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Recommended: The Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments in Video Game Case

Recommended: The Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments in Video Game Case (photo)

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I wasn’t able to travel to Washington D.C for the opening arguments in Schwarzengger v. EMA, but Stephen Totilo was. Kotaku’s Deputy Editor has filed a report from the proceedings, where the nine justices of SCOTUS questioned lawyers on both sides about the kinds of restrictions and protections they would have applied to video games.

[California Attorney General Zackery] Morazzini’s opening statement was almost immediately interrupted by Justice Antonin Scalia who pointed out that Grimm’s fairy tales are very violent as well.

“So are you going to ban them too?” Scalia asked of the attorney general.

Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices and most vocal in the questioning of the state today, repeatedly and often with humor questioned Morazznii about the California law and its effects on the first amendment.

“You are asking us to create a whole new prohibition… what’s next after violence? Drinking? Movies that show drinking? Smoking?,” asked Scalia in the hearing.

“I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games,” Justice Samuel Alito joked.

But, the representation for the video game side of the case faced tough inquiries, too.

Some justices wondered if there was perhaps a valid interest in protecting minors from hyper-violent games.

“Imagining a game that allows a player to torture babies,” Justice Stephen Breyer asked. “Why isn’t it common sense for the state to say ‘Parents, if you want your 13-year-old to play it you have to buy it?’

While the justices did not betray intimate knowledge of playing games some seemed familiar with the medium. Justice Elena Kagan at one point asked California if Mortal Kombat would be banned under California’s law. “Half of the clerks [in the Court] have spent a considerable amount of time playing it,” she said. “I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Scalia quipped.

Morazzini said he wasn’t sure about Mortal Kombat but said that Postal 2, a game that was repeatedly discussed today would, as would violent Sega game Madworld.
At one point justice Scalia asked how much games cost. $50-$60, he was told by the gaming industry’s lead attorney, Paul Smith.

To win a decision, California needed to convince the Court that they should allow an exception to the First Amendment for extremely violent content that could legally be blocked from sale to kids, matching a similar court-accepted carve-out for certain types of sexual content.

“What makes video games special?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg asked. “How do you cut it off at video games?”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned, “Could you get rid of rap music too?” She said that she did not findd a five-minute clip of a violent game California made available to the court “entertaining.” But, she added, “That’s not the point.”

Kagan questioned whether the California law was too broad and wondered how one would define “morbid” violence. Scalia joked that California could start a “California Office of Censorship.”

It’s probably too early for either side to look for encouragement in the Justices’ remarks, but one thing that is heartening is hearing that the Robed Ones understand games as cultural artifacts and not just products with no creative provenance. SCOTUS has until June 2011 to issue a ruling, so the debate about the California legislation will surely rage until then. Head over to Kotaku to read all of Totilo’s piece.

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Final Countdown

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 IFC.com

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Rev Up

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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Give Back

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…