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Women and men.

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"...its leering depiction of a leather-clad fembot..."Kevin Maher at the London Times kicks off an article on the "genre of Hollywood movies that speak of post-feminist kick-ass action
heroines while offering an overtly sexualised view of women that’s
utterly rooted in the darkest chambers of male desire" with a dig at Joss Whedon‘s "Serenity," which we feel is a particularly poor choice of titles to beat up on, particularly as it seems Maher has yet to see the film.

Yes, Whedon was a Women’s Studies major at college. Yes, the entire arts staff of Salon was on suicide watch for, like, months after "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was canceled. No, we’re not quite sold yet on holding him up as the new champion for female empowerment in disposable entertainment. But "Serenity" (which is great, great, great, by the way), "Firefly" and "Buffy" did manage to present what were certainly the most interesting and developed female characters in a decidedly non-female-skewing genre. Whedon’s managed to make comic book movies/series that appeal at least as well to women as to men — how rare is that?

Anyway, among many things, we’re particularly up in arms about this:

In other words, although these allegedly strong chicks, according to Whedon, may look "attractive" and "cool," when is the last time that Vin Diesel had to wear a pair of mercilessly photographed and cruelly revealing tight black PVC Speedos before he could snap the neck of an enemy agent? Ditto for The Rock and Jet Li? And why can’t the action heroine kick ass in a baggy jumper or pair of dungarees?

We’ll not kick poor Vin when he’s down, career-wise, but we don’t see how he, ever wife-beatered-out and improbably bulging with muscle, was any less fetishized at his peak than your average recent action movie heroine. And while we’d be hard put to disagree that, of late, "strong female action hero" pretty much equals pseudo-dominatrix, why is being dungaree-clad more empowering? We don’t want some damn heroine who looks like crap. We have to get up and dress for work like everyone else, why shouldn’t she? We want her to look cool, and to have a bitchin’ outfit (and who cares how impractical it is? We’re talking about escapism here, right?).  Hollywood hasn’t figured out what women want, action movie heroine-wise yet. But we’d say they’re getting closer. Sloooowly.

Meanwhile, on the track of a few iconic men’s roles, Nicole Lampert at This is London swears up and down that Daniel Craig is the new James Bond (traditionally clad in a less than action-ready tux, but no one’s get an issue with that, apparently), which we’ll believe when we see his face plastered on a poster at the multiplex and no sooner. Stephen Hunter at the Washington Post waxes melancholic and Freudian over John Wayne in "Hondo," recently restored and re-released on DVD.

Hondo was John Wayne, mythic even then, and for many of us the image he portrayed in "Hondo" that year was an image no man could live up to. He was tall and strong, encased in buckskin, his wise eyes hooded by the broad brim of his hat, looking to and possibly beyond the horizon. He was fair and calm. He was tough but not mean. He had temper but not rage, only decency under the muscle. He had a poetic streak and an emotional one; he knew what love was, just as he knew the drop of a .38- 40 from a Winchester carbine at 100 yards and how to knife-fight and fish and swim. He could ride or shoot or fight as well as any man alive, but he didn’t seem to brag on it. He killed Indians but he loved Indians; he killed white men but they were low-down skunks. He protected. He made things safe and let you grow. Otherwise he believed in letting alone, doing his duty and setting an example. He didn’t order you to be like him, he made you want to be like him.

In an older piece at the Guardian, John Patterson wonders what Wayne would have made of the remakes of his old Westerns, particularly "Four Brothers."

And while the Independent‘s Paul Vallely looks over the cinematic history of a just as iconic, if far less flattering, father figure, "Oliver Twist"’s Fagin, Sean Macaulay at the London Times interviews Ben Kingsley, the latest to don the raggedy robes and attempt to humanize a tragic Jewish stereotype.

+ A hard woman is good to find (London Times)
+ It’s James Blond (This is London)
+ Who’s Our Daddy? For A Generation, It’s ‘Hondo’ (Washington Post)
+ Wayne’s lost world (Guardian)
+ Dickens’ greatest villain: The faces of Fagin (Independent)
+ Ben Kingsley (London Times)



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.