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Free range product placement.

Free range product placement. (photo)

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Brett Ratner, modelizer, man about town and hack director responsible for such fare as “X3” and the “Rush Hour” movies, has always been best at marketing himself as the face of smooth Hollywood craftsmanship. So his talent as an adman is no surprise. Speaking Thursday at New York’s Advertising Week on “consumer attention in a media-saturated world,” Ratner offered advice on product placement and how to do it right.

Ratner’s working on “Beverly Hills IV,” and — since Eddie Murphy will obviously drive a car — he has to figure out which one. But rather than cut a deal first and then figure out a way to force a product into the film, he stresses that it’s better to approach it organically, from the other wise. “What are my needs for the story? What car do I need that can become a character in the movie?” He then want on to explain how seeing a Porsche 928 in “Risky Business” as a young man made him want one. So there you go.

For once in my life, I’m not going to make fun of Ratner: I don’t think he’s wrong in this. It’s seems a little ridiculous to speak of a car as “a character embedded in the story,” but it’s really not that far off from how many people define themselves by their clothing choices or iPod playlists. Product placement is always product placement, even when it’s well done: E.T. was originally supposed to be into M&Ms, but when the company turned it down, Reese’s stepped into the breach. Either way, it made sense to ’80s kids and thereon: it’s hard to grow up in a corporation-saturated environment and not develop certain irrational attachments, even if you know they’ve been bought and paid for.

Trying to create characters who have those same attachments isn’t much of a stretch. There’s a memorably awful moment in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” when — in the middle of a hectic mall action set-piece — half the frame is taken up by a person, and half by a Pepsi vending machine, the kind of blatant, over-the-top ploy that’ll yank you straight out of the movie. What Ratner’s proposing is still advertising, with no designation as such, right in the middle of the movie, but if product placement has to be done — and it’s never going away — this might as well be the way to do it.

[Photo: “Beverly Hills Cop,” Paramount Pictures, 1984]

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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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