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Recommended: The Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments in Video Game Case

Recommended: The Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments in Video Game Case (photo)

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I wasn’t able to travel to Washington D.C for the opening arguments in Schwarzengger v. EMA, but Stephen Totilo was. Kotaku’s Deputy Editor has filed a report from the proceedings, where the nine justices of SCOTUS questioned lawyers on both sides about the kinds of restrictions and protections they would have applied to video games.

[California Attorney General Zackery] Morazzini’s opening statement was almost immediately interrupted by Justice Antonin Scalia who pointed out that Grimm’s fairy tales are very violent as well.

“So are you going to ban them too?” Scalia asked of the attorney general.

Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices and most vocal in the questioning of the state today, repeatedly and often with humor questioned Morazznii about the California law and its effects on the first amendment.

“You are asking us to create a whole new prohibition… what’s next after violence? Drinking? Movies that show drinking? Smoking?,” asked Scalia in the hearing.

“I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games,” Justice Samuel Alito joked.

But, the representation for the video game side of the case faced tough inquiries, too.

Some justices wondered if there was perhaps a valid interest in protecting minors from hyper-violent games.

“Imagining a game that allows a player to torture babies,” Justice Stephen Breyer asked. “Why isn’t it common sense for the state to say ‘Parents, if you want your 13-year-old to play it you have to buy it?’

While the justices did not betray intimate knowledge of playing games some seemed familiar with the medium. Justice Elena Kagan at one point asked California if Mortal Kombat would be banned under California’s law. “Half of the clerks [in the Court] have spent a considerable amount of time playing it,” she said. “I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Scalia quipped.

Morazzini said he wasn’t sure about Mortal Kombat but said that Postal 2, a game that was repeatedly discussed today would, as would violent Sega game Madworld.
At one point justice Scalia asked how much games cost. $50-$60, he was told by the gaming industry’s lead attorney, Paul Smith.

To win a decision, California needed to convince the Court that they should allow an exception to the First Amendment for extremely violent content that could legally be blocked from sale to kids, matching a similar court-accepted carve-out for certain types of sexual content.

“What makes video games special?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg asked. “How do you cut it off at video games?”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned, “Could you get rid of rap music too?” She said that she did not findd a five-minute clip of a violent game California made available to the court “entertaining.” But, she added, “That’s not the point.”

Kagan questioned whether the California law was too broad and wondered how one would define “morbid” violence. Scalia joked that California could start a “California Office of Censorship.”

It’s probably too early for either side to look for encouragement in the Justices’ remarks, but one thing that is heartening is hearing that the Robed Ones understand games as cultural artifacts and not just products with no creative provenance. SCOTUS has until June 2011 to issue a ruling, so the debate about the California legislation will surely rage until then. Head over to Kotaku to read all of Totilo’s piece.

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Give Back

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.

via GIPHY

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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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