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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.]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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.