The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

“Revealing the Secrets of the Modern Movie Poster”

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Former graphic designer for Intralink Film Graphic Design and current Google graphic designer Alex Griendling talks about designing film posters and campaigns at The Art House.

Pirates On One Hand, Privateers On The Other

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Director Lexi Alexander writes about movies and piracy and wonders if studios are more damaging. “I would argue that releasing crappy movies has a far greater effect on the film industry bottom line than piracy ever could. Similar things happen when a hyped TV show bombs or an anticipated game is a letdown. Companies don’t […]

RIP, Massimo Vignelli

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Designer Massimo Vignelli has died. Fast Company Design, The Smithsonian Magazine and The New York Times have obituaries. The Verge shares a gallery of his work from the New York subway system map to Bloomingdale’s bags to American Airlines’ logo. Here Vignelli talks about design and his career.

“The LEGO Movie: Further Evidence of Will Ferrell’s Subversive Genius”

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“To be fair, I have no idea whether [Will Ferrell] had input into the script of The Lego Movie or not. But the mere fact that he was cast as the movie’s villain should have been a giveaway as to its ideology. For more than a decade now, Ferrell’s starred in big, dumb films of surprising political […]

Operation Scraping Netflix’s Data

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“This database probing told me three things: 1) Netflix had an absurdly large number of genres, an order of magnitude or two more than I had thought, 2) it was organized in a way that I didn’t understand, and 3) there was no way I could go through all those genres by hand. But I […]

“Why Marketers Fear Female Geeks”

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At How Not To Suck At Game Design, Anjin writes about marketing, cycles of exclusion and what to do about it: “Yes, excluding people based on demographic data makes sense to a lot of people in marketing. It’s considered a best practice and it actually is a pretty reliable way of increasing profit margins. And […]

“Love In The Time Of Hollering: The Age Of Enthusiasm”

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At NPR’s Monkeysee blog, Linda Holmes writes about enthusiasm, the outloud internet, broadcast television, premium cable, the Man and many things worth thinking about. “[T]here is a better way forward. Fall in love with things. Try things; dislike some of them. Love people who love things you can’t imagine loving. Be thirsty and brave. Accept […]

Blurbery

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Ursula Le Guin talks about blurbs: “The trouble is, these days, that any moderately successful author who ever blurbed a book is at this very moment being approached by other authors and probably some editors — and not two or three of them a month, the way it was ten years ago, but many, many, […]

Pop Culture Propaganda

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Peter Gutiérrez looks at the pop culture propaganda of Ender’s Game, Pacific Rim and G.I. Joe marketing campaigns. “The interesting, if obvious, thing about these marketing posters is that they seem to rely on the viewer’s familiarity with propaganda. Does that mean that the audience for blockbuster movies these days is sufficiently “media literate” that […]

“The Science of Black Nerds”

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Blerdology’s Kat and Amanda talk to Vibe about “The Science of Black Nerds.” “African Americans present a unique set of perspectives and problems that the larger tech world could never completely and accurately tackle without us. Now, we hack to ask how can we get more African Americans to realize the power and influence they […]

Paul Jenkins talks about DC, Marvel, and Boom!

Paul Jenkins explains why he’s leaving DC and Marvel in an open letter at CBR. Bleeding Cool interviews Jenkins about what’s wrong at DC and Marvel and what’s right at Boom! Studios. (Thanks, Mark!)

Karen Berger and Vertigo

The New York Times profiles Karen Berger, former editor of DC’s Vertigo comics imprint. “When the Vertigo imprint was introduced in 1993, it was a way for writers and illustrators to retain ownership of their work and be free of the restraints that governed superhero stories.”

Manos: The Hands of Felt

Support Manos The Hands of Felt–The Master will be pleased.

“The Bullying of Chatelaine Harris and the Wisdom of Neil Gaiman”

“So Charlaine Harris’ last Southern Vampires book, Dead Ever After, is out May 7.  Except it’s kind of out now, which is why the interwebs are exploding.  Some random asshat got their claws on an early copy, which is sneaky enough, but then posted the ending online, which is borderline sociopathic.” Mary Janice Davidson has […]

The Algorithm of Success

The New York Times has a piece on the statistical quest for a sure thing box office hit. Meanwhile, The AV Club pans Netflix’s original series, very much grounded in algorithms, Hemlock Grove: “The genius of Netflix’s computer-programmed, demographic targeting approach to TV is that it doesn’t need to create amazing, or challenging, or even […]

Protesting CISPA

ZDNet’s Violet Blue offers ways you can join the Apr. 22 protest against The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. At The Atlantic, Rebecca Greenfield notes that CISPA has “few friends in the Senate” but has the support of “major tech companies”: “Unlike SOPA which was widely condemned in the tech community,  CISPA has the […]

A Brut Production

Movie Morlocks ‘ R. Emmet Sweeney explores the filmmaking history of Fabergé fragrance CEO, George Barrie: “Barrie produced his films under a ‘Brut Productions’ shingle, while Brut Records put out albums by comedian Robert Klein and Brut Television co-produced the popular spy thriller series The Protectors starring Robert Vaughn. There was even a Brut Publishing […]

The Making of The Bad Sleep Well

A documentary on the making of Akira Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well.

“The DC New 52 Timeline of Departures, Firings, and Bridge-Burnings”

Gutters and Panels has a convenient timeline of notable departures, firings and bridge-burnings at DC Entertainment since 2010.

“Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey”

NPR’s Scott Tobias writes of Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey: “The disparity between Journey’s mercenary nature and Pineda’s inspiring triumph over adversity comes through starkly in Everyman’s Journey.” (via @TrashFilmGuru)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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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 by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

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