DID YOU READ

Have the movies gotten more conservative?

Have the movies gotten more conservative? (photo)

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As they’ve done for years, the Christian Film & Television Commission — the brainchild of Dr. Ted Baehr, whose Movieguide reviews movies separately for quality and “acceptability” from a “Biblical perspective” — has issued a report claiming to correlate box office success with “conservative, morally uplifting, patriotic movies and movies with strong Pro-American, pro-capitalist, and anti-socialist content.”

That Baehr’s organization still uses language like “anti-socialist content” — as if it were the ’50s and we were about to revive the likes of “I Married A Communist” — is charmingly ridiculous. As is some of its data: the release points out that “Avatar,” “Creation” and “Land of the Lost” had an average gross far lower than that of “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” “The Blind Side,” “A Christmas Carol” and something called “The Cross” — technically true, but meaningless. (“>The trailer for “The Cross” is worth watching — it’s like an incoherent religious take on “We Didn’t Start The Fire.”)

But could there actually be something to the organization’s claims that mainstream success correlates with family-friendly fare with unexceptional (if any) political views? The answer is probably yes, with some major caveats. Even as the final barriers on what can be shown have disintegrated, the inclination to go there — to indulge in hyper-violence, graphic sex, or such — is rarely exercised in the mainstream.

You could consider this a reaction to the breakthroughs of the ’70s, along the lines of how Jessica Grose speculates in Slate that the Millennials look down on casual sex and promiscuity because they’re a “corrective generation” who saw an unpleasant straight line from ’60s sexual lib to the national embarrassment that was the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.

04202010_jazz.jpgYou could also argue that movies are timid about playing with any kind of fire because it’s easier to hit multiple demographics when you smooth out anything that could alienate anyone. It’d be even simpler to note that many of the groundbreaking movies commonly cited as Hollywood’s ’70s peaks didn’t make much money — hence, there’s no compelling reason to make more of them. But that still wouldn’t explain the conspicuous sexlessness of so many American indie films that don’t have to worry about MPAA ratings, or why so many overtly liberal films are didactic and terrible.

The good Dr. Baehr has, in his own odd way, a point. Despite blockbuster anomalies indicating a desire for more violence (“300”), raunch (“The Hangover”) or generally non-pious behavior that wouldn’t survive on basic cable uncut, American filmmaking as a whole has increasingly shied away from sex and drugs in the last 30 years. There are films from the ’70s that have things on screen that feel more pungent than anything we have now. The ’70s had “All That Jazz”; we had to settle for “Nine.”

[Photos: “I Married A Communist,” RKO Radio Pictures, 1949; “All That Jazz,” 20th Century Fox, 1979]

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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…

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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. 

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

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

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

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

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