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Bobcat Goldthwait on personal responsibility and his “anti-dummy” movie, “God Bless America”

god bless america

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By Jennifer Vineyard

Bobcat Goldthwait is back behind the camera with his latest dark comedy, “God Bless America,” which is an indictment of stupidity, cruelty, and reality television, all of which inspire a killing spree when the lead character decides to shoot anyone and everyone he finds repellant.

“Some people think this is an anti-gun movie, but no, it’s an anti-dummy movie,” the director told IFC.

Frank (played by longtime Goldthwait collaborator Joel Murray) has an empty life, in which he’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, lost his job and family, and watches way too much television, mostly to drown out the noise of a crying baby next door. When he sees the selfishness and ignorance he hates on reality shows echoed in real life, Frank decides to eradicate it whenever and wherever he encounters it — whether it means storming the stage of a music competition show in which the judges are making fun of a William Hung-like contestant or killing people who are talking on their cell phone at movie theater. Other targets include Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Jeff Foxworthy, and Michael Jackson.

“Some people will really go off if you even mention Michael Jackson,” Goldthwait said. “My take on the whole thing is that he was a perfect example of how people become ostriches. You’re never going to stop child abuse if you deny it. He was a very talented singer and dancer, but he clearly had a lot of problems. I mean, even if he hadn’t been inappropriate with children, I saw him dangle a baby out the window. That’s enough for me.”

In case you hadn’t guessed, Frank is a surrogate for Goldthwait to express his own frustrations. “I am Frank without the homicidal tendencies,” he said, laughing. “I am Frank in the sense that I have a naive view of the world, and I do wish people would be more nice and considerate.”

Goldthwait said that he made a decision about fifteen years ago “not to participate” in cruel jokes or behavior in his comedy, no matter how lucrative it might be. “It’s a stupid, dumb way to make a living,” he said. “While some comedians have material that transcends that, and makes some valid points, there’s just a ton who are only trying to continue their own fame, and I have no interest in doing that. It just seems pretty empty.”

But Goldthwait doesn’t expect any waves of self-recognition from the less nice or considerate in the audience who would be Frank’s targets.

“It’s a little late to retrain these people,” he said. “There are just some people who can’t apprehend how their actions affect other people, and that’s the world we live in. I blame Madison Avenue. And I also blame parents who maybe just clapped too hard when their kids pooped. They’re handing out trophies just because you were on a team.”

But without such people, Frank would have no excuse for his killing spree. Nor would he have an excuse if he just changed the channel or turned off the TV.

“He thinks he’s Holden Caufield with an AK-47,” Goldthwait said. “But here’s the thing: You could have a diet of listening only to NPR, or only watching stuff that you’d DVR-ed, so that you could control your intake. But you’re still going to know about Charlie Sheen’s breakdown. You might never watch anything related to Kim Kardashian, but you’re still going to know about her.”

“I don’t have hostility towards those people — they’re just attractive dummies,” he continued. “But I do have hostility with the people who are obsessed with them and their fame. I sometimes think, ‘Why do I need to know about this? I should get a dollar every time I hear Kim Kardashian’s name!'”

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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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