Should Tweets Get You Fired?
As we (hopefully) draw to a close on the entire Kurt Metzger shit show of 2016 (not to be confused with the KMSS of 2013 or 2015), there’s one part of this whole ordeal that stands out as especially divisive, and that’s the decision, made by a bunch of Twitter users, to loop Metzger’s boss, Amy Schumer into the conversation.
As Courtney wrote earlier, Schumer reacted to the direct mentions by blocking those users. She came out today, though, with a very carefully worded response.
I am so saddened and disappointed in Kurt Metzger. He is my friend and a great writer and I couldn't be more against his recent actions.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
Kurt does not work for me. He is not a writer on my show. Please stop asking me about it. His words are not mine.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
The immediate assumption here may be that she and/or Comedy Central let Metzger go. But that isn’t actually what Schumer said. Maybe it’s semantics, as he was seemingly promoted to producer last year. Maybe he had already left the show to do other things. But Schumer is his friend. And she wants us to stop dragging her into this.
When we talk about someone losing their job over tweets, it’s a complicated subject, because, well, there are a lot of garbage people out there, and if everyone who was an asshole online was fired for it, the majority of the American workforce would disappear overnight. (Also, as a side note, if you haven’t read the spectacular So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, do so.)
But here’s where things get tricky. Because Schumer says “his words are not mine.” Except they actually are. This is not a normal job. Metzger is part of a team, writing words that represent Schumer, because that’s what happens when you star in a show with your name in the title: the content, and, by extension, the team behind that content, is inextricably tied to the perception of who you are as a person.
So when people question Amy Schumer’s choice to have Metzger write for her, it doesn’t mean he is being branded a generally and permanently unhireable human (officially). But maybe this specific show isn’t the best fit for him. This show, which is based on a very specific brand of brash, outspoken feminism in comedy. This show, which has taken on rape culture and perceptions of womanhood, all centered around a woman who has talked openly about her own experiences with nonconsensual sex. THIS IN PARTICULAR might not be the best fit for someone who has spent the last day yelling down women who are trying to live and work safely in the world.
What if (settle in, I’m talking to your imagination here) if it came out that a writer at Warner Bros, a writer who worked on Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, who was working on Wonder Woman, and all the rest for the foreseeable future, imagine if she woke up one day and started throwing up long, screamy, antagonistic Twitter rants about how dumb DC Comics were. She makes it known that she thinks DC could fix all their problems if they just put Iron Man in their movies, or a couple of X-Men, and no matter how many fans pipe in to tell her that while sure, Iron Man is great, that’s not really a solution here, she simply tells us all we’re wrong. And she does so in a way that make it clear she hates us, and also hates and doesn’t understand DC comics.
Wouldn’t DC fans be within their rights to speak out online, and question why that person had that job? If a person working on a piece of beloved entertainment turned out to have a deep-seated loathing for its subject matter, and THEY CHOSE to make that loathing known, would we really feel Warner Bros. wouldn’t be making the right (or at least an understandable) choice in removing them form that job?
If your company hired a social media manager, and then that person started ranting loudly about how all communication should be done in person because that’s the most effective way to get your thoughts across, started saying anyone who chose to communicate via Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat was communicating wrong and stupidly because WHY NOT JUST TELL PEOPLE YOUR THOUGHTS IN PERSON?— that person would be swiftly removed, and for good reason. They’re not a good fit for their specific job. And neither is Kurt Metzger.
We don’t don’t have to agree with everything Metzger says, but this week he made it clear that he has a whole lot of hostility towards women, and towards women in the comedy industry, in particular. I’m not saying he should never be hired anywhere, or be banned from all clubs. (I may think that, but for the purposes of this conversation, I’m not calling for that). But Inside Amy Schumer is a deeply feminist show. And Metzger just rage-vomited all over women who were just trying to make sure they didn’t have to share stage time with a rapist, and then vomited again all over everyone who dared question him.
So hollering at Amy Schumer to ask why she was continuing to let such an antagonistic, mean, misogynistic piece of garbage write words for her feminist-branded show— that seems perfectly reasonable.
(And as a bonus, no one was arrested! Because, you know, that’s the only thing here that would have been a violation of that “free speech” thing I didn’t want to otherwise dignify by way of response.)