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

DANGEROUS BECAUSE IT HAS A PHILOSOPHY

Ian Driscoll
Posted November 20, 2008

videodrome_80.jpgIn Videodrome, shortly before the arrival of the least sexy waiter in the history of cinema (no link for this, you’ll just have to go rent the movie), Max Renn (James Woods, no hyperlink needed) and Masha (Lynne Gorman, IMDb listing not interesting enough to link to) share the following exchange on the nature of the phantom Videodrome signal Renn is tracking:

MASHA

 

Videodrome is something for you to leave alone. Videodrome. What you see on that show, it’s for real. It’s not acting. It’s snuff TV.

MAX RENN

 

I don’t believe it.

MASHA

 

So, don’t believe.

MAX RENN

 

Why do it for real? It’s easier and safer to fake it.

MASHA

Because it has something that you don’t have, Max. It has a philosophy. And that is what makes it dangerous.

 

That, in a nutshell, is how I feel about the Cultural Gutter. It’s dangerous because it has a philosophy.

What are the tenets of that philosophy? I’m pretty sure it’s post-po-mo, and believes we’ve gone beyond any sort of central or authoritative narrative (and contends that’s really the central metaphor of Diary of the Dead). Yet at the same time it abhors aintitcoolnews’ (not linked on principle) onanistic abuse of the exclamation point.

The Gutter would rather watch Turner Classic Movies than AMC, even though it’s kind of creeped out by Ted Turner, because it believes movies are meant to be seen in their proper aspect ratio, and from beginning to end without commercial interruption. (It admires David Lynch for his stand on this, among other things.)

The Gutter went to shoot-along screenings of The Killer back in the 90s, and got that out of its system. Now, it makes an ominous half-turn to stare down people who talk during movies. It gets up and exits the cinema to complain if the film goes out of focus, or if the sound is bad. Insofar as this goes, the Gutter may be bit of a cranky old man. It definitely likes wearing cardigans, though part of this is in homage to Bob Newhart.

It’s still kind of angry about the replacement of unionized projectionists with pimply-faced candy-bar staff. It believes the projectionist is the last member of the film crew, and the one with the most power.

It believes that even though the seventh art is a latecomer, it’s still an art form.

And yeah, it kind of always wanted to French kiss a television.

videodrome_250.jpg

So, why put yourself out there? Why write several hundred words a month? Why imagine your opinion matters to anyone, or that you have anything of value to contribute? Why do it for real, when it’s easier and safer to fake it? Maybe simply because stuff can’t be uncommunicated, and because a bullet in the right place can change the world, but it’s no substitute for a good meme.

Or maybe because the battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the Gutter. The Gutter is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the Gutter is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the Gutter emerges as raw experience for those who read it. Therefore, the Gutter is reality, and reality is less than the Gutter.

You could think on that. Or you could ignore this article entirely and watch the version of Videodrome Brian O’Blivion would watch–all the good bits–in eight minutes and 29 seconds. (Courtesy of The Cut Up).

Either way, keep tuning in to The Cultural Gutter–the one you take to bed with you.

Command+s.

Ian Driscoll is sure you’ll forgive him if he doesn’t stay around to watch. He just can’t cope with the freaky stuff.

Comments

3 Responses to “DANGEROUS BECAUSE IT HAS A PHILOSOPHY”

  1. Carol Borden
    December 5th, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

    i ended up watching capricorn one on TCM the other day, in its correct aspect ratio and in its entirety. it’s like an inversion of videodrome–making the fake seem real. and everyone’s dangerous because they end up with a philosophy–or lose one by the end.
    so i guess i’m wondering if the gutter’s up there in a biplane with elliot gould and telly savalas, pulling culture everyone believes is dead onto its wings and then barnstorming for all it’s worth.
    i hope so.

  2. James Schellenberg
    December 8th, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

    I still remember going to see a Mamet play years ago, and after shushing some rowdy teenagers, I overheard them say, “I think the old guy is mad at us!” I was, like, 27! Maybe I should have stuck to the “ominous half-turn” rather than saying anything out loud :)

  3. Andrew Lapointe
    December 15th, 2008 @ 1:34 am

    So are you saying that the Gutter is The New Flesh? If so, long live it!

Leave a Reply





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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Gentleman’s Gazette has a piece on the sartorial splendor of Hercule Poirot and of Captain Hastings in the BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries.

    ~

    At Pitchfork, Barry Walters writes about Grace Jones. “One night in 1993, I finally got my chance to see Jones perform at a local gay nightclub and took my friend Brian, whose partner Mark was too sick to join us….She didn’t back away from the elephant in the room: She dedicated one song to artist and AIDS casualty Keith Haring, who had used her body for a canvas on the occasion of her legendary 1985 Paradise Garage performance. That night’s show was remarkable for the simple fact that Jones just kept on going, granting one encore request after another, waiting patiently while the sound man scoured backing tapes to find the fans’ offbeat choices. When Jones got to such minor numbers as ‘Crush,’ it became clear that she didn’t want to leave. She was giving as much of herself as she could to the beleaguered troops, knowing full well that many wouldn’t live long enough to see her again.”

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    Remezcla has a gallery of Lourdes Grobet’s portraits of luchadores with their families and a bit of an interview with her. (Yes, the luchadores are in their masks and often wearing suits or casual wear, which is the best thing). (Thanks, Matt!) “Father and warrior, the masked wrestler is the perfect metaphor for the duality that Grobet’s photography wants to depict. Her work is resonant because she doesn’t try to demolish the myths that envelop lucha libre – she simply nurtures and expands them in an offbeat way.”

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