DID YOU READ

Against The Superhero Fatigue Argument

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Are audiences experiencing “superhero fatigue”? At the outset it should be noted in passing that this sickness unto death, this alleged superhero fatigue, is a year old argument. That would make it a manageable medical condition, this superhero fatigue. The studios have not, so far as I know, called a halt to all the superhero movies presently in the pipeline. Quite the contrary, it would seem. In the next few years there will be another Iron Man film, another “Avengers film,” another “Thor,” “Wolverine” and even “Captain America.” And that’s just a handful of the Marvel-based characters getting another close-up. It would seem that reports about the death of superhero films are a bit exaggerated.

Second, even before this summer began, critics were diagnosing this alleged malady, finding symptoms of this superhero fatigue in every box office underperform.  They even went so far as to diagnose superhero fatigue in films that were commercially successful – but not box office smashes. Their measure of the success of a superhero film, it would seem, was to be wildly successful or risk fall into – and here I cannot resist the reference — the negative zone. It is almost as if a certain type of critic, perhaps one that didn’t grow up on comic books, perhaps one who finds their mythology odious, is engaging what can only be properly construed as a form of wish fulfillment. Any excuse to hasten the genre’s demise.

Despite the glut of death-of-the-superhero-movie-genre stories online, by normally intelligent film writers mind you, the numbers, quite frankly, do not support their argument.  “The Avengers” is the third highest domestic and globally earning film of all time.” The Amazing Spider-Man,” released in July, has made over $260 million domestically. And “The Bourne Legacy” – superhero-ish, to be sure  — which underperformed in its release, broke $103.7 million in week five.

Rewind to one year ago, at the origin of the superhero fatigue.  Yes, many superhero movies have underperformed in the past year or so — I’m looking at you, “Green Lanter”n — many more, however, did well.  But there is always a tendency to go for the snarky post, especially when it involves Nick Cage playing Ghost Riser. There was – and I can think of no other way to say this – an almost villainous delight in the spectacular failure of Green Lantern. In some of the reviews one can almost hear the devilish laughter and the twisting of mustaches as the critics concocted this superhero fatigue meme out of naught else but thin air and their own personal distaste for the whole superhero genre. An entire multi-billion dollar act of escapist entertainment cannot be laid to rest on the shoulders of Ryan Reynolds.

It was a rough summer. With the usual distractions of electronic devices, 24/7 cable and the Olympics – real life superheroes this summer  – there were plenty of reasons to stay home and not buy a ticket at the cineplex. This was also, more to our present timeline, not a good week for the movie industry. A recent week saw the lowest cumulative ticket sales in a decade. The top film – “The Possession” – took in less than ten million in its opening weekend. Further, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on soda over 16 ounces – if it becomes as influential around the country as his indoor smoking ban – could really eat into movie theater revenues.  These three examples may be why the chorus of superhero naysayers appears to be growing rather than receding, becoming emboldened despite the genre’s solid numbers. It was a bad week for all films, not just those involving super-powers and cosmic adventures in spandex and elaborate origin backstory.

“The Dark Knight Rises,” though not as financially as successful as the previous Chris Nolan Batman films, was still a success. Not only that, but “Dark Knight Rises” had, no pun intended, an incredible uphill climb. “The Dark Knight Rises,” which had one of the most challenging opening weekends of any film ever, has a cumulative box office of over $437 million by September 9th, and is on track to pull in a half a billion dollars. That is not bad for an entertainment experience that involved, in its first few weeks, a serious police presence around the nation as well as, in some cases, intrusive bag searches.

It was indeed a cruel summer for movies. But the superhero genre, spawned from the comics of our youth, has faced tougher adversaries than the web, the fall TV schedule or even a soda ban by a super-villainous Mayor who essentially bought his office (cue the devilish laughter). The superhero film genre is just getting its second wind. And I can’t wait.

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.