Comments: Week of October 14, 2019

1 For New York’s latest cover story (“Was It Worth It?,” September 30–October 13), 22 women and men talked about what happened after they came forward with accounts of sexual harassment and assault. Bruce Karp wrote, “This article made me wonder how we’ve gotten to the point where people who do wrong manage to suffer no consequences, while those who try to do the right thing end up being the ones who suffer consequences.” Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her, wrote, “Everywhere I go, women talk about this, and the double bind of coming forward.” The filmmaker and first partner of California, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, added, “It’s time we start paying more attention to the women who said #MeToo than the men whose lives are ‘ruined’ by the consequences of their own actions.” One anonymous account in the story leveled a new accusation of misconduct against former senator Al Franken. “Ninth Franken accuser, says he groped her on the ass. But sure, Gillibrand is the bad guy for saying this behavior is wrong,” Salon’s Amanda Marcotte wrote. “Sad that Franken’s accusers in Democratic politics have to stay anonymous, lest they be run out of their careers. But they are right to be afraid. It’s clear that powerful people in Democratic politics have decided women should tolerate harassment from Democratic men.” Other women responded by sharing their own stories about coming forward. Kathleen Treseder, a University of California, Irvine, professor who had accused a colleague of harassment, wrote on Twitter, “I paid so dearly for speaking out. So did my children, my husband, my mom, and many more. I would still do it again, because I couldn’t have lived with myself otherwise. I wish women didn’t have to make this choice.”

2 Ava Kofman and Daniel Golden unfurled how hedge-fund billionaire David E. Shaw donated tens of millions to multiple elite universities, a strategy that would give his children a leg up in admissions (“The Shaw Family Admission Plan,” September 30–October 13). The story, a collaboration with ProPublica, included details of the idiosyncratic, risk-averse ways Shaw ran his business and family life. Writer Nicole Cliffe, who once worked at Shaw’s fund, wrote, “This is 90 percent of what you need to know about the guy who ran our old hedge fund … Regardless of how I feel about David’s hedging college donations, his children are all extremely sweet and polite and interested in others and brilliant, so they probably would have fallen on their feet even without his wild-ass obsession with it.” Commenter JeffWise wrote, “This is an amazing look into the world of the ultrarich who now exert way too much control over society, to the detriment of all. Human beings can be extremely clever in some ways (e.g., at accumulating wealth) while utterly daft in others (being afraid of fluoride).” On Twitter, @roach_spencer wrote, “It’s worth noting that $40 million is basically nothing for this guy. He can use his billions of wealth to make hundreds of millions per year. To put this in perspective, $40 million for somebody worth $7.3 billion is around $548 for somebody worth $100,000.” Gady Epstein, an editor at The Economist, replied, “What a terrific tale. Come for the buying college admissions, stay for the insane private family staff stories (and the making Larry Summers do brainteasers).” More than a few readers saw the story as a morality tale, with Outline editor Noah Kulwin tweeting, “Private education is a disease,” and @MitchSchindler tweeting, “This article definitely serves as an argument for a wealth tax.” The writer Hamilton Nolan joked, “You see, we can’t have a wealth tax because billionaires need that money to donate millions to every single fancy college their kids might conceivably want to go to so one day they can get a job writing for Jimmy Fallon.”

3 In “Bong Joon-ho vs. Late-Stage Capitalism” (September 30–October 13), E. Alex Jung profiled the Korean director whose latest film, Parasite, is garnering early Oscars buzz (read David Edelstein’s review here). On Twitter, screenwriter Aaron Stewart-Ahn wrote that the profile “goes a long way explaining why his films are fraught with late-stage capitalism, memories of tear gas, & lots of kekeke laughs.” And @xytmusic responded, “Bong Joon-ho is a genius. Don’t sleep on his stuff because it’s foreign or looks almost campy visually — it’s all cutting and brilliant.” Young-a Park, a University of Hawaii professor who specializes in South Korean cinema, wrote that Bong’s films “blur the boundaries that separate mainstream entertainment films and socially engaged cinema. In fact, the more specific and more locally engaged his films are, the more precise and powerful his storytelling has been, drawing bigger audiences as seen in the cases of The Host and Parasite in the Korean box office. The global success of Parasite is a testament to how these locally deep stories indeed have broader global resonance.”

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*This article appears in the October 14, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of October 14, 2019