The Cultural Gutter

going through pop culture's trash since 2003

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

RIP, James Shigeta

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Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed […]

RIP, Bobby Womack

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Singer, songwriter and composer Bobby Womack has died. The stand-alone importance of his music aside, Womack’s songs were used in innumerable film soundtracks and Womack composed the soundtrack for Across 110th Street (1972). The Los Angeles Times, Time and The Telegraph have obituaries. At Ebony, Gary Harris remembers Womack. The New Yorker considers “The Unimpeachable […]

Interview with Kellee Terrell

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Graveyard Shift Sisters talks with writer/director Kellee Terrell about representation and Black women in horror film . “A story about love, loss, regret and sacrifice could be told in any medium with any kind of backdrop. But I was never really interested in telling Aimee and Cynthia’s story if zombies weren’t part of it. Because […]

RIP, Ruby Dee

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Actor and activist Ruby Dee has died. Dee appeared in many roles in film, television and on stage. She appeared in St. Louis Blues (1958),  A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Guiding Light (1967), Peyton Place (1968-9), Buck and the Preacher (1972), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991),  American Gangster (2007). Josie Pickens […]

“America, Be Seated!”

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The Smithsonian Magazine‘s Vicky Gan looks at “The Story Behind the Failed Minstrel Show at the 1964 World’s Fair.” “Remarkably, the musical received support from the NAACP. The organization, understandably turned off by the minstrel show label, was critical of the production at first, but after seeing a Boston preview NAACP officials reversed their stance, […]

“You Don’t Have To Be Eurocentric To Make It To The Future”

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“’You don’t have to be Eurocentric to make it to the future,’ said Andrea Hairston, a professor of theater and Afro-American studies at Smith College in Massachusetts, whose side gig happens to be writing award-winning science fiction. ‘We have to figure out how to be different together. [And t]hat is what storytelling is all about, […]

“Tiger Lily doesn’t equal Human Torch”

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“And bottom line, if you feel so disenfranchised by one role out of TONS of roles being changed up ethnically, if you are saying you can’t possibly relate to a character who is another race from you, well, I think that’s more a problem of your own than anything else. But don’t worry, the stastics […]

“It’s Black History Month & Women In Horror Month: Our Future”

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Graveyard Shift Sisters writes about the merging of Black History Month & Women In Horror Month: “The marriage of our stories and horror in 2014 is uncharted and drowning in possibilities. We can’t negate the magnitude of visual representation. Mirroring my first point, what we say and affirm about the multiplicitous life of Black women […]

Becoming a Cipher to Oneself

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At Jim C. Hines’ blog, writer Micha Trota writes about what it means when she says, “I don’t see race.” “It means that because I learned to see no difference between ‘white’ and ‘color,’ I have white-washed my own sense of self. It means that I know more about what it is to be a […]

“An Alternate History of Flappy Bird”

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At Radiator Design Blog, Robert Yang writes about the indie game Flappy Bird and the harassment of its designer, Dong Ngyuen. “I suspect that if Nguyen were a white American, this would’ve been the story of a scrappy indie who managed to best Zynga with his loving homage to Nintendo’s apparent patent on green pixel […]

Nettrice Gaskins Explores AfroFuturism In Virtual Worlds

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At IAfroFuturism, Ytasha interviews Nettrice Gaskins about AfroFuturism, art, math, science and virtual worlds. “I had to figure out how to immerse those who weren’t familiar with Afrofuturism using the virtual space. I wanted the avatars in the space to have an experience. I put up a gallery that allowed you to manipulate objects. I […]

Forty-One Black Women In Horror Writing

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Sumiko Saulson shares a list of twenty Black women in horror writing. “February is Black History Month here in the United States. It is also Women in Horror Month (WiHM). As an Ambassador for WiHM, and as a woman of color (I am Black and Jewish) who is a horror writer, I am poignantly aware […]

A Treasury of African-American Films Made For African-American Audiences

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The Riverbends Genealogical and Historical Society has a collection of “race movies”: “The ‘race movie’ or ‘race film’ was a film genre which existed in the United States between about 1915 and 1950. It consisted of films produced for an all-black audience, featuring black casts. In all, approximately five hundred race films were produced. Of […]

RIP, Hal Sutherland

Animator, director, Filmation co-founder and painter Hal Sutherland has died. Sutherland is probably best known for Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Archies and Star Trek animated series. Sutherland  Indiewire has an obituary.  StarTrek.com remembers Sutherland. StarTrek.com has a two-part interview with Sutherland here.

“‘Diversity Lounge? PAX has a lot of work to do”

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Leigh Alexander writes about the gaming community, PAX’s proposed “Diversity Lounge” and providing safe, inclusive spaces: “But the ‘Diversity Hub and Lounge’ is vaguely insulting as a concept: What marginalized people want from games events is not necessarily to have special zones just for them, but to feel welcome, wanted and safe at the entire […]

“The Aesthetic Politics of Filming Black Skin”

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Ann Hornaday discusses “The Aesthetic Politics of Filming Black Skin”: “For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards […]

Demanding Better Representation

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At XOJane, Chaka Cumberbath demands better representation for Black girl nerds in geek culture: “We can be spunky. We can be vivacious. We can be complicated and beautiful and emotional and flawed and we might be all of those things or none of those things at all, but we deserve to be written. We deserve […]

“Why Is Grand Theft Auto So Conservative?”

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This Cage Is Worms has some thoughts on Grand Theft Auto V, and Grand Theft Auto in general: “By making fun of ‘everything,’ GTAV is trying to convince us that it is above any real commitment to an ideology.” (via @bombsfall)

The March: On Chickens, Humanity and Moral Authority

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Other more serious writers have written about Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell‘s The March, Vol 1. (Top Shelf, 2013) . They’ve written about the audacious presentation of solemn historical material in a graphic novel; John Lewis’ contribution to perfecting the Union;  The March‘s importance in relation to American History and the fiftieth […]

“Geek Racism (A Reaction Based on Experience)”

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At The Fool’s Crusade, B. Easton writes, “I used to be the world’s biggest naïve idealist. Captain America without the irony. Superman before 1980. Yea, that was me. I used to believe that anyone into comics, sci-fi, animation, video games etc., would be automatically ‘better’ than the layperson. I figured that anyone with the mental […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Korean Film Archive has been uploading classics of Korean cinema to their YouTube channel, Korean Classic Film Theater. Modern Korean Cinema reports on the latest 15 films uploaded.

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    A gallery of Mike Allred’s covers for twenty of DC’s titles. (via @profmdwhite)

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    Actor Lauren Bacall has died. Bacall is most famous for work with her first husband Humphrey Bogart, To Have And Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946) and Key Largo (1948), but she also starred in Douglas Sirk’s classic melodrama Written On The Wind (1956), co-starred with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How To Marry A Millionaire (1953), The Fan (1981), she appeared in Misery (1990) and voiced the Witch of the Waste in the English language dub of Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and the Gray One in the English language version of Ernest and Celestine (2014). The Guardian and The Los Angeles Times, have obituaries. The Hollywood Reporter collects responses and remembrancesJulianne Escobedo Shepherd writes that “What I love about her is the intelligence and pluckiness that defined her acting and her life. That is what we should be most remembering — her talent, her strength, her fierce essence—the elements that made her an icon of the silver screen.” Here is Bacall’s 1994 interview with Charlie Rose.

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    Simon Fowler shares “The Five Best North Korean Films” at The Guardian. Did Pulgasari make the cut? Is the list Pulgasari five times? Click through to find out. (Thanks, Earl!)

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    Actor and comedian Robin Williams has died. There are many obituaries and remembrances out there, so we’re just choosing a few.  The AV Club, RogerEbert.com and Boing Boing have obituaries. The writers of RogerEbert.com offer tributes. Terry Gilliam talks about directing Williams in The Fisher King. Penny Marshall talks about working with Williams on Laverne & Shirley and directing him in Awakenings.  Marc Maron reposts his interview with Williams on Maron’s WTF Podcast. And here are a few of his less mentioned, darker films: Death To Smoochy (2002);  One Hour Photo (2002); Insomnia (2002); The Secret Agent (1996) and World’s Greatest Dad (2009).

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    Cleopatra’s Weave draws some amazing Elves of color (and David J. Prokopetz shares a story trying to get more racial representation in a fantasy illustration project).

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