1 For New York’s latest cover story, Allison P. Davis wrote about what happened in the months after a white woman in the liberal enclave of Montclair, New Jersey, called the cops on her Black neighbors (“Living With Karens,” December 21, 2020–January 3, 2021). Jen Rice, a journalist in Houston, wrote that Davis “crafted a flawless portrait of the stress and anxiety of living among white supremacy at this precise moment in time.” Tati Chin wrote that the story represented “what we don’t talk about: the shame and embarrassment after these incidents. The constant explaining. Your life becoming a spectacle on top of the original offense.” And Julia McCarthy tweeted, “I’ve spent a lot of my life in Montclair, including working at their small local bookstore. For all its good, it has so much to reckon with.” The New York Times Magazine’s Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote, “I live in a similar suburb with a similar ‘kumbaya mentality’ and this speaks to/makes sense of a lot of what I’ve seen/heard over the last year there.” And the editor and writer Foster Kamer added, “In a year where literally nothing has unilaterally held my attention for more than fourteen minutes besides baseline anxiety, the highest compliment I could give anything, I can give to this story, which is that I can’t stop thinking about it.”
2 In “Who Did J. K. Rowling Become?,” Molly Fischer explored how the Harry Potter creator alienated so many of the people who grew up reading her books (December 21, 2020–January 3, 2021). Jeremy Childs tweeted, “Loved this … essay on J. K. Rowling’s shifting legacy, the tension between fandom & authorial intent, and what happens when an audience outgrows a storyteller.” Some readers felt that the article was insufficiently critical of Rowling and her anti-trans rhetoric. In a series of tweets, the writer Niko Stratis responded, “This works to try and humanize terfs more than it gives a clear and accurate picture of the current state of trans issues, especially in the UK, where things are so fraught right now … Print this thread in New York magazine you cowards.” BuzzFeed’s Alex Berg wrote, “It’s not just that J. K. Rowling is dabbling in transphobia or making herself a victim—she’s spreading dangerous rhetoric that translates to violence against trans people. I wish this story would’ve connected those dots. She legitimizes bigotry.” Still, Melissa Anelli, the Leaky Cauldron webmistress who was featured in the story, appreciated Fischer’s comprehensive approach, writing: “My experience of being talked to for this by [Fischer] was that of one of the most sensitive and careful I’ve ever experienced … And she clearly read literally every word on this subject because she’s reminding me of true things I had forgot (like the West Wing thing). And most importantly was careful to find reps of HP fandom who are not cis like myself.”
3 New York’s restaurant critic Adam Platt investigated why Guy Fieri is America’s most misunderstood chef (“121 Minutes With … Guy Fieri,” December 21, 2020–January 3, 2021). Ana Auger Whitaker wrote, “I’m glad others are reconsidering their view of Guy Fieri, a man who promotes thousands of small businesses on his national TV show, and has raised millions of dollars for restaurants during the pandemic.” And Caryl Chinn wrote, “Guy Fieri is the Dolly Parton of the food world. Easily judged for his hair or wardrobe, but secretly is one of the nicest, most generous and genuine people you will meet and has done far more to help his fellow citizen than any of those casting aspersions.”
4 Rachel Handler’s exhaustive “A Key to the Nancy Meyers Cinematic Universe” (December 21, 2020–January 3, 2021), which was diagrammed in the print magazine and ran at greater length on Vulture, faced unexpected backlash from Meyers’s daughter, the filmmaker Hallie Meyers-Shyer. In a lengthy Instagram post, Meyers-Shyer wrote, “The writer […] used the opportunity to reduce a woman’s entire body of work to themes that entirely miss the point … She categorized the films by how often the women discuss decorating, how often they cry, how often they mention their shrinks. This is sexist. This is inappropriate. This is wrong.” While Meyers-Shyer’s post received praise from Audrey Gelman, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Zac Posen, Tavi Gevinson pushed back, saying, “Aw man. I read that article and thought it was a total love letter. I don’t think it’s sexist or reductive to taxonomize tropes in someone’s movies … Idk why I care about this. I suppose I take charges of sexism seriously and I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.” Off Instagram, the post started gaining critical attention from others who thought it was Meyers-Shyer who missed the point. The controversy was covered in Vogue, Lainey Gossip, and “Page Six,” which trumpeted “Nancy Meyers’ daughter furious about loving tribute to her mother.” Playwright Jeremy O. Harris tweeted, “If upon 1st read this was offensive to anyone’s children I hope they read it again w new eyes bc if @rachel_handler took this much time and compassion to write abt my work I’d be honored.” And The New Yorker’s Doreen St. Félix joked, “has she seen any of her moms movies”?
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