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“2012,” confirming China’s place as our dominant superpower.

“2012,” confirming China’s place as our dominant superpower. (photo)

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Perspective is everything. For example, Christian Toto at right-wing site Pajamas Media concludes “Armored” is an okay movie despite its mediocre script because it “uses an anti-war refrain to set its story in motion, but ultimately showcases a soldier’s strength and heroism in the explosive final reel.” Meanwhile, Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere confirms that “Avatar” is every bit a piece of liberal propaganda about loving the earth and that, for once, all the obsessing over decoding the liberal propaganda subliminally inserted in H’wood films is justified.

So it’s fun to read about “2012”‘s booming reception in China, where it’s been received glowingly. At $65 million and counting, it’s the most successful foreign film ever released in China. Folks aren’t coming for the inadvertent laughs and disaster porn; they’re coming to see a proud portrait of China as our dominant superpower, creating product (in this case, arks) that the world is literally depending on. The LA Times piece quotes Shi Ying — 20-year-old computer science student — who sounds convinced of the film’s almost literal truth: “At the end of the world, China will build an ark. There will be the same question of money, and China will also be very pragmatic.”

12142009_2012_6.jpgAre those pro-Chinese overtones are deliberate or incidental? Roland Emmerich is not noted as one of our more nuanced geopolitical thinkers. “Some see Emmerich’s inclusion of China as a ploy to access the growing mainland market,” Lily Kuo writes — an absorbing if not entirely plausible conspiracy theory, presuming that most American viewers are too thick to notice they’re not watching mere blockbuster carnage but a prediction of America’s declining global status, that their political/economic views can be safely discounted and that Chinese viewers aren’t just the future of manufacturing but of box-office grosses as well.

Either way, foreign viewers are bringing, en masse, a lens to bear on “2012” that not a single American critic picked up on, much less discussed in depth. In part it gives the lie to Big Hollywood‘s paranoid critiques of every movie not centered around righteous heartland evangelicals as a calculated insult to the silent majority. None of those interpretations have ever caught on except inside the blogosphere echo chamber. But here’s an entire demographic interpreting a movie presumably not meant as an ideological statement first and foremost as a major geopolitical shift.

Now that’s impressive. Well played, Mr. Emmerich.

[Photos: “2012,” Sony, 2009]

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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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