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News - Should university theater departments ban nudity from student productions?

No. If students find nudity offensive or inappropriate, they can either boycott the performance or close their eyes

Although I was just a kid, I had little need for the "one, two, three, four — we won't fight your dirty war" nonsense permeating the nation's college campuses in the late '60s and early '70s. I guess I came to the realization that pot-smoking, Dylan-worshipping college students who wrapped themselves in the security blanket known as an "educational deferment" weren't going to fight anyway.

I mention this because I'm puzzled by the 500 or so Kennesaw State University students "protesting" against the recent student production of a theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Their beef with the show: a few seconds of frontal nudity.

It's not that I have a problem with politically/ socially conscious college students. In fact, while I'm amused by their quest to "make a difference" (just as I wanted to as an undergrad), I view student activism as a necessary component in American cultural history. But with our nation embroiled in a potentially endless war on terrorism, and with myriad other potentially cataclysmic scenarios on the horizon (the Middle East, bio-terrorism, Cynthia McKinney, etc.), I wonder if these kids may have picked the wrong issue to march against. I'm no artsy-fartsy liberal — but I am of the opinion that college students should celebrate the arts, not censor them.

One of the more vocal "anti-nekkid" spokesmen claims, "The area we live in is definitely less open to this than, say, New York," adding, "I don't think it's going to be received by the community as artistic."

I'll concede that Cobb County might lean a little to the right, but it's no Faber College a la Animal House. More importantly, better than 95 percent of the 14,000 KSU students — in addition to the administration — don't have a problem with the nudity in the play.

So what's the problem?

If students find nudity offensive or inappropriate, they can either boycott the performance or close their eyes when "big Jim and the twins" appear on stage. And to be quite honest, I don't see neo- conservative young Republican types lining up to see any performance inspired by the likes of Steinbeck anyhow.

Truth be told, while I enjoy much of Steinbeck's work, I never really cared for The Grapes of Wrath. It was kind of whiney and directionless. And while I'm not sure nudity is an essential element to story, playwright Frank Galati felt otherwise.

But nudity is a form of expression protected by the Constitution. And besides, a handful of prudish students shouldn't be allowed to dictate the parameters of artistic expression to their more open-minded classmates. What are they majoring in: repression?

Chris Renaldo supports an individual's right to bare arms — and other body parts.??





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