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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Gay-baiting Cruise for cheap laughs?

From: Alan Wootson

You had an interesting piece on the "South Park"-Tom Cruise controversy but I think you missed an important aspect of the 'controversal' episode, and "South Park" in general. I've seen the episode in question, and as the title suggests, a big part of the story involves different characters repeating over and over that Tom Cruise needs to "come out of the closet.' The Cruise character on the show literally locks himself in a closet but this is clearly just an opportunity for the "South Park" creators to gay-bash (or gay-bait) Cruise, and yet again attempt to get cheap laughs with homophobic humor.

Perhaps it was being labelled as gay in this manor that Cruise objected to even more than any attacks on Scientology.

Was he right if he did indeed put pressure on Paramount to pull the episode? I wouldn't say that, but think it's understandable. Why should he cooperate with a corporation that's insulting him, anymore than he has to?

For the record I'm not a Scientologist, I'm not gay and I'm not really much of a Cruise fan (though I thought he was good in "Rain Man" and "War of the Worlds"). Whenever Cruise/Homles celeb hype comes on TV I change the channel and I'm going to skip "Mission Impossible: 3" the way I skipped the first two.

I watched "South Park" when it first came on for a season or two, before it occured to me that the creators really play the 'both sides againt the middle' game in their satire. It makes sense for ratings. You can make some statements against racism or intollerance based on religion or sexual orientation, but also work in the gay jokes and Jewish jokes and sexist jokes to hold onto the 'red state' portion of your audience.

In the end, of course all that really means is that while you appear to be speaking out on important issues, you really aren't saying and don't stand for anything.

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