The Cultural Gutter

dangerous because it has a philosophy

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

I Double Dog Dare You

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Last month I wrote about Jackass as a cultural project, but what I initially intended to write about was how I feel just a little bit better about myself and the world after watching it. And no, it’s not because they’re all more of a jackass than I am. Like this:Like Loading…

The Social Relevance of Jackassery

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Jackass isn’t as stupid as it seems on the surface. I mean, there’s no question it’s jackassery and that’s the main draw, but it’s also a really interesting cultural project. Like this:Like Loading…

Ready for Prime Time in Belgrade

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This month Gutter Guest Star Kat Gligorijevic writes about watching tv and movies in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Part 1 “Tumbling for Boy George in Baghdad” can be found here. It was the late ’80s and I was nine years old when my family returned to Belgrade from Baghdad. I was already a more sophisticated television viewer. […]

Tumbling for Boy George in Baghdad

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This month the Cultural Gutter features the first of two articles by Katarina Gligorijevic about growing up with Western pop culture in Baghdad and Belgrade. My first time setting foot on North American soil was in 1989, when my family arrived in Toronto. It has remained my home ever since, and I credit the ease […]

Pilgrim’s Progress

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Former Comics Editor, Guy Leshinski has very kindly given us permission to reprint a prophetic interview with Bryan Lee O’Malley in 2005.  Will Bryan Lee O’Malley attain the Holy Grail of cartoonists? As Bryan says, “We’ll see…” There’s a girl sitting on the subway. She’s 16 or so, in a brown corduroy jacket and a […]

Don’t Let The Sheepinator Fool You

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Does being amused by turning non-ovine creatures into sheep make you a bad person? It doesn’t seem like a serious question, but appearances can fool you. Especially, according to Plato, if you are a fool. I think it’s safe to say that there would have been no video games in the Republic. Like this:Like Loading…

Fooling the System

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“Fisher,” they’d cry, “we’re going to find you.” They were looking in the wrong place. I was already somewhere else. And as they approached the last position they saw me, that somewhere else was right behind them. Either a clean bullet to the head or some other form of quick, close, personal death, they slump […]

Saturday Morning Happy Hour

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Racial epithets. Topless women. Speeches interrupted by blowjobs. Steve Guttenberg. Doesn’t seem like fodder for a Saturday morning cartoon show. But in the late 80s the film Police Academy, which subjected viewers to such adult situations, spawned an animated series of the same name. Running for two seasons, the series featured the original franchise’s characters–Mahoney, […]

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Science Fiction Again

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It’s been years since I’ve read any straight-up science-fiction. You know, the classic stuff by authors like Arthur C. Clarke or Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. But I got back into it recently through A.E. Van Vogt, having picked-up a used copy of Empire of the Atom. Like this:Like Loading…

Avatar SCHMAvatar, or, Change the Playa Not the Game

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The film industry is a magical business. I don’t mean magical in the “Hollywood movie magic” sense, as is typically employed by awards show musical numbers and the California Board of Tourism. I mean that it is an industry with a business model that is not, and by its very nature cannot, be constructed on […]

If You Could Turn Back Time

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You remember the ending of the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve, directed by Richard Donner: Superman, too late to save Lois Lane, flies around the world at tremendous speed, reversing events so he can have another chance to save her. The facts seem straightforward, but I find that people do not agree on the […]

The Fine Art of Dreamthieving

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Michael Moorcock’s latest, and last, fantasy trilogy winds different strands of his fiction together intointertwining, virtually meta-fictional narratives reflecting on mythic and heroic archetypes and the power of stories to create new realities.  If you like Moorcock, you will enjoy these books.  If you don’t like Moorcock, they probably won’t change your mind.  And if […]

Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?

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Just how many times  do I have to kill this guy? It’s a question I’ve certainly asked myself while playing various games, along with Why aren’t you dead yet? and How many damn heads does it have anyway? Everybody’s version of tedium is different, but endlessly dodging around waiting for some gargantuan horror to blink […]

What’s the Matter with Runescape?

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I recently had a conversation with my ten year-old son that I had been longing to have since before he was born, since before I was even sure I really wanted to have kids.  We were well into the eleventh hour of a game of Risk that had seen the empires of my wife and […]

Would You Let Your Daughter Marry Godzilla?

Serious as radiation poisoning

When Godzilla first waded out of the ocean to trample Odo Island in 1954, he was a monster for the times, serious as radiation poisoning. Japan was still rebuilding in the wake of WWII. Wartime traumas were still fresh. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only nine years past, and there was a new […]

Games Through a Comix Lens

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The book Understanding Comics, published in 1993, was comic writer and artist Scott McCloud’s attempt to deconstruct, demystify, and lay out the magic of the sequential art form. Written in the form of a comic itself, it was one mechanism by which comics rose from the shadows of culture to become a more accepted art […]

Do You Want Fries With That?

A brief history of advergames

Last year when I heard that Burger King was planning to release a series of video games for the Xbox 360, I thought the game industry was headed for a new low. To me, this went way beyond the shameless hordes of promotional tie-ins to popular movies and TV shows, and seemed more inappropriate than […]

Hopped Up on Speedrunning

Keeping up with the Joneses in the fast lane

Shortly after 2 pm on the afternoon of May 18th, 2005, Brandon Erickson stepped back from the Star Wars arcade cabinet he’d been playing continuously, with no deaths, extra credits, or nap breaks, for the past 54 hours, having failed to break the Twin Galaxies record of three hundred million points in 49 hours established […]

Down and Out in the Mushroom Kingdom

Brother, can you spare a 1UP?

Urban outdoorsmen rejoice! No longer must your vocation go overlooked in favour of the glamorous professions of Space Ranger, Secret Agent, Ace Pilot, and Ultimate Fighting Champion: 2006 saw the high-profile self-proclaimed first video game ever to be released featuring a homeless person as its protagonist — American McGee’s “Bad Day L.A.” Its premise is […]

I Am A MechWarrior

1st Person VS 2nd Person: Fight!

“…if Brian is watching the movie Babe, we don’t say, ‘Brian is a pig.’” –Jesper Juul, “Introduction to Game Time” ~~~ I am a MechWarrior. I am a soldier on Halo. But I am not Lara Croft, although Tomb Raider is my favourite game. Since my hand-me-down PS2 died years ago I haven’t been playing […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

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    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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    The Smithsonian Magazine has a gallery of US spy satellite launches. “Just as NASA creates specially designed patches for each mission into space, [National Reconnaissance Office] follows that tradition for its spy satellite launches. But while NASA patches tend to feature space ships and American flags, NRO prefers wizards, Vikings, teddy bears and the all-seeing eye. With these outlandish designs, a civilian would be justified in wondering if NRO is trolling.”

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    At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from key individuals and tribes. What it showed me was that you had to identify and build relationships with those opinion-formers – the DJs, the music industry, the fashion industry, the underground media.” (via @timmaughan)

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