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Blue Movies Review

on Wed, 08/03/2011 - 00:00

The World Wide Web is truly a wonderful thing. “Everyday people” have become citizen journalists in the Twenty First Century because of it, bringing issues and news to the forefront that has often been forced to the back pages by old-school media. Struggling artists are now able to get their works out to the masses without the need of restrictive modes of distribution. Creative types have also benefited from the freedom of the Internet, including independent comic book writers, musicians and narrative video makers. Despite the onslaught of equalization in areas that have traditionally been closed-off to the masses, however, the industry that has arguably witnessed the largest upswing due to the World Wide Web is that of pornography.

“A quarter of everything typed into every search engine is porn,” fictitious director Max Chapman explains in the web series Blue Movies. “Every single second, 25,258 people are looking for porn. And every minute, more people are watching porn than those who live in Rome. Our recession-proof industry made two-point-eight-four billion dollars last year. Billion, with a ‘B.’”

Numbers do not lie—even those from fabricated sources—and writer/director Scott Brown took advantage of the popularity of pornography in 2009 with his web series Blue Movies, a television-style sitcom set within the realm of a fictitious San Fernando Valley production studio. Blue Movies itself is not porn, however, but an uproarious send-off of the industry instead, and while its subject matter may be considered racy to some, in actuality it is as much of a “comedy that happens to take place in a porn studio” as M*A*S*H was a “comedy that happened to take place in Korea” or Seinfeld was a “comedy that happened to take place in New York City.” The settings obviously play a role in those shows, but quality humor is still funny regardless of the locale.

That is not to suggest that Blue Movies is acceptable viewing for all age groups. Although no actual nudity occurs in the web series, plenty of naked bodies—with strategically placed magazines and coffee cups—are sprinkled within the frames, and the dialogue contains the kind of expletives one would expect to be uttered on the set of an actual pornographic film. But while the jokes may be the type that would make one’s mother blush, they are never truly “crude” as the humor is filled with plenty of wit and extends naturally from the surroundings, the characters and the narrative itself.

Yes, unlike most pornographic films, Blue Movies does indeed have a narrative. New intern Tom Fisher (Beck Bennett) is initially excited to find himself working at a movie studio, albeit in an unpaid position, but his enthusiasm quickly wanes when he discovers the types of films that Pornamount Pictures actually produces. While Tom’s disdain is obvious, director Max Chapman (Jareb Dauplaise) is able nonetheless to convince him to stay on board—although part of Tom’s decision centers on his attraction for assistant Anna Wesbaum (Sascha Alexander). It is the potential romantic relationship that not only keeps Tom from jumping ship but stepping up to resolve growing conflicts within the realms of Pornamount as well.

The second episode of Blue Movies is a prime example. Unaware of the conservative cultural of the Middle East, Max inadvertently approaches a Dubai businessman named Sayed Mahmoud (Chacko Vadaketh) to fund his current film project. When the Arab arrives at the studio, it is left to Anna and Tom to shield him from the true nature of the production. In true screwball-comedy fashion, the two weave their way through the hallways to keep topless actresses from being seen while hiding various sex toys and items along the way. Unfortunately, just as Max and the businessman shake hands in agreement, the secret of Pornamount Pictures is inadvertently revealed and it is left to Tom to save the day.

“These people actually love what they do, even if it’s really sick and really, really sticky and a whole lot of other things that you wouldn’t want me to talk about right now,” he tells Mahmoud. “But they know how to make money. Don’t think about it as sick, just think about it as an alluring depiction of the human condition.”

Later installments feature Tom assisting Anna in the writing of a new pornographic script. While such a task may not seem difficult, Max Chapman considers himself an auteur of “artistic” porn and uses actual award-winning and acclaimed motion pictures as inspiration. His X-rated version of Out of Africa, for instance, is mentioned in the first episode of Blue Movies and small clips of other films that Chapman has reinterpreted are briefly seen throughout the web series, including The Dark Knight and Shawshank Redemption.

Despite being only five episodes in length, Blue Movies is still a classic web series and continues to establish an underground cult status on the Internet. According to its website, the series amassed one million views by March 2010, two million by May and a staggering four million by November of that same year. In May of 2011, meanwhile, web series network KoldCast reported that Blue Movies was amongst its top five most watched shows. While the inherent popularity of its pornographic subject on the World Wide Web may indeed have something to do with its success, in actuality the professionally-crafted Blue Movies is a funny and worthwhile web series regardless of the setting of the show.

“I think if you’re lucky to make money doing something you love, then you’re lucky enough,” Max tells Tom in the final episode. Fans of the web series medium, meanwhile, are lucky to find enjoyment in Blue Movies—even if it is the type of show that seldom uses a “Wet Floor” sign for non-sexual accidents.

Anthony Letizia (August 3, 2011)

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