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

“A History of Race in Science Fiction Films”

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Graveyard Shift Sisters reviews Adilifu Nama’s Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film and looks at the history of race in science fiction films from teh 1950s to the present. “Adilifu Nama concocted a thorough read that blends a critical look at science fiction cinema’s milestone works in conjunction with American sociopolitical history, specifically […]

“Space Is The Place: AfroFuturism On Film”

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At Hyperallergic, Jeremy Polacek writes about the history of Afrofuturism and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s exhibit, “Space Is The Place: AfroFuturism On Film”:  “Afrofuturism is an empowering rubric, an approach and aesthetic that clarifies and connects history and the hope, creativity, and pain there within. Afrofuturism is wry, wise, and leveling — it believes that a brighter, more […]

Absolute Beginners ’86

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When Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners was released in 1986 it was met with general indifference and some critical dismissals. While the film may have some problems, today its reputation seems to be clouded by the misconception that it single-handedly ruined the prestigious British film studio Goldcrest and was universally panned. Neither of these assumptions is […]

“Humanity Not Included: DC’s Cyborg and the Mechanization of the Black Body”

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At The Middle Spaces, Robert Jones, Jr. writes about Cyborg: “DC Comics’ Cyborg is my least favorite black character currently being published in comic books. He illustrates how the black body functions in a white supremacist framework and embodies so many different offensive stereotypes of black people that it is necessary to enumerate these characteristics […]

“Lighten Up”

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At The Nib, Ronald Wimberley tells a story and elucidates the implications of being asked to lighten a character’s skin tone for a Wolverine And the X-Men jam comic.

Nate Powell Talks about The March, Depicting Violence and “I Have A Dream’

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Alex Deuben interviews artist Nate Powell about the second volume of The March and working with Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. “We are taught — and we tend to perpetuate this myth — that the Civil Rights Movement was nine words long: ‘Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream.’ I think what […]

“The Pull List: Black History Month”

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At Tor.com, Alex Brown shares her top ten favorite Black comic book characters. “For all their talk about diversity and inclusion, comic books still tend to be pretty straight, white, and male (and catered to same). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of great characters of color that do more than fill the […]

Anything Can Happen In Riverdale

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I never expected to be reading Archie comics. Archie Andrews’ irresistible appeal to ladies mystified me and I came late to an appreciation for soap operas and straight melodrama. Then there was residual stuff around romance, a punk rock hostility towards the wholesome squares, a dash of internalized sexism mixed with gender dysphoria and a […]

“A Sci-Fi Joan of Arc”

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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 […]

“We Will Force Gaming To Be Free”

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At First Person Scholar, Katherine Cross writes about “GamerGate and the licence to inflict suffering”: “GamerGate is neoliberalism’s distorted reflection of leftist terror: the lust for revolution, to be the Rough Rider ‘good guys’ saving the world by force if necessary, but with none of the obligations or thought inherent to political reasoning.”

10 Comics I Liked In 2014

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I’m sure we’re all glad to see 2014 go. I know I am. But you know, comics are always here for you, and so is the Gutter. I thought I’d do something a little different with the list this year. Last year, I was invited to do a “Best Comics of 2013” list at Popshifter […]

“The Pain of the Watermelon Joke”

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Author Jacqueline Woodson writes about her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, growing up in South Carolina and Daniel Handler’s watermelon joke directed at her at the National Book Awards. “I would have written Brown Girl Dreaming if no one had ever wanted to buy it, if it went nowhere but inside a desk drawer that my […]

“We Need Diverse Books”

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The Washington Post has a transcript of American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints creator Gene Luen Yang’s speech at the 2014 National Book Festival Gala.  “We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say. This fear can be a good […]

Advice On Writing People Different From You

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At Midnight Breakfast, Mari Naomi shares a question from a white friend “Aside from doing research in order to make a believable character, in addition to leaving one’s personal (and media-learned) biases at the door, I don’t know the right answer to my friend’s question. How can she infuse [People of Color] into her story […]

“Cosplaying While Black: The Homicide of Darrien Hunt”

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At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not […]

“Blaxploitation Horror Films: Backlash and Concerns”

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At Graveyardshift Sisters, Ashlee Blackwell writes about the complexity of Blaxploitation horror. “What is visceral, real to the fears of the oppressed, ignored, and patronized are often symbols of empowerment, showing true courage in the face of what’s on the screen and everyday circumstances to see a character figure who takes on the world. Whether […]

Apocalypse Games

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Three articles on the end of “gamer” as an identity, on the end of gatekeeping and the end of gaming culture: Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra; Dr. Nerdlove; and Dan Golding. “And the sad thing is: nobody’s trying to destroy games.“

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 […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At the New Republic, B. D. McClay writes about Shirley Jackson and a new collection containing previously unpublished stories and essays by Jackson. “Let Me Tell You, on the other hand, is for the already-converted fan, who will be delighted to read so many new stories and essays. The greatest attraction is the 15 essays, which touch on subjects as diverse as the travails of being married to a book critic (‘book reviewing is just nothing for a healthy young girl to be married to’), Samuel Richardson (‘no small action is consummated in less than ten pages’), poltergeist-bearing postcards (‘I think it is simply too much for any one house to have poltergeists and children’), and clowns.”

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    At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Carol writes about 12 books that vary in reputability and their harrowing nature. They include books by Shirley Jackson, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Herman Melville.

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    Anne Billson has posted a 1985 interview she did with director George Miller (the Mad Max films). Miller talks about many things including Aunty Entity’s probable past as a hero and Max as, in Mel Gibson’s words, “a closet human being.” (Thanks, Matt!)

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    At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic die-offs before, as recently as the previous winter in California and in regular bouts with a deadly bug called the varroa mite since the 1980s. But those die-offs would at least produce bodies pathologists could study. Here, the bees had just disappeared. In the U.K., they called it Mary Celeste syndrome, after the merchant ship discovered off the Azores in 1872 with not a single passenger aboard. The bees hadn’t even scrawled CROATOAN in honey on the door on their way out of the hive.”

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    Andrew Nette has a pair of interesting pieces on pulp you might be interested in. First, he writes about “the New Pulp” and a bit about Fifty Shades of Gray in “Fifty Shades of Pulp.” Then he writes about pulp and literacy and furthering social advancement in “Pulp and Circumstance.”  “Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.”

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    The Projection Booth interviews actor Ed Asner.

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