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Disc Covering: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” With Two Very Interesting People

Disc Covering: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” With Two Very Interesting People (photo)

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Human beings are bundles of contradictions. This week’s direct-to-DVD column is about a film that explores one contradiction fundamental to human life: our need to belong and fit in within a peer group on the one hand, and the need to feel like we’re special and stand out from the people around us on the other. It’s a documentary about two fans of the ’80s pop star Tiffany, though fans is too soft a word (and stalker may be too hard a word, since they don’t want to hurt Tiffany, just feel like she cares about them as deeply as they care about her).

Both of these people — a middle-aged man with Asperger Syndrome and an intersex woman in her thirties — are outsiders who have difficulty fitting into society. Becoming fans of Tiffany in the 1980s, when she was the epitome of the mainstream, was an attempt to be included in that society. Maintaining that fandom well into the 2000s and keeping up that fandom to the point that you know everything about her speaks to a need to feel unique: to be the best and biggest Tiffany fan in the world. So what happens when two “best and biggest” Tiffany fans meet? Tension, my friends. Sweet, fascinating tension.

I Think We’re Alone Now
Directed by Sean Donnelly

10122010_disccovering2.jpgTweetable Plot Synopsis: Interesting & kinda terrifying doc about 2 stalkerish fans of the ’80s pop icon Tiffany. Yes, apparently some people still care about her.

Biggest Success: Director Sean Donnelly has two fascinating subjects here: Jeff Turner, who’s been the past recipient of restraining orders from Tiffany because he’s done things like tried to give her a samurai sword, and Kelly McCormick, whose passion for all things Tiffany began after she had a vision about her during a coma after a near-fatal bike accident. But these characters’ frequently aberrant behavior could very easily make them the subject of ridicule, and turn “I Think We’re Alone Now” into a freak show. Thankfully, it is not. Donnelly manages to capture Turner and McCormick for good and for bad, and his camera is always sympathetic and never judgmental (though it’s occasionally embarrassed). It’s a moving portrait of two troubled people, a scary look at the dark, unhealthy side of fandom, and, yes, an occasionally funny story about the weird things they’re prone to do. (Sorry Jeff. Watching you strap on your “radionic psychotronic device” to commune spiritually with Tiffany cracked me up.)

Best Moment: Hard to pick one. The movie is just over an hour long, and many moments standout as perfect encapsulations of the characters’ warped worldviews. Maybe the most memorable is Jeff’s description to his Pastor — in front of the whole church! — of his trip to Glamourcon, which is described on the event’s website (which features ads for Playboy products) as a “celebration and marketplace of pin-up art & glamour,” but which is described by Jeff as a place to “renew friendships” with “erotic models” and “adult film stars.” And as Jeff narrates his experiences at Glamourcon to a visibly uncomfortable man of the cloth, Donnelly shows us his interactions at Glamourcon with several stars including a visibly uncomfortable Tiffany. My reaction to this incredible sequence? Visible discomfort.

10122010_disccovering3.jpg I Question: Though “I Think We’re Alone Now” is more of a pair of interlocking character studies, it does build to a climax of sorts: Jeff and Kelly meet in Las Vegas to attend a Tiffany concert. The film shows them speaking the telephone for the first time, carrying on an awkward conversation, then meeting in Vegas where they hang out and share a hotel room. The scenes are mesmerizing because of the tension that arises between the two — both want to envision themselves as the alpha dogs of Tiffany fandom, and neither is ready to share her with anyone — but Donnelly never explains how these two hooked up in the first place, and I question whether he didn’t connect them himself simply for the purpose of dramatic tension.

Lessons Learned: Never show up to a Tiffany concert early (especially on the West Coast) if you don’t want to have a conversation or ten with Jeff Turner.

10122010_disccovering4.jpgWorthy of a Theatrical Release? I can certainly understand why the film didn’t get one — it’s barely over an hour and it’s portrait of fandom is about as bleak, depressing, and uncomfortable as any documentary you will ever see. This is no “Trekkies” where it’s cute to run a Star Trek dentistry or spend all your money on action figures. Jeff and Kelly have Tiffany and almost nothing else. They live alone on disability, have very few friends, and wait for the day when Tiffany will realize that she’s meant to be with them. But that’s exactly what makes this film worthy, if nothing else, of viewing by a wider audience regardless of the platform (and, hey, if you’ve got Netflix, you can watch it instantly right now). I guess we can just chalk that up to another contradiction.

For Further Viewing: watch Jeff Turner’s reaction to watching “I Think We’re Alone Now” for the very first time.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.