The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

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

Apologizing for “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

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At Salon, Nathan Rabin apologizes for coining the phrase, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” “I remember thinking, even back then, that a whole list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls might be stretching the conceit too far. The archetype of the free-spirited life-lover who cheers up a male sad-sack had existed in the culture for ages. But […]

Learning from DashCon

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At On The Media, Alex Goldman tries to learn something from DashCon’s many, many problems: “So here I am trying to glean a point from something that just sounds like a disaster from to bottom. What is there to learn from this? Well, it speaks a bit to the nature of interaction on the web and […]

On Being a Colossal Prick on the Internet

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“For quite some time I thought that being a colossal prick on the Internet was great sport. I thought that everybody else was doing it, and that I could do it better than most. I also had some idea that it was my duty to call bullshit on everyone who I thought was propagating bullshit. […]

Female Friendship and the Slenderman Stabbing

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“[The Slenderman Stabbing] appears to echo patterns of behavior—belief in culturally-supported fantasies, tightly-cathected bonds between young women, an intensity of connection that has occasionally led to violence—that have occurred repeatedly, in various forms, throughout history and around the world. And they happen outside the heterosexual framework we use to understand [Elliot] Rodgers’ misogynistic rampage. This crime is […]

Thoughts on Trolls

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At PBS Idea Channel, Mike considers and then reconsiders the beneficial effects of trolls. At Kill Screen, Matthew Byrd writes about the integration of trolling into a multiplayer online gaming experience, particularly with DayZ and Demon’s Soul. (Thanks, Edie!)

“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, […]

RIP, Television Without Pity

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NBC-Universal is closing down Television Without Pity and the archives of episode recaps from the 1990s on will no longer be available. At The Vulture, Margaret Lyons writes, “How Television Without Pity Shaped Pop Culture.” Caitlin Kelly writes about being “Raised on Television Without Pity” at The New Yorker. At USA Today, Jayme Deerwester writes […]

Fan Theorizing and True Detective

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“Fan-crafted theorizing is fun enough – it’s a solid way to keep up audience engagement over a show’s run and even inject excitement into series that might be flailing on its own (see: that horrifying “dead mother” theory that’s been circulating amongst How I Met Your Mother fans, which is either entirely insane or decidedly […]

“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 […]

More News About Detroit’s Robocop Statue

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Metro Times has a nice report on Detroit’s Robocop statue.

“The Nominative Case”

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Judge John Hodgman decides a case of towering nerdiness: “Jordan, a lifelong comic book fan, and his friend Charles were discussing the DC comics villain Mr. Mxyzptlk and made a wager: if Jordan’s friends could trick him into saying his own name backwards, he’d owe them five dollars.”

“Creepypasta and the Contours of Modern Fear”

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At Aeon Magazine, Will Wiles considers creepypasta, an anonymous group effort to create dark urban legend,  “Indeed, this might be what creepypasta aspires to be: urban legend, dark social memes with just enough familiarity to give a frisson of awful possibility. Much of it is spread with little authorial ego. But it is also self-consciously […]

Fanzines and Doctor Who‘s Regeneration

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At The Atlantic, Nolan Feeny writes a piece on the impact of zines, fan writers (including Steven Moffat, Paul Cornell and the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi) and fandom on Doctor Who. “If you had an opinion and wrote well, you aspired to write for the best zines, and once the gates were open to be […]

“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 […]

“‘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 […]

“How To Discourage Women From Cartooning”

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An anonymous cartoonist shares a creepy letter at The Comics Journal: “I have photographic evidence for this one, but I don’t have any proof of the other sleazy ‘real life’ encounters I have had in my career. Every woman I know has had them. They add up, and combined together they go far beyond frustration.”

One Million Images

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“The British Library has uploaded one million public domain scans from 17th-19th century books to Flickr!” (Thanks, Kate!)

“The Truth About Krampus”

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At Atlas Obscura, Al Ridenour writes about the Krampus, Krampusse, Perchten and LA’s upcoming Krampusfest.

“Sexual Harassment In Comics: The Tipping Point”

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Laura Hudson returns to Comics Alliance to write about sexual harassment in the comics community: “It’s important to note that the vast majority of men in comics–pro and fan–aren’t predatory. The problem is that the small number who are predatory get insulated from the consequences of their actions by the passive behavior of other men […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.”

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    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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