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Comments: Week of January 31, 2022

1.

“The Undoing of Joss Whedon,” January 17–30

Photo: New York Magazine

In New York’s latest cover story, Lila Shapiro examined the career of Joss Whedon, the Hollywood force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers, whom collaborators have accused of misconduct and misogyny. Television critic Emily St. James called the feature “a tremendous piece of cultural journalism that allows a man to damn himself” and praised its writing as “worth reading on a pure craft level.” Reader Mel Shamie said, “This is so, so well done: A clearly well-researched piece that paints Joss Whedon neither as superhero nor villain, just human.” The Guardian’s videogames editor, Keza MacDonald, wrote that the article was “morbidly fascinating — a portrait of a particular kind of manipulative male-feminist nerd known well to all women who have ever engaged with geek culture.” Some readers questioned the magazine’s decision to put Whedon on the cover. @dancescatharsis wrote, “Even if your goal was to profile his wrong-doings, by making him a cover feature and giving him a platform to speak, you’re giving him more power than his victims. Why does he deserve this?” The Buffy Boys podcast responded, “I’ve seen a few tweets suggesting it’s ill-advised to platform him in this way, I would probably read it more as an investigative piece than a profile (his words are only one source here), but definitely read and make your own mind up!” And James Davis Nicoll wrote that the article hardly rehabilitated Whedon: “This is a master class — of sorts — in reputation salvaging. In the sense the Titanic provides valuable advice on Transatlantic crossings.”

2.

“13,000 Pounds at 118 Miles per Hour,” January 17–30

Photo: New York Magazine

Ben Ryder Howe investigated the connections between a notorious FBI informant and one of the nation’s deadliest transportation disasters. ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis tweeted, “This article is so shocking and enraging that I had to stop a few times while reading it.” The City’s executive director, Nicholas Dawes, called it “an extraordinary story of injustice and endless grift.” “This is horrifying,” Washington Post columnist Helaine Olen added. “The impunity of the powerful and connected goes so deep in the United States.” And Casey Seiler, the editor of the Albany Times Union, tweeted, “Highly recommend Ben Ryder Howe’s … deep dive on the Schoharie limo crash — for the widescreen attention paid to the perpetrators and the victims’ families, as well as its depiction of the dogged, dedicated work of [Larry Rulison],” a reporter who has pushed the story forward for years. After the article was published, Paul Tonko, a Democratic congressman who represents the families of the crash victims, told the Times Union he would request FBI records pertaining to its informant.

3.

“Hanya’s Boys,” January 17–30

Upon the release of Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, Andrea Long Chu asked why the author seems to torture her gay male characters only so she can swoop in to save them. Progressive organizer Ryder Kessler told his followers, “Add this @andrealongchu essay to the pantheon of essential Yanagihara criticism … Gay lives are so much more than trauma — and great literature is so much more than generating pathos through punishment.” The Conversation’s Patrick Lenton agreed, saying, “God this is a stunning essay, and manages to finally verbalise some of the feelings I’ve had about A Little Life’s sadism towards gay men.” Others were wary of Chu’s approach. Isaac Park asked, “Is this supposed to be a book review? B/c it basically manages to say nothing about whether the book itself is good. Is the point that when bad things happen in a book, you should be super mad at the author and try to figure out their problem?” Reader Josiah Solis added, “Seems weird to me to write a book review that’s basically just a personal vendetta against an author you just clearly don’t like.” Commenter cbto, however, wrote, “I adored A Little Life, and I remain excited to read To Paradise. Nonetheless, this was a pleasure to read (when the knives came out, they were sharp!) and reminded me that we all approach art from our unique perspectives and hearing from someone who sees things differently can actually reinforce our own experience of that art.” And Vice’s Anna Merlan said, “If I heard Andrea Long Chu was reviewing anything of mine I would simply go to ground, build a literal burrow, in the earth.”

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Comments: Week of January 31, 2022