Amy Schumer can’t even put C-3PO’s golden finger in her mouth without stirring up some controversy.
Fresh off the heels of seven Emmy nominations for her Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer, and just in time for the release of Trainwreck, her first starring vehicle released Friday, a new GQ cover story featuring the comedian in suggestive poses with C-3PO and company is upsetting both diehard Star Wars fans, who are shocked that George Lucas’s iconic characters were depicted so scandalously, and feminists, who are surprised that Schumer stripped down at all with said characters.
Other spreads in the GQ article, titled “Amy Schumer is the Funniest Woman in the Galaxy” show Schumer hanging in the backseat with a hirsute Chewbacca, C-3PO and Yoda; naked in bed with R2-D2 and C-3PO, doing shots in a gay bar with those same droid friends and engaging in what might be the first documented case of lightsaber fellatio. (Presumably no cheeks were harmed in the making of these images, shot by acclaimed celebrity photographer Mark Seliger.)
The most curious turn took place on Thursday night, when Lucasfilm took a humorless stance, tweeting “Lucasfilm & Disney didn’t approve, participate in or condone the inappropriate use of our characters in this manner.” Of course, there are strict licensing rules regarding the use of copyrighted material, but when it comes to parody — which this clearly is — there’s likely nothing they can do.
Much of Schumer’s comedy pokes at all the ways Hollywood corrals women into neat little pens: they can be funny, but not beautiful; hot yet completely vapid; talented but nonthreatening. Posing for “scandalous” photos with the beloved characters not only mocks man’s obsession with the Star Wars canon but also completely aligns with the rest of her subversive comedy, and ties in nicely to Trainwreck, where she plays a writer at a men’s magazine. Talk about a hat trick.
Critics in the The Guardian and elsewhere are also taking aim at the photos, writing that “to see a cover where the GQ staff literally took a woman who speaks for a living and shoved a penis-stand-in into her mouth is distressing.” As Jessica Valenti writes, “The cover is a reminder that no matter how far a woman comes – even if she’s a successful, unabashed feminist – there’s always someone waiting to put her back in her place, with a finger in her mouth.”
It’s worthwhile to note that Schumer is also one of the only female comedians to front the magazine, and to wonder if fan reaction to the space epic homage would be different if, say, previous cover stars Rihanna or Rita Ora or Kate Upton were the ones high-kicking with stormtroopers. Perhaps the ire stems from the fiery combination of someone who is rarely serious yoked with a trilogy that’s been quite serious since 1977.
Lucasfilm’s reaction was likely spurred by Twitter, which became, as per usual, a soundboard of complaints, mainly from angry Star Wars fans. Others seem to be having a bit of fun: One dude simply proclaimed “Childhood ruined.” Still more are proclaiming it “decent nerd porn” and pretty good hype for J.J. Abrams’ December 2015 installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which presumably will not feature an R2-D2 and C-3PO threesome.
Since its creation in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars has been lampooned and also inspired plenty of pop culture moments. Remember when Rachel wore the full-on Leia slave-girl outfit for a geeked-out Ross on Friends? Then there was a little movie called Spaceballs. One satire even received the blessing of the Creator himself. When Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane spoofed Star Wars over three episodes, George Lucas not only signed off on the risqué parody, but he also invited the Family Guy gang over to watch it at Skywalker Ranch.
Meanwhile, Schumer hasn’t acknowledged any drama, and is retweeting fans across the U.S. who are selfie-ing from sold-out Trainwreck screenings. GQ hasn’t commented, but capitalized on the publicity by uploading a video called “How Amy Schumer Got Into Bed with Star Wars” (in which she gets even more explicit with the droids), and publishing another article on the site, “Here’s How Amy Schumer Would Have Changed Her GQ Cover,” featuring joke coverlines, exactly none of which would make for polite dinner party conversation.
Clearly, she’s playing — and soundly beating — the publicity game. As Yoda would say, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”