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The MPAA’s new website is rated “R” for ridiculous.

The MPAA’s new website is rated “R” for ridiculous. (photo)

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Even for an organization as historically obtuse as the MPAA ratings board, the latest upgrade to their image is a mess — their new website,, with the catchy subhead “The Classification & Rating Administration (CARA),” is a pain to navigate and centered around an endless “About Us” historical overview with some definite polemics about the organization’s awesomeness:

Established in 1968, the voluntary movie rating system was born of a period of incredible social change in this country, when our society was opening up and embracing civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights and more. It is no coincidence that the expanding freedoms of our country and the birth of this cultural touchstone emerged hand in hand.

Even if ratings board founder Jack Valenti did work for LBJ, equating the civil rights movement with the establishment of the “R” rating seems a bit much. But this little bit of rhetoric also subliminally connects the MPAA with the progressive liberal movements of the ’60s, suggesting it’s not as conservative and fustian as everyone thinks it is.

Other highlights: “Ratings do not exist to cast judgment on a film or dictate the viewing habits of adults. Grown-ups have no use for such an approach in a free society. ” It’s the kind of rhetoric you’d expect to see in a stridently anti-Communist ’50s textbook. “Society,” in fact, is very important to the MPAA; it appears no less than eight times in the booklet they’ve put together. “Ultimately, the system was undone by society itself,” they say of the old production codes; also, “society has grown increasingly concerned about drug use since the 1970s,” which I don’t think is actually true. Other modifiers for society: “open,” “diverse,” “democratic.”

Then there’s this hilariously evasive, genteel description of how use of the word “fuck” can affect a film’s rating: “A motion picture’s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a ‘PG-13’ rating. More than one such expletive requires an ‘R’ rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context.”

The way the MPAA presents itself is tellingly defensive and self-aggrandizing, meekly casting itself in the passive voice according to society’s needs rather than rigorously enforcing a very peculiar view of the world.

By the way, the most endearingly specific MPAA rating of late was for “Alice In Wonderland”: “Rating PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.” It gives me a chance to share this horrifying clip of Sammy Davis Jr. as the caterpillar from the misguided-looking 1985 TV-musical version (also featuring Red Buttons, Scott Baio, Telly Savalas, John and Sally Struthers and others):

[Photos: the usual green-stripe preview card, MPAA; “Alice In Wonderland,” Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 1985]

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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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