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Have the movies gotten more conservative?

Have the movies gotten more conservative? (photo)

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As they’ve done for years, the Christian Film & Television Commission — the brainchild of Dr. Ted Baehr, whose Movieguide reviews movies separately for quality and “acceptability” from a “Biblical perspective” — has issued a report claiming to correlate box office success with “conservative, morally uplifting, patriotic movies and movies with strong Pro-American, pro-capitalist, and anti-socialist content.”

That Baehr’s organization still uses language like “anti-socialist content” — as if it were the ’50s and we were about to revive the likes of “I Married A Communist” — is charmingly ridiculous. As is some of its data: the release points out that “Avatar,” “Creation” and “Land of the Lost” had an average gross far lower than that of “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” “The Blind Side,” “A Christmas Carol” and something called “The Cross” — technically true, but meaningless. (“>The trailer for “The Cross” is worth watching — it’s like an incoherent religious take on “We Didn’t Start The Fire.”)

But could there actually be something to the organization’s claims that mainstream success correlates with family-friendly fare with unexceptional (if any) political views? The answer is probably yes, with some major caveats. Even as the final barriers on what can be shown have disintegrated, the inclination to go there — to indulge in hyper-violence, graphic sex, or such — is rarely exercised in the mainstream.

You could consider this a reaction to the breakthroughs of the ’70s, along the lines of how Jessica Grose speculates in Slate that the Millennials look down on casual sex and promiscuity because they’re a “corrective generation” who saw an unpleasant straight line from ’60s sexual lib to the national embarrassment that was the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.

04202010_jazz.jpgYou could also argue that movies are timid about playing with any kind of fire because it’s easier to hit multiple demographics when you smooth out anything that could alienate anyone. It’d be even simpler to note that many of the groundbreaking movies commonly cited as Hollywood’s ’70s peaks didn’t make much money — hence, there’s no compelling reason to make more of them. But that still wouldn’t explain the conspicuous sexlessness of so many American indie films that don’t have to worry about MPAA ratings, or why so many overtly liberal films are didactic and terrible.

The good Dr. Baehr has, in his own odd way, a point. Despite blockbuster anomalies indicating a desire for more violence (“300”), raunch (“The Hangover”) or generally non-pious behavior that wouldn’t survive on basic cable uncut, American filmmaking as a whole has increasingly shied away from sex and drugs in the last 30 years. There are films from the ’70s that have things on screen that feel more pungent than anything we have now. The ’70s had “All That Jazz”; we had to settle for “Nine.”

[Photos: “I Married A Communist,” RKO Radio Pictures, 1949; “All That Jazz,” 20th Century Fox, 1979]

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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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