IT’S LIKE THAT: Farewell VMA’s

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moon man RIP.jpg

Feel free to dock me some indie-cred points, but let it be known that I’ve only missed one MTV Video Music Awards show since 1991 (ironically, I missed the 2006 VMA’s because I was busy working for MTV Networks at the time). My excitement for the VMA’s has waned over the years, but nevertheless I always make sure to tune in. I guess it’s the same reason I’ll occasionally eat a bologna sandwich. They’re not necessarily good, but they remind of me good times I had when I was younger.

I was never really interested in the made-for-TV VMA moments. Michael Jackson planting one on Elvis’ daughter? Big deal. Madonna and Britney kissing? Give Missy Elliot a chance to stick her tongue down Madonna’s throat and then we’ll talk.

The moments I cherished the most were the live performances. It was always thrilling when an up-and-coming talent got a chance to perform under the bright lights of the VMA’s. Even though by the time Nirvana played their first VMA’s they were already signed to a major label and sold a bunch of albums, they still gave the impression of being underdogs. You want a VMA memory? How about when Dave Grohl called out Axl Rose on stage–who at the time was the biggest rock star on the planet–that was a moment!

Throughout the years, the VMA’s have supplied me with many great memories. During my four years of college, I had to make sure to get to the Student Union long before anyone else, so I could squat out the cable TV (which was nonexistent in our dorm rooms) just to make sure I could watch the VMA’s. By the end of each telecast, you could always count on the Student Union being filled with a mixed selection of music and pop-culture nerds, each having something different and interesting to say about the show. In graduate school, I was able to lure a handful of friends away from their studies to witness the greatest host performance in VMA history–Chris Rock ripping everyone a new one in 1999.

Over the years, the quality of the VMA’s has diminished. Maybe the downfall began when MTV started taking its focus off of music? Hard to say though, because around the same time, it seemed like there was an awards show for just about everything. Maybe awards-show fatigue had something to do with it?

Whatever the case, I still made an effort to catch the VMA’s every year–even after two consecutive duds held in Miami, one of which featured the worst VMA performance I have ever seen–R. Kelly standing still on a stage full of props, lip-syncing–quite pathetically–to his multi-chapter hit, “Trapped In The Closet.”

After witnessing last night’s 25th rendition of the MTV Video Music Awards, I believe–sadly–my time has come. I couldn’t tell you what did it. Maybe, as they say, it was a slow burn? Maybe I’m just getting too old? Maybe my tastes have become too indie? Too elite?

You can’t eat bologna forever.

You’d think the 25th Anniversary of the Video Music Awards would be a big deal, but it wasn’t. Besides a quick mention of it by Britney Spears in her intro, you’d never know it was the VMA’s Silver Anniversary. For an awards show that once took place in beautiful venues (Radio City Music Hall, The Metropolitan Opera House), it seemed anticlimactic to hold it on a small sound stage outside of a Hollywood lot. I guess the argument could be made that some of the performances benefited from the various outside sets, but the main room looked tiny on TV and didn’t even seem like it would be worthy of holding a reunion show for The Hills, let alone the VMA’s.

Giving the hosting reigns to British comedian, Russell Brand, was a roll of the dice for MTV, a risky maneuver that I actually respected. However, Brand–who is not a household name here in the states–didn’t seem to connect well with the audience or the celebrity talent. At times he would remain on stage with the presenters, which just made for awkward (and not a good awkward) TV. He continually poked fun at the Jonas Brothers and when former American Idol winner Jordan Sparks poked back–“I just wanna say, it’s not bad to wear a promise ring because not every guy and a girl wants to be a slut, OK?”–did Brand summon the spirit of Chris Rock and rip her and the Jonas Brothers a new one? No, he conceded defeat–very fitting for the entire night.

Sadly, the artists I most wanted to see–The Ting Tings, Lupe Fiasco, LL Cool J, Katy Perry–gave brief, half-song performances before and after commercial breaks.

The only praise I can give MTV for their 25th installment of the VMA’s is that they have–seemingly–fully embraced their younger demographic. Miley Cyrus did a bit where she would rather play the video game Rock Band than announce a performance, Kid Rock passed the mic to Lil’ Wayne in the same way Run DMC passed the mic to Kid Rock almost a decade ago, the Jonas Brothers were given an extravagant set-piece to perform on, which sadly only reinforced their G-rated image, and Britney Spears played the role of over-the-hill pop star on the comeback trail by taking home three moonmen (keep in mind she’s only 26).

Farwell VMA’s, it’s been a good ride, but I believe this is my stop.


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.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.