DID YOU READ

Seagal’s “On Deadly Ground” an unexpectedly hot topic after last week’s UK shooting.

Seagal’s “On Deadly Ground” an unexpectedly hot topic after last week’s UK shooting. (photo)

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In the early hours of last Wednesday afternoon, an English taxi driver named Derrick Bird watched the Steven Seagal film “On Deadly Ground” at a friend’s house, left and embarked on the worst mass shooting in Britain since 1996.

“On Deadly Ground” is the infamous Steven Seagal cult classic about environmentalism; it is not a film that anyone has ever taken seriously in their entire life. For the purposes of the media, though, it’s been cleaned up into “an action film involving multiple killings.” You could almost hear the staff of the Guardian — if not exactly pleased about the tragedy — at least mulling over how much copy they could get out of the link: “The debate over the effect of violent films looks set to be revived,” they wrote. “The film […] involved multiple scenes of graphic violence involving a range of firearms.” Sure. Why do we have to argue about this again, exactly?

The last time the connection between violent films/music/games and real life violence was given intense media focus was during the wave of school shootings that scared the hell out of everyone in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Lawsuits were filed against the producers of “The Basketball Diaries” and people fretted about “Doom” and Marilyn Manson and so on.

06082010_beavis1.jpgBefore that, much of the ’90s were spent worrying about whether or not “Beavis & Butthead” would destroy society after a boy set fire to a mobile home. Before that, John Hinckley got a little too obsessed with Jodie Foster and set off on his date of destiny with Ronald Reagan.

The temptation to link violent pop culture — i.e., Culture You Don’t Like — to the worst society has to offer has always been tempting. But, like Chuck Klosterman wrote about the two young men who shot themselves after listening to Judas Priest, “Even as an adolescent, I understood that the kind of kid who thought Bruce Dickinson was telling him to worship Satan was the same kind of kid who would have been corrupted by the hum of a refrigerator.” It’s hard to responsibly draw a link between a movie that’s been watched by millions and the one guy who does something right afterward.

But it persists, and reporters continue to pick up on the apparently salient detail — are they trained to ask everyone what the last movie the perpetrator watched was? What’s this urge to draw a direct connection between a movie and its most violent adherent (especially when that movie is, c’mon, one of the more widely mocked of the ’90s)?

06082010_thematrix.jpgA decade after “The Matrix” was being tied to Columbine (shootings in black trenchcoats!), it shows with monotonous regularity on basic cable; no one’s died from it since. Nor has the culture at large gotten significantly less violent, nor have all the common-sense arguments made any headway; there has yet to be a single definable case of a movie pushing a sane person over the edge completely.

It’s natural to look for causes, explanations for these terrible acts. And it’s easy to pin them on whatever was last in someone’s DVD player. But it’s a debate that’s driven by fear, not reason. And it looks like we’re about to have it again.

[Photos: “On Deadly Ground,” Warner Bros., 1994; “Beavis and Butt-head,” MTV, 1993; “The Matrix,” Warner Bros., 1999]

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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