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Product placement.

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08282008_somerstown.jpgThere’s an interesting piece at the Guardian from David Cox, who sees end times-signs in the fact that Shane Meadows’ “Somers Town” (which, I know, enough already) was paid for by Eurostar: “A fateful Rubicon has been crossed,” he declares.

Meadows didn’t extract money from Eurostar to facilitate a project of his own. He agreed to place his skills at the service of one of theirs. Of course, plenty of directors make commercials, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Advertising tries to sell us something, and it doesn’t pretend otherwise.

Somers Town, however, carries no warning message, like the ‘Advertorial’ banner atop of every page of a sponsored newspaper supplement. Corporate authorship isn’t acknowledged until the very last line of the credits, and then simply by the word ‘Eurostar’ attached to a copyright symbol in tiny type. For its £750,000 or so, the company bought not just an advertisement, but the capacity to disguise its advertising as art. A pretty good deal by the current standards of the ad market.

Cox does acknowledge the retorts that immediately come to my mind — that every film that isn’t paid for out of the filmmaker’s own pocket has outside obligations to work with, whether they’re studio, government or, ahem, advertiser expectations. But he calls for an upholding of the “separation of editorial from advertising,” as seen in print and broadcasting — which, given the current state of the media, is like suggesting that because your roof is leaking you should take shelter at your neighbor’s house, which is on fire. “Somers Town” is just the nearest example of a line that was crossed, at least in the U.S., years ago — see (well, don’t see) 2005’s “Supercross: The Movie,” produced in partnership with Clear Channel Entertainment, also responsible for the televised races for which the film is an incoherent advertisement.

Incidentally, Brandcameo’s Product Placement Awards are trying to stake out a spot in that depressing, if prescient, area, declaring the year’s best and worst incidents of product placement, including “Iron Man”‘s Burger King up/down:

It wasn’t enough to have Tony “Iron Man” Stark scarf a few BK burgers straight from the bag. Taking product placement to a whole new level were Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr.’s comments to Empire Magazine stating that it was a trip to Burger King that convinced him to clean up his life. Though, in true product placement tradition, the brand doesn’t always get to control how it is placed: “I have to thank Burger King. It was such a disgusting burger I ordered. I had that, and this big soda, and I thought something really bad was going to happen.”

[Photo: “Somers Town,” The Works International, 2008]

+ Cinema sells its soul (Guardian)
+ 2008 brandcameo Produce Placement Awards (Brand Channel)

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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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