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

Forget the consequences, just get me
a sandwich

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Over the past several months I’ve been working my way through all of Pendleton Ward‘s Adventure Time, in part because it comes in 11 minute segments that are easy to squeeze into tiny cracks of spare time, but mostly because it’s awesome. There are lots of things to love about it – the humor, the weirdness, the […]

Strong Female Character

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A little while ago, a friend told me that I was a “strong woman.” It was a compliment and I took it as one. Part of me knows what he means, that I keep trying, that I pick myself up as best I can after things go to hell, that I try to keep moving. […]

The Empire of Crime: Mabuse vs. Wertham vs. Marston

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When humanity, subjugated by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.” –The Testament of Dr. Mabuse “[W]hatever factors come into play in the cases that we have studied, the conclusion is inescapable […]

Maurice Sendak and the Strange Wild Things of My Childhood

“The magic of childhood is the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don’t see.” “I’m just clearing the decks for a simple death. You’re done with your work. You’re done with your life. And your life was your work.” –Maurice Sendak, TateShots: Maurice Sendak and Tell Them Anything […]

RIP, Maurice Sendak

Illustrator and author Maurice Sendak has died.  There are obituaries in The New York Times, The Guardian. The Onion has an obituary as well as reader responses that Sendak would likely appreciate. NPR’s Fresh Air devotes an entire program to Terry Gross’ interviews with Sendak, reflecting their unique relationship. Check through our archives for some […]

On the value of frightening small children

I remember seeing Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in the theatre, and I think it holds the record, in my experience, for the fastest time in making a small child cry. I have no idea what movie the child’s parents thought they were taking her to, but I don’t blame her for deciding immediately that she […]

Interview with Maurice Sendak

Listen to Fresh Air‘s interview with Maurice Sendak about his secret stash of work, death, this time that is for him and him alone and his favorite lines in his new book, Bumble-ardy

Just In Time

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“and somehow / giving to all her questions just one answer: / In you, who were a child once—in you.” –”Die Erwachsene / The Grown Up,” Rainer Maria Rilke trans. by Stephen Mitchell. Please don’t let Rilke scare you off. Jim McCann and Janet Lee’s Return of the Dapper Men (Archaia, 2010) is a thoroughly […]

Betty Draper Is Not Going To Be Saved

Tiger Beatdown has a poignant post about Betty Draper in Mad Men: “We wanted Betty to read The Feminine Mystique and get her mind blown and rise above; or, we wanted her to stay a victim, so we could relate to her better, or at least keep feeling sorry for her. But sometimes, people just […]

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 […]

What Does the Protagonist Want?

What do the Venture Bros. want? Todd Alcott asks and has some interesting answers.

LEGO Harry Potter Trailer

Gamers and Harry Potter fans rejoice! It’s the LEGO Harry Potter trailer! (thanks, Dan!)

MAURICE SENDAK! I’M WITH YOU IN ROCKLAND

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Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is not, thank god, a film about growing up.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tom Burtonwood has created Folium, a book of three-dimensional printing of bas relief, for the Art Institute of Chicago from its collection. (Via Boing Boing)

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    We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

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    Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet.

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    At We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega interviews friend of the Gutter Mark D. White about the virtues of Captain America. “In this, the ninth episode, of the second season of WARN’s podcast series, we talk about what comic books and superheroes can tell us about philosophy and politics, work through what makes someone ‘heroic,’ the ways that the general public often misunderstands and misreads the Captain America character, as well as how American exceptionalism, race, and identity relate to superhero and other types of comic books and graphic novels.”

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    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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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 yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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