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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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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