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Joking about terrorism.

Joking about terrorism. (photo)

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In anticipation of today’s UK release of controversial terrorist comedy “Four Lions,” the British Times Online asks its weekly “Big Question.” This week: “Is it right to joke about terrorism?” This is a question with slightly greater relevance in the UK than the US, insofar as there have actually been several notable UK comedies related to the Iraq War and terrorist concerns already.

“In The Loop” is already well known; bolder is “Four Lions,” and the (at least in intent) slightly edgy “The Infidel,” about a Muslim who finds out he was born a Jew. That’s already a leap ahead of American film, which has so far confined its comedic endeavors to “Team America: World Police” (which safely stuck to North Korea anyway) and “An American Carol,” which no one but me and Bill O’Reilly viewers saw anyway.There was, of course, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “South Park” adventure a few weeks ago, and the attendant nervousness that’s induced. But there hasn’t really been any kind of comic engagement with our biggest international relations/national defense issue of the last ten years, which is surprising.

Far more understandable in light of Comedy Central’s reaction to the threats against Parker and Stone is the way in which the right-wing blogosphere have taken to arguing that Hollywood is scared of Islam while continuing to mock Christians (which is kind of true, but way overblown). But it’s strange how there isn’t even an American equivalent to “In The Loop,” one that would address the issue from the discreet remove of bloodless, upper-level politics. The closest we got was the end of “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which implied that Wilson’s success was ultimately a failure when no one followed up on all of his suggestions.

05132010_loop.jpgWhat the right wants is jokes about terrorism and terrorists – like the presumably uproarious notion that all the jihadists have the same last name in “An American Carol” — while the British comedies all veer apolitical-to-left and stay off the battlefield. Jihadist jokes are probably unnecessary, but we don’t have a reasonable form of cinematic political comedy either.

[Photos: “Four Lions,” Warp Films, 2010; “In The Loop,” IFC, 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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