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The “feminine sensibility.”

The “feminine sensibility.” (photo)

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Here’s what I’ve learned in the last 24 hours: women are associative, intuitive and non-intellectual. Women are bad directors because the medium requires the male gaze. Women don’t have conversations in movies. None of these statements have anything in common except that they’re ridiculous gender-based generalizations designed to spark hours and hours of frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy. And it needs to stop.

Let’s start with some basics here: it’s not precisely a secret that the film industry always has been and still is dominated by men. Nor is it news that sexism quietly remains prevalent. It’s hard not to sympathize with an idea like The Bechdel Test, which proposes to measure whether movies meet some kind of basic female parity by figuring out whether there are two or more women in a movie who have names and have a conversation about something other than a man. This isn’t new, but a friend sent me the link this morning.

This seems reasonable, until you look at the list of movies cited: is the biggest problem with, say, “Shrek” a lack of gender parity? (Or, uh, “WALL-E”?) I can think of quite a few movies from last year that would actually pass this test — “Beeswax,” “Halloween II,” “Up In The Air,” “Treeless Mountain,” “My Sister’s Keeper” — but I’m being deliberately obtuse and I know it. It just seems like attacking a wide variety of blockbusters that flatten all the complexities of human experience for being gender-imbalanced doesn’t make any sense.

05182010_scarjo.jpgBut hey, I get it! I certainly wouldn’t enjoy living in a world where the “male experience” (whatever that might be) was constantly marginalized and dismissed. There is a point here, even if it’s not one I’m on board with. Let’s move deeper down the generalization pool. From Cannes, Anne Thompson reports that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful” is “almost feminine in its associative, intuitive, non-intellectual construction.” Best not to dwell on this: cranking out copy in a high-pressure festival environment is one of the hardest things to do and can lead to all kinds of statements you wouldn’t normally make. I’ll just point out that if a man had said this (women are non-intellectual?), he’d quickly (and correctly) be pilloried for sexism.

Descending down the scale, we find the truly vile. There’s Bret Easton Ellis, who’s never been afraid to say stupid things with great vehemence. “I think [movies are] a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility,” he says, before going on not to clarify anything. “I mean, the best art is made under not an indifference to, but a neutrality [toward] the kind of emotionalism that I think can be a trap for women directors.” And way, way down there we find Big Hollywood‘s Leigh Scott, who somehow connects “Iron Man 2″‘s box office success to the Battle of Saratoga (!) before going on to prove that the film is feminist, not sexist.

This is a small sample of the kind of reasoned gender discourse the internet helpfully vomits up on an hourly basis (gender politics are second only to actual politics as a way to piss people off and drive up traffic numbers). But it’s all stupid. It will never stop, of course — but it’d be nice if it did. Correlating anything to gender is tenuous at best and increasingly repugnant at worst. Let’s leave this to the academics, shall we? There’s nothing to be gained by any of these statements, ever.

[Photos: “Shrek The Halls,” DreamWorks Animation, 2007; “Iron Man 2,” Paramount, 2010.]

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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