Chronicle culture writer Steven Winn uses the near-concurrence of John Rockwell?s column on the comeliness of New York City Ballet Dancers and the Oscars as a point of meditation on our conflicted attitudes towards beauty:

?New York Times dance critic John Rockwell kicked up a minor tempest recently when he wrote, of ballet dancers, that “looks do count: for dramatic verisimilitude, for romantic illusion, for box-office excitement.” That such self-evident assertions would register as controversial says something about where we are these days in our unsettled view of beauty.

The dissonance in the culture runs deep. We tend to look at exquisite dancers, fashion models, gorgeous movie stars, even particularly lovely people in daily life as a slightly different species, part idols and part freaks who occupy an alternative plane. Being beautiful, we conclude, is some sort of uncrackable code. That conclusion allows us to diffuse envy and resentment into the more manageable components of rationalizing and discounting gorgeousness. We see beauty as a trick in some ways, a genetic ruse paired with the money, privilege and private trainers to cultivate it.?

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