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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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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.