but producers have no doubt watched Schumer become one of Hollywood’s most hated people in the eyes of the American public.
Her Netflix thing was unwatchable, her cable show’s not coming back, she’s got a reputation as a joke thief, and even her ad campaign for Bud Light drove down sales so badly they cancelled it early. Once she was a breath of fresh air, but now people are repelled by Amy Schumer. Count me among them, and I watched every episode of her TV show.
These aren’t journalists whose job it is to cover Hollywood. They’re just movie goers who understand the big picture. They also have a sensible skepticism toward news peddled by a celebrity.
You know, like the kind reporters are supposed to have.
Consider comments by Mattel COO Richard Dickson about the brand’s move into the film space. The company has film projects involving both Barbie and Hot Wheels in motion. It’s clearly a major effort, one with millions (billions?) at stake.
Here’s Dickson outlining the move to the Associated Press:
Kids today can obviously skip commercials. And screen time today is not one screen, it’s multiple screens. Our objective is to be everywhere our consumers are. They are on their phone. They are on their laptop. They’re on their iPad. They’re on their television. There is no center.
Now, would Mattel really want the woman who frontlined Amy Schumer: The Leather Special to be its Barbie?
The new, widely panned stand-up special is as coarse as any comedy routine around.The first half of the routine involves Schumer’s painstakingly detailing her sex life.
Might that conflict with the Barbie brand a wee bit? What about her attacks on the Second Amendment and its proponents?
Conversely, what if Schumer’s next film project is a smash? Snatched, co-starring Goldie Hawn, hits theaters May 12. Wouldn’t Mattel fight to keep Schumer on board if that movie was a smash? Or tracking as such?
Perhaps the opposite is true … and Mattel acted proactively to install another star in the feature?
Heck, Mattel might be sorry to see Schumer go, not realizing just how toxic her brand is to many movie goers.
Let’s not forget the other partner in the Barbie movie project: Sony. That studio put all its chips behind the Ghostbusters reboot last year. The film got entangled in the culture wars, and no one from the studio appeared eager to stop it.
Sony movie executive Tom Rothman personally gloated over it, in fact. What happened? Ghostbusters underperformed to the tune of a $70 million loss.
Free Speech. Free Consequences
Schumer can say what she wants. She can turn her comedy specials into quasi-gynecological exams. She can lay waste to roughly half of America with her political rants.
And her career might survive, even thrive, as a result.
Or audiences could see her as a divisive figure best left for niche projects. Not a movie based on a nearly 60-year-old brand.
Maybe the whole kerfuffle was all about scheduling. It’s possible. Ignoring the other elements of the story simply doesn’t make sense, though.
Schumer has sculpted her fame and public image to her liking. That may have consequences, for better or worse. Shouldn’t the media at the very least acknowledge that fact?
[Cross-posted at Hollywood in Toto.]