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Centers of their own universes.

Centers of their own universes. (photo)

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The recent docs “Collapse” and “The Carter” both struck me as informative while also showcasing some undernourished interviewing. In each film, we’re presented with subjects — doomsayer Michael C. Ruppert and rapper Lil Wayne — whose views of the world can’t be contended or shaken without the interview being over. In both films, we come out with a more revealing time-capsule for the future.

The problem here is one of cultural fragmentation. “The Carter” has been compared — by ye ed, among others — to “Don’t Look Back,” but the difference is huge. In “Don’t Look Back,” Bob Dylan is Artist Vs. Media, and Media is a monolithic, oppositional force. In “Collapse” and “The Carter,” the subjects are convinced that anyone who isn’t already on their side of the fence is the enemy, and that only one kind of interviewer is the right media.

In both cases, the interviewers aren’t very good. In “Collapse,” director Chris Smith asks the questions, and he runs around Michael Ruppert, never challenging his uniquely paranoid view of the world or his assertions that, say, Dick Cheney was personally monitoring his activities — a shame, because Ruppert’s prognostications aren’t necessarily that far off. Smith settles for a portrait rather than trying to tease out what actually makes sense in Ruppert’s theories, making him just another crank.

In “The Carter,” none of the questions asked of Wayne make much sense. They’re not posed by the team making the film; they come from other media entities, hapless journalists blundering through sycophantic, inconclusive questions designed to lead neither one way nor the other.

In both cases, we’ve got two guys so firmly in the centers of their mental universes — one through a semi-logical, apocalyptic framework without any opposing coterie, the other through the warped perspective of drug abuse and immense commercial success — that challenging them wouldn’t be “courageous” or “dialectical.” It would just shut off access.

Is the non-interventional interview the future? The fragmentation of dialogue is the fragmentation of civility and of interviewing in good-faith. These days, it seems like increased signaling that you’re from the same sub-culture and (at least) surface-level sycophancy are what it takes to get through an interview.

[Photos: “Collapse,” Vitagraph Films, 2009; “The Carter,” Virgil Films & Entertainment, 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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