Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Imagine that. They're just like anybody else --

except with torn fishnet stockings and lethal elbows.

Forget about a good nickel cigar. What this country needs is more wholesome family entertainment like Roller Derby.

I attended my first Roller Derby event last week and loved it. Loved the action. Loved the girls (yeah, they call themselves "girls"). Loved the crowd. Loved the fact that Roller Derby manages to be simultaneously a serious competition and a huge goof.

But what I loved most is that it was a valuable reminder to not clutch too tightly to your stereotypes.

You may remember Roller Derby from another era. Back then, it was stagey and theatrical, sort of like professional wrestling. Some skill and athleticism were on display, but that was subsumed by the choreographed violence and made-up feuds. Let me be blunt about its appeal: It was chicks fighting.

That was then. This is now. In the new version of Roller Derby, there's no fighting, no choreography and no preordained victor. There's plenty of violence, but it's of the type you see in football rather than in a bar brawl. Better yet, there's no flavor of exploitation to it. The local two-team league, Carolina Rollergirls, is run by the skaters, for the skaters.

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