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Comments: Week of June 16, 2014

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1. “Together and apart, they were constantly pondering how to improve the movie business,” wrote Lynn Hirschberg in a cover profile of breakout actresses (and new BFFs) Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson and the philosophy (hippieish, girl power–y) they hope might change how actresses are perceived (The Sisterhood of Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson,” June 2–8). “Shailene is dancing to the beat of her own drum, and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it,” wrote Mandi Salerno at Pop Crush. “If [the article] is to be believed, these two are going to revolutionize Hollywood for all Woman (or Human) kind,” wrote Kate Dries at Jezebel. But, she added, “there’s not a clear indication of exactly what the two are going to do to ‘fix’ Hollywood specifically. We do learn that they plan to ‘pick films that are honest and not detrimental to girls’ and stay ‘weird,’ while also ‘playing the game’ that is the Hollywood industrial complex. In this world, that’s revolutionary.” Others echoed that thought. “It’s unclear how much Woodley and Larson are actually changing Hollywood, outside of the fact that they are doing really great work in a bunch of films,” wrote Esther Zuckerman at the Wire. “But if they are, it’s because they aren’t outsiders. Their success is a triumph of persistence, a result of seeing how the industry can chew people up and spit people out. If their ideas seem fresh, it’s only because they are old pros.” Not everyone was charmed by the actresses’ outlook, and some were downright offended. “These young women are not doing or saying anything thoughtful or even slightly progressive,” wrote a commenter on nymag.com. “Rejecting feminism for humanism is a cowardly and irresponsible act.” Another noted, with patronizing sympathy, “When I look back on some of the things I said in my early 20s, thinking that they were profound and very, very adult, I cringe.”

2. Music critic Jody Rosen’s spirited advocacy for the greatness of hokey power ballads and their musical ilk sparked an equally spirited discussion about schlock music (In Defense of Schlock Music,” June 2–8). “This list is such a great mix of wonderful, terrible, and wonderfully terrible songs,” wrote one commenter on nymag.com. Some of these songs are effing classics and never can be anything other than that,” argued another. “I’m getting sick of critics giving me permission to love Billy Joel,” wrote another reader. “I can love him well enough on my own, thank you very much.” “As someone who’s unhappily in thrall to his own ‘good taste’, I got a lot out of this article as a corrective,” noted a commenter. “But does ‘schlock’ as a term really need rehabilitation? Don’t some of the adjectives used—‘rapturous’, ‘uplifting,’ ­‘stirring’—carry much of the gist about why this music is worthwhile, without any of the baggage?” “As a great aficionado of ’60s-era schlock, I enjoyed this article quite a bit and found the song selections to be spot-on, with one big exception,” wrote in reader Susan Epstein. “ ‘Both Sides Now’ by Joni Mitchell? My 16-year-old and 62-year-old self are quite miffed.” And then there were those readers who questioned the whole list. “The problem is not being able to tell genuine emotion from fake ulterior-motive emotion,” wrote one. “I’m not just talking this list. I love my irony but am not a fan of the notion that all emotion is off limits, sentimental, manipulative. ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’? ‘Without You’? ‘Our House’? See, they by themselves almost invalidate the whole project.”


3.Health issue arrived yesterday evening. I know what my train reading will be today!” tweeted @allergyPhD upon receiving her copy of our health-focused magazine, the first of the year’s three “special,” single-topic bonus issues. “ ‘The Everything Guide to Sleep’ is fantastic” … “Epic and excellent piece on FDA approval of Zohydro” … “Love this piece on extreme standing. (Not much better than extreme sitting!)” But others were more worried about the absence of their favorite magazine features: “Is anyone else missing the ‘Approval Matrix’ in this week’s @NYMag? Is this permanent?” tweeted a “distressed loyal reader.” Fear not, the “Matrix” returns in this issue.

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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