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When anticipation becomes everything.

When anticipation becomes everything. (photo)

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Slate cartoonist James Sturm has been conducting an experiment in seeing what his life would be like if he quit the internet entirely for four months.

It’s a fascinating series — not least because he’s already had a lapse — that reminds us that even those who work at home are no less plugged-in to the online world than those with office jobs (maybe more so, if you ever have to consult anyone who’s not there). And that’s, of course, the prime readership for many blogs.

Moviegoers haven’t gotten more voracious — after all, by the 1910s, Photoplay magazine was already off and running, with celebrity culture way out there and exhaustively covered. The difference between then and now is the studio’s gradual loss of power over their stars’ images.

But the promotion of the films themselves is a different story. Studios used to unleash, at careful intervals, little “behind-the-scenes” featurettes (most obviously staged), as well as collectible lobby cards (for the most part discontinued by 1985, but still produced by Hollywood studios for consumption abroad).

07142010_lobby.jpgThat — plus maybe the occasional trailer — was pretty much all viewers had to go off of going into a movie. Even as coverage of entertainment grew exponentially into a self-sustaining media industry, you had a pretty decent shot of going into a movie having maybe only seen one or two images of it altogether.

Obviously, this is no longer true. The other day when I saw the second “Inception” trailer for the first time in a theater, I was pleasantly gratified to realize I hadn’t seen it yet.

With so many content mills waiting to be filled, the release of a trailer online is a mini-premiere in and of itself, one seemingly “reviewed” (or at least scanned for extrapolations about the forthcoming film) by at least half as many publications as will actually end up reviewing the finished product. The same goes for the merest still picture, production set photo or even casting rumors.

I’m not sure what all this does for film fandom, but I’m pretty sure the 24-hour news cycle is unhealthy. Sites have to update more and more to maintain readership attention, so it’s inevitable that studios would release more and more material to stoke interest — it’s a cheaper form of publicity for sure, though it’s not lust for information that’s driving it, just more space to fill.

07142010_inception.jpgPeople often claim that the internet has fostered more productive discussions among non-pros about movies. I think it’s true, but that it probably serves more of a role before the release of the film.

Most mainstream audiences can agree about what’s good and bad, and those are the movies that get the most online press (aside from genre fare). Because of that, there’s really not a whole lot to talk about once it’s out there. But angrily prognosticating what’ll come of a movie has become what the internet’s built for.

I suspect it’s part of the reason people who haven’t seen a movie yet nonetheless get furious with negative reviews for stuff they haven’t even seen yet.

[Photos: “Photoplay,” public domain, 1921; “Hercules in New York” lobby card, RAF Industries, 1969; “Inception,” Warner Bros., 2010]

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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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