Comments: Week of August 18, 2008

1. Readers were divided about what to make of Jonathan Van Meter’s cover story on “the new new face” (About-Face,” August 11). Were we endorsing the new volumized mug or satirizing it? (“Madonna has the perfect face, according to America,” wrote Marie Claire UK, in a misreading of the story that was mitigated by their flattering portrayal of us as the spokesmagazine for all of America.) Regardless, most readers seemed to enjoy the story and hate the face. “Aggggghhhhh this looks awful creepy! Zombies,” wrote one commenter. “Are we really getting to a place where we avoid carbs, suck out the effects of any that slipped by, and then inject the remains into our face?” wrote another. “Then again, perhaps we’re just modernizing what it means to age gracefully.” The online Magazine MILF had a less reflective takeaway: “How bad would it suck to have last year’s face? Too-plump lips are only a little less fixable than last year’s handbag!” Many commenters simply obsessed over the composite photo inside, in which we combined several salient parts of famous faces to make one new new one. “So basically,” said one, “we should look like a slightly older version of Scarlett Johansson?”

2. Many readers expressed gratitude for Moustafa Bayoumi’s American Girl (August 11), while being depressed by what it said about our legal system. The story profiled Rasha, whose family was inexplicably held in detention for months after September 11. “Welcome to 1930s Germany, folks. Or rather, it’s 1692, we’re back in Salem, and we need to burn some Muslim witches,” wrote one glum reader. “Articles like this make it really easy for me to lose all faith in this country. Keep them coming,” wrote another. A neighbor of Rasha’s wrote in to say, “What a pleasant surprise to see Rasha’s story published! I am a fellow Bay Ridge Syrian and was shocked when I heard what happened to Rasha and her family. It can drive any sane person mad hearing stories such as this. The U.S. needs to correct its wrongs and lead by example. It’s our duty if we want to be considered the greatest country in the world.”

3. Last week’s Artifact page featured fifteen young actors auditioning to play Peter Parker in the upcoming Broadway version of Spiderman. It wasn’t meant to be a poll, but strangely enough, the comments (over 50 of them) came back unanimously in favor of Josh Bednarsky, a blond from Manhattan who told us that “for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option.” Clearly not! After all, as one of his fans put it, he “makes yr heart throb & yr loins tingle.” But Josh insisted that he had nothing, or at least not very much, to do with the outpouring. “I am just flabbergasted. It’s kind of ridiculous. I promise I didn’t twist anyone’s arm for this and am paying no one off. I guess I just never assumed I had such support from folks .” They like him! They really do. “To be completely honest, I wasn’t happy with how I did. I was so upset that I contemplated waiting in line a second time. And now this?! It just gives me juice, ya know, to keep on going.

Photo: Courtesy of Alanna Nevitski

4. When our Website published the above picture under the headline Investigating the Montauk Monster: The Story Deepens (July 30), more than 250 people wrote in to offer their own theories about what had apparently washed up on the Montauk shore. A sampling: “a sea turtle without its shell”; “Zuul’s dog from Ghostbusters”; “a flightless griffin … Not sure what it’s doing outside of my mind though!”; and “the first Thanksgiving turkey that I prepared for my family.”

In “About Face” (August 11), the photograph said to be of Clara Bow should have been identified as Louise Brooks.

Comments: Week of August 18, 2008