Tuesday, February 4, 2020

You Will Never Be Forgotten

The protagonist of Mary South’s “You Will Never Be Forgotten” (The New Yorker, 1/27/20), a rape victim, is “a content moderator at the world’s most popular search engine.” "Madison" is an example of the kind of "content" she manages. It's the word given for the video of unnamed woman, "passed out at a party as football players finger her." The rapist himself works for “the most prestigious seed fund in Silicon Valley.” Though the predator and his prey go unidentified the story has characters with names like Shady Dave and yes an avatar, Cunty (a specialist in "online reputation management for convicted sex offenders")--personalities out of a contemporaneous and politically incorrect form of Restoration Comedy. Cunty remarks "I never want to be in a situation where I'm looking at my daughter's vagina online and thinking, Her vagina isn't as hot as a hacked celebrity-vagina candid." “You Will Never Be Forgotten” recalls “Cat Person," another New Yorker short story which became both a sensation and source of controversy earning the author over a million dollar advance. “You Will Never Be Forgotten” is a brilliant and wildly ambitious publishing concept which also has an invidious side to it—in being so manipulatively directed to the most tendentious aspects of the #MeToo” culture. The human condition for women, at least, is rape and the inventive style of the story is a mixture of provocation and agit-prop, techniques that are almost guaranteed to produce the stick figures of a medieval morality play. The author’s name is itself iconic. Mary South sounds a little a pseudonymous invention, say Mark Twain. “You Will Never Be Forgotten” also alludes to the fact that as another colleague at the search engine, BabyJesusUpchuck, remarks, "the Internet is forever." South's story is reeking with virtuosity and may very well live up to its name, but it’s fundamentally a broadside and rant, with the butt of the humor and rage aimed at a defenseless child, the institution of human sexuality crashing upon the shoals of both technologically mediated  pornography and consciousness.

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