The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

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

Dealing with the R-Type Personality

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R-Type has a funny way of showing its affection. It doesn’t give you black eyes, but it still makes them red and twitchy. You don’t eat as much. You abuse caffeine and other stimulants, as if that makes much of a difference. Its benchmark of expectation keeps rising. Make no mistake: The standards presented will […]

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 […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Gutter’s own Carol infiltrates Teleport City‘s limits to contribute to TC’s Space: 1999 series with her piece on aliens and what big jerks they are. “Space: 1999 taught me two valuable lessons. The first is that space is depressing and best represented by the color taupe. The second is that, with few exceptions, aliens are jerks.”

    ~

    The Dartmouth College Library ahs scans of the oldest extant comic book, Rodolphe Töpffer’s
    “The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck” (1837). (via @SoxOnTheBrain)

    ~

    At Graveyard Shift Sisters, Carolyn looks at Lizzie Borden’s Born In Flames (1983) and the character, Adelaide Norris. “Born in Flames was revolutionary for its time, and I think it is still relevant today. This film has many layers, with both a speculative as well as a science fictional representation of a parallel universe that denies oppression. One of the main characters, Adelaide Norris played by Jean Satterfield, came to the forefront for me because of her race and role in the story. Adelaide is one of the key characters who pulls the female troops together. With the help of her mentor Zella, played by civil rights lawyer Flo Kennedy, this young Black and gay woman tirelessly researches, advises, and recruits women to fight the good fight for equality.”

    ~

    A video tribute to interactive VCR games including: Nightmare (1991), The Fisherman VCR Bible Game (1989), Rich Little’s Charades (1985), Wayne’s World VCR Game (1992), Star Trek: The Next Generation VCR Game (1995) and Skull and Crossbones (1988). (Thanks, Beth!)

    ~

    At The Los Angeles Review Of Books, Suzannah Showler writes about the complexity of the reality tv show The Bachelor and her complicated love for it. “I love The Bachelor the way I love most things, which is to say: complicatedly. On the one hand, I think it’s a fascinating cultural product, one I find great delight in close-reading. But I also love it, frankly, because I just like watching it. I think it’s top-notch entertainment, and I will straight up hip-check my politics out of the way, and give up many hours of my life, in the name of being entertained.” (Via @idontlikemunday)

    ~

    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims recounts that time the Punisher battled Dr. Doom. “It starts off with Dr. Doom kicking it in an extradimensional conference room set up by Loki to coordinate mass villainy, where he is just ripping into the Kingpin for being unable to kill the Punisher….Thus, in a sterling example of the ‘well then why don’t you do it’ school of super-villain cameraderie, Dr. Doom, a man who built a time machine in his basement, heads off to try his luck at fighting the Punisher, a man who has a gun. He does this, as you might expect, by luring him to a quarry and — after a brief exchange between a Doombot and a minigun — attempting to blow up his van with a tank.”

    ~

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