Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IFC goes commercial

I was saddened to read a thread over at the TCM boards yesterday in which somebody mentioned that IFC, which used to be the "Independent Film Channel" but which may or may not stand for anything now, has begun to interrupt the movies for commercials. I tuned in for a few minutes and, sure enough, that's the case.

It's a change that I suppose has been a long time in coming. When I first got DirecTV back in 2001, IFC had a lot of independent movies, as well as a fair number of foreign films that weren't getting an outlet any place else except for the one shot a week on TCM. Even then, IFC had more recent foreign films (from the 1980s and beyond) that still don't get on TCM. Some of the movies I first saw on IFC have made it to TCM, such as when TCM did the festival for the 50th anniversary of Janus Films, but others, such as Plein Soleil, known in English as Purple Noon and the original version of The Talented Mr. Ripley, haven't made it to TCM.

I'm not sure exactly when my disillusionment with IFC began. I think it might have taken off in earnest around the time they really started promoting their show The Whitest Kids UkNow (or however it's punctuated). I distinctly recall when they were promoting the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, about the perceived hypocrisy of the MPAA ratings board, one of the promotions had a member of the Whitest Kids cast say something to the effect of "Rate this" -- and give the middle finger to the camera. Real intelligent commentary.

IFC later began to add more and more TV shows that had already appeared on network TV, such as Arrested Development (which I never found funny in its original run), and also really really began to repeat movies even more than the Fox Movie Channel. At first they were down to three films during the morning, and then repeating them during the afternoon up to prime time; then afternoons began to feature the TV shows instead of movies.

I find it ironic that the IFC was one of the production companies behind the documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession. While I had problems with the documentary, it certainly seems an apt analogy now for the path the IFC has taken.

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