Make that two Hunan chickens, a side order of eggplant in garlic, some spring rolls - and hold the political correctness. What Chinese takeaway has to do with ideology on the American campus may not seem immediately apparent to most of us, but then maybe we just don't get it. But when the Tufts University student governing body made some budgetary cutbacks to two Asian community clubs on the campus, it was not an issue that went unnoticed - either by Asian students or by George Will, one of the nation's most prominent syndicated columnists. To the students involved, the seemingly innocent cutback was a burning issue of racial prejudice, while to Will, a conservative firebrand, it represented the tip of the iceberg of the over-politicising of academic life in American colleges. Unlike other countries, where student clubs have to raise their own cash for their evenings of boozing and earnest discussion, Tufts students (and others in the US) are allocated quite impressive sums of money from central funds. The student senate at the college near Boston recently asked for a US$600 (HK$4,638) cut in the money allocated to the Asian Community at Tufts and to the Chinese Culture Club. And it apparently made some untoward comments about the fact that both groups had been spending too much of their money on ordering Chinese food for their meetings. Perhaps if the issue had been over an over-indulgence on Dominos Pizza or lamb rogan josh, all would have been well. But in a teary speech to students, Carol Wan, the CCC treasurer, accused the student senate of 'questioning the authenticity of takeout food as part of our culture'. She added: 'It's sad that this is happening at Tufts, where it is supposed to be inter-cultural.' In the end, Ms Wan and her inter-cultural associates got to keep their takeaway, since the budget-cutters accepted her argument and reinstated the cash. The issue, almost as surreal as it is mundane, is not untypical of the kind of racial and political tensions bubbling under the surface on American campuses. This is especially true in California, where the huge influx of extremely talented Asian students is partly responsible for the backlash against affirmative action programmes, which previously established racial quotas to fabricate an equal ethnic mix. And to George Will, it is another sign of the unravelling of academic life, which some believe is still stuck in a 1960s time-warp and where students are taught how to be impossibly PC by their lefty lecturers. In a column entitled 'Political narcissism on campus', he discussed the takeaway food row thus: 'Who teaches young people to be so exquisitely sensitive to perceived slights, so ready to read affronts into routine events in everyday life? Their teachers, no doubt.' Some are convinced it's the kryptonite. Some are more likely to point the finger at the excesses of the Hollywood lifestyle. But whatever the cause, people are talking about the Superman curse. The entertainment media here are speculating as to what it is which has made appearing in Superman movies into a kind of professional Bermuda triangle. The latest indication centres on Margot Kidder, the former star who played Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the hit series. Kidder, 47, was found dazed, frightened and cowering in a Los Angeles backyard by police, her clothes dishevelled and her mental state in serious disarray. She had been missing for several days, and when she turned up, she complained that she was being followed by an imaginary stalker. She is now undergoing 'psychiatric evaluation', as they say, but the incident was only the latest in a string of mishaps which have wrecked her career. After failing to capitalise on her success with Superman, she went through a series of bad marriages, blew much of her money on a failed film project, and was last seen by gleeful paparazzi hawking her jewellery in Manhattan stores in a bid to stave off bankruptcy. Other Superman stars have had similar misfortune, including Reeve, whose paralysis from a tragic riding accident has been well chronicled. Then there was George Reeves, who played the caped caricature on TV in the 1950s: he fell into depression after the show was cancelled and committed suicide shortly afterwards. And lest we forget, there was also Kirk Alyn - you know, Kirk Alyn - who said his career was ruined because he was typecast after playing the superhero in a 1940s film version. One wonders, however, whether the nation's unforgiving health care system might be more of a curse than some Hollywood myth. What really precipitated Kidder's slide into penury was a 1990 car accident, in which she suffered severe spinal damage and needed several operations to regain her health. After her insurer refused to pay up, the hospital bills sent her into bankruptcy. Maybe it's time for Hillary Clinton to slip on her Superwoman outfit and try once again to come to the rescue.