- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Post-reality TV

“In the often disturbing and gruesome FX hit ‘Nip/Tuck,’ an over-the-top drama about a booming Miami plastic-surgery practice, actors who may or may not have gotten work done in real life play characters who may or may not be getting work done. The dialogue about the characters’ bodies — which are, of course, also the actors’ real bodies — is merciless: A model who wants to be a ‘10’ is told she’s merely an ‘8.’ …

“There’s something so perversely post-reality-TV about a drama in which the cast members constantly speak lines that deconstruct the failings of their own bodies. …

“It’s fiction that’s way too factual. …

“It is, in a word, brutal. Especially since ‘Nip/Tuck’ incorporates surgical footage in which real-life stand-ins (for the show’s ‘patients’) go under the knife. …

“And then, by marrying this bloody spectacle to often cheesy morality tales … ‘Nip/Tuck’ offers a frisson of depth. Depth about shallowness (ta da!).”

Simon Dumenco, writing on “Their Bodies, Ourselves,” in the Oct. 6 issue of New York

Magazine mystery

“Magazines targeted at men show scantily-clad women on the cover. Magazines targeted at women also show scantily-clad women on the cover.

“My mother-in-law subscribes to a woman’s health magazine, which, compared to other magazines in the genre, is quite modest. But a recent cover showed a woman exercising in a tight sweatshirt and what appeared to be yellow underwear.

“The first thought that entered my head was: Would any woman I know go jogging down the street in glowing yellow panties?

“My second thought was: Would I ever be inclined to purchase a magazine that showed a man wearing a little piece of spandex on the cover? Not unless it’s a comic book and the man happens to be a super hero — but even then, he’d be wearing a decent pair of red tights underneath.”

Sam Torode, writing on “What I Don’t Understand About Women and Clothes,” Thursday in Boundless at www.boundless.org

Penguin politics

“When [Berkeley] Breathed retired ‘Bloom County’ and began the Sunday-only strip ‘Outland,’ a subtle change in his politics emerged. Gone was the reflexive leftism of ‘Bloom County,’ and in its place grew a general skepticism for power and political patronage. …

“But Breathed saved most of his invective for political correctness. In one strip, Opus and his brethren protest the movie ‘Batman’ for its unflattering portrayal of penguins. ‘Redford, Not Devito!’ reads one sign. ‘Pro Penguin Life,’ reads another.

“In another storyline, our flightless fowl friend is jailed for sexually harassing Milquetoast. At his parole hearing, the feminist-looking officer tells him, ‘I think you’re in good shape.’

“‘Thanks!’ he says, admiring her figure, ‘So’s yours!’ The next panel shows him chained to a wall in solitary confinement …

“What’s clear is that over the course of his cartooning career, Breathed’s politics drifted from conventional liberalism toward a pronounced respect for individual rights, individual responsibility, and distrust for power — be it state, corporate, or otherwise.”

Radley Balko, writing on “A Great Returns: Bloom County’s Opus makes a comeback,” Sept. 25 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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