WASHINGTON — The week of Amy Schumer’s book release in mid-August didn’t exactly go as planned, public relations-wise. Kurt Metzger, her friend and a writer on Comedy Central’s ‘‘Inside Amy Schumer,’’ wrote a viral Facebook post about rape and believing sexual assault victims that drew major backlash. As the most famous person associated with him, Schumer was in the middle of the controversy, just as she was already in the spotlight for her book.
‘‘What he was saying was horrific, and he was being a troll. He can be an Internet troll,’’ Schumer told Lena Dunham in a Q&A in Friday’s edition of Dunham’s e-newsletter, Lenny. ‘‘The fact that I had to answer for it. . . . I was like, ‘Ugh, why this week?’ [Jokingly:] I was like, if there’s scandals, can’t they be about me?’’
‘‘I know, you’re like, why aren’t you focusing on my rape and my broken relationship with my mother?’’ Dunham responded, referencing two chapters in Schumer’s book, ‘‘The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.’’
‘‘I do understand that [Kurt’s actions] would come back to me. . . . I get it. I get it, and I wasn’t even resentful of the connection. I was resentful of the lack of trust,’’ Schumer said. ‘‘Like, ‘Have I earned any good will with you guys? Do you believe that I feel that rape victims should be shamed on the Internet? Have I built up any sort of good will?’ ‘‘
Schumer has become one of the most famous feminist comics tackling topics including sexual assault, such as her famous ‘‘Friday Night Lights’’ parody on her show, about a new high school football coach with one rule for his players: ‘‘No raping.’’ As the New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino recently pointed out, Schumer’s outspokenness about this very subject is one of the reasons her fans were upset about her initial, lukewarm response to Metzger’s comments (saying she was ‘‘saddened and disappointed”) - and that she blocked critics on Twitter.
‘‘While Schumer excels at sending messages, her medium is not the social-media denouncement or the op-ed. She expresses her feminism, which is brash, honest, irregular, and sincere, entirely through comedy,’’ Tolentino wrote, adding, ‘‘For the rest of her career, Schumer’s fans will demand political accountability of her - not without reason but often to little effect.’’
Metzger has repeatedly made inflammatory comments about rape - the most recent Facebook post was reportedly inspired by a comedian banned from the sketch group Upright Citizens Brigade after allegedly sexually assaulting female comics. Metzger’s post said, in part, ‘‘Guys I have just heard some disturbing news, this guy Jiff Dilfyberg is a rapist! I know because women said it and that’s all I need! Never you mind who they are. They are women! ALL women are as reliable as my bible! A book that, much like a women, is incapable of lying!’’
At first, while Schumer called Metzger a ‘‘friend and a great writer,’’ she also tried to distance herself a bit when people started tweeting her. She said that Metzger is not currently a writer on her show (because ‘‘Inside Amy Schumer’’ isn’t scheduled to come back anytime soon) and asked fans to ‘‘Please stop asking me about it. His words are not mine.’’ Eventually, she elaborated during an interview with Charlie Rose.
‘‘He gets something from going after people, making them mad,’’ Schumer said. ‘‘That is not representative of me at all . . . whatever tangent he’s gone off on, I have not agreed with, and it’s been really upsetting to me.’’ Schumer added she would love to ‘‘refocus the energy and the attention on the real problem, which is . . . about rape, and what’s consensual and what’s not.’’
In the interview with Dunham, Schumer also acknowledged that Metzger has a history of angering people online even though she tells him to stop.
‘‘It’s been years that he’s been doing this. He’s one of those guys, like a lot of the guys that I’m friends with, who are degenerates. Kurt was saying this awful stuff, and in previous years, I would be like, ‘You’ve got to shut up.’ He’d be like, ‘All right,’ ” Schumer said. ‘‘Then it would kind of go away. This time, it was just so bad. But also, why are these women treating him like he raped someone? He’s not Bill Cosby; Kurt has never raped.’’