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Ways to object to “Precious.”

Ways to object to “Precious.” (photo)

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For anyone familiar with habitual barnburner Armond White and his politics, it’s zero surprise that the NY Press critic objects strenuously to “Precious.”

His review of the film has, as usual, much food for the comment trolls, particularly in his insistence that, by attaching their names and confessing personal histories of abuse, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey are converting “their private agendas into heavily hyped social preoccupation,” which I guess means… child abuse is really just another way for a couple of whiny celebrities to beg for attention? He also compares “Precious” to “The Birth of a Nation” and does a good job of hiding the fact that he does have a point — any movie that features a morbidly obese black woman stealing a bucket of fried chicken probably isn’t as nuanced as it thinks it is.

Just to make sure he alienates any potential allies, though, White saves his best salvo for the last paragraph, reminding everyone that no matter how much he dislikes any given movie, he hates his fellow critics more. The same Armond who instructed us not to trust any critic who endorsed “WALL-E” (effectively all of them) says that what was even worse than “Precious” itself was “the ordeal of watching it with an audience full of patronizing white folk at the New York Film Festival.” He then proceeds to commit his semi-factual error for the week, proclaiming his certainty that the crowd at Harlem’s Magic Johnson theater would laugh it off the screen; would that be the same theater where it was test-screened pre-Sundance and widely acclaimed? Yup. Arguing this on strictly racial lines won’t work.

Still, I have to concede a point to Mr. White — there do seem to be plenty of guilty white liberal critics signing off on this movie for reasons other than pure admiration, as patiently spelled out by the L Magazine‘s Mark Asch. Even the judicious pan from Slate‘s Dana Stevens’ hedges its bets in the headline with an apologetic “Sorry, I didn’t like this movie.”

Meanwhile, way to the right of Armond sits a Wall Street Journal editorial by Juan Williams, which is about how awesome “The Cosby Show” was and how terrible ghetto literature is and how it encourages pathological images of blackness sold back to the community. Basically, it’s like an episode of “The Boondocks” without the jokes. But you could substitute pretty much any cultural artifact Williams disapproves of for “Precious” and have the same ready-made editorial.

Still, my favorite objection to “Precious” is an entirely common-sense one from Newsweek, where, in a brief but well-done piece, Jennie Yabroff points out that Precious loves math class at the start of the movie, but upon entering alternative school is encouraged to journal her life away and never does math again. “The world does not reward self-expression as readily or consistently as it rewards a good head for numbers,” Yabroff scolds, pitilessly dissecting the cliche of self-rehabiliation through journaling. This polemic in favor of math education being celebrated on-screen is actually a far more trenchant analysis of the film than any of the criticism thus far.

[Photo: “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” Lions Gate, 2009]

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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

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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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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