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Well, we did ask.

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Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Justin ChatwinYesterday we grumbled about what Spielberg was getting at with all his "War of the Worlds" 9/11 references. Today, there are two attempts to slog through what it all means.

Kevin Maher at the London Times calls the film "the first true post-9/11 disaster movie." According to him, we are all afficted by the Nero Complex:

It was diagnosed in the 1950s by the French film theorist André Bazin, and it describes the vicarious pleasures experienced by popular cinemagoers who, like the bloodthirsty emperor, delight in the spectacular destruction of cities, towns and various conspicuous landmarks.

Maher argues that the modern blockbuster had become a spectable of mass destruction (see 1996’s "Independence Day" and "Twister," 1998’s "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact") and was then blamed for 9/11 ("The movies set the pattern, and these people (terrorists) copied the movies," announced Robert Altman). And so, nearly four years after, we’re still trying to reconcile our desire to see cities burn and buildings crumble for entertainment with the inescapable images of those things actually happening still very much in the public consciousness.

For Maher, then, the nods to 9/11 are a sign of Spielberg’s concession to the fact that the age of cheering at wanton destruction is over:

Here, repeatedly, the Nero Complex money-shots occur off-camera. A 747 crash; the big climactic confrontation between the US military and the aliens; the very demise of the aliens themselves are all alluded to, rather than revealed.

And it’s not because Spielberg doesn’t want to show it, or doesn’t have the technical means to do so. No, the real lesson of "War of the Worlds" is that Spielberg doesn’t show it simply because he can’t.

In his review for the LA Weekly, Scott Foundas has a different, and particularly weird (if interesting) interpretation:

From the moment of the film’s first alien attack…"War of
the Worlds" announces itself as a reverse inventory of 20th- and
21st-century atrocities, beginning with 9/11 (blinding clouds of debris
filling the streets of New York and airplanes falling from the sky) and
winding its way back through the L.A. riots (a truly terrifying scene
in which Cruise is pulled from his car and beaten by an enraged mob),
the corpse-strewn rivers of Rwanda, the battlefields and deportation
trains of WWII, and even (in a perilous drawbridge scene) the sinking
of the Titanic, with its eternal reminder of man’s hubristic folly.

We haven’t seen the film (and still dunno if we want to, frankly) but reading these is infinitely more intruiging than any of the ads Paramount has churned out.

+ When the killing had to stop (Times of London)
+ Starfire and Brimstone (LA Weekly)

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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.


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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