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Slate Wars.

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"This is no more of a war than there is a war between men and maggots."Despite "War of the Worlds" being, as A. O. Scott put it, "so last week," it’s still generating some interesting rumblings over at Slate. Timothy Noah finds himself, surprisingly, taking umbrage at Spielberg’s undeniable 9/11 references scattered through the film: 

"War of the Worlds" is not a movie about 9/11. It isn’t even, really, an allegory about 9/11…Tapping the audience’s memories of the 9/11 attacks injects a frisson of real-world suffering that’s completely unearned. The movie lacks any construct elucidating further parallels between
9/11 and the imaginary invasion of Bayonne, N.J., by space aliens. The
9/11 trope has no meaning. It’s merely an elbow in the side, reminding
the audience of that day’s awful events.

This was the impression we were getting from the reviews (we haven’t seen it yet — oh, turn your judging eyes away!) but very few out there seemed to find Spielberg’s apparent lazy attempt to add heft to a summer blockbuster as obnoxious as it seemed to us. David Edelstein has a reply:

The film does evoke 9/11: in the gray ash that covers the hero after the first attack, the posters of the missing, the incomprehension of the populace, the presence of the ships—reminiscent of sleeper cells—underground. What I don’t get is why this elicits outrage. Forgive me: I thought movies—even big-budget summer movies—were supposed to confront national traumas. And I don’t find even a whiff of exploitation in Spielberg’s treatment.

He goes on to cite the long history of science fiction alluding to social issues, concentrating on "Godzilla," which, he points out, "a respectable body of critics—myself among them—consider…a haunting
depiction, by the Japanese themselves, of the trauma of Hiroshima and

Okay, fair enough. The best sci-fi/horror has always evoked larger social themes. We’re just not seeing the connection being drawn between 9/11 and the events of "WotW," other than that they both concern being under attack. Spielberg is too smart to draw parallels between the aliens and terrorists (because, ouch), and, as horrible as the 9/11 attacks were, the fears they generated really don’t merit the operatic mass destruction that takes place during the film, even as a metaphoric equivalent. It strikes us more that the references were thrown in because Spielberg felt that he couldn’t make a movie that laid to waste whole cities without some nod to the fact that, not so long ago, we watched the buildings come down, again and again, in the real world.

+ 9/11 Was No Summer Movie (Slate)
+ War of the Words (Slate)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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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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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

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