- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2000

'Revolutionary' show

"All around the Crayola-bright disco, hair and makeup personnel spritz buff male torsos with fake sweat. The make-believe scene is a same-sex dance mecca called Babylon. So many men, so little time to dust them with glitter… .

" 'Queer as Folk,' a new Showtime series debuting in December … [is] the Americanization of a taboo-busting British series about a group of gay 20-somethings… .

" 'A lot of gay characters have been presented as either clowns or eunuchs,' says co-producer Dan Lipman, who with his personal and professional partner of 25 years, Ron Cowen, helped produce the 1985 AIDS drama 'An Early Frost' for NBC and created the prime-time soaper 'Sisters.'

" 'Our main character, Brian, is a guy who [has sex with] anything that moves. He does not pay a price for it. He does not get AIDS, and he has no conscience about it. I think that's absolutely revolutionary.' "

Steve Daly, writing on "The Gayest Show on Earth," in the Oct. 6 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Model, fantasy or joke?

"Have you noticed the resurgence of the cheerleader in popular culture? They're prominently featured in movies from 'American Beauty' to 'Bring It On' to 'But I'm a Cheerleader'; even media profiles of George W. Bush highlight that he was head cheerleader when he was at Andover.

"We asked a panel of scholars to explain why the pompoms and the old sis-boom-bah are back …

"Robert Thompson, professor of TV, radio and film at Syracuse University: 'Back in the golden age of the cheerleader … cheerleading was this sanctioned opportunity to dress in these extraordinarily provocative ways those short little skirts with the little pants underneath that were always showing. There was a certain soft-porn quality to a lot of this stuff… .

"You can now dress so much more provocatively that a cheerleader outfit is left looking like a quaint little Girl Scout uniform …'

"Michael Porte, professor of communication, University of Cincinnati: 'I think it's a carryover from an earlier time, when girls like Dorothy were setting out on a journey from childhood to womanhood, so that the cheerleader is not yet a woman, but she's on her way there. So she represents a kind of innocence and youthful vitality… .

"This appeals to the man who might feel threatened today by women who are earning larger salaries than they're earning, and going further than they're going. That's the new system, and the cheerleader harks back to the old system.' "

From "Deconstruct this Cheerleader Chic" in the Oct. 6 Chronicle of Higher Education

Smorgasbord Jews

"As a child from a divorced family, I grew up at the tables of my aunts and uncles, in kosher hotels with one parent or the other, and in the synagogue, which often served as a home away from home… .

"In all my years of observing Jews, I've found one common thread: Jews are not consistent. Jews pick and choose from among the wide panoply of religious practices …

"American Roman Catholics, in fact, have a name for it: Cafeteria Catholicism. The image is of Catholics walking down the line with their cafeteria tray, taking what suits them.

"Some will agree with the church on birth control, but not on abortion. Some will want to see women as priests, but not gays. Many revere the office of the pope but vehemently disagree with the man in office.

"Instead of Cafeteria Catholics, we are Smorgasbord Jews. No orderly cafeteria line for us. I use the term 'smorgasbord' because the Jewish choices are so much greater. Traditional Judaism makes demands that Christianity, from its very start, dismissed: circumcise, eat only kosher meats, pray three times a day, don't mix milk and meat, don't work on the Sabbath, and on and on.

"American Jews come to the great table of Jewish observance and take what best suits them. No two buffet plates are the same."

Ari Goldman in his new book, "Being Jewish"

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