The Cultural Gutter

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"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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

“On the Notion of Guilty Pleasures”

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“As much as you think ‘We Built This City (On Rock And Roll)’ or Spandau Ballet might be bad, you don’t even know bad, buddy.’” Jon Hunt writes about guilty pleasures, critical faculties,  good and bad music, but his thoughts can easily be applied to other mediums. (via @popshifter)

RIP, Stuart Hall

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Sociologist and Cultural Theorist Stuart Hall has died.  The Guardian and Art Review have obituaries.  At Flavorwire, Brie Hiramina writes, “Why Stuart Hall’s Groundbreaking Work On Culture And Identity Still Matters.”  There is an interview with Hall at Radical Philosophy.  You can watch a documentary about Stuart Hall, The Stuart Hall Project, here.

On The State of TV Criticism

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Indiewire talks to TV Club‘s Todd VanDerWerff about television criticism: “The way we’ve been selling ‘review’ versus ‘recap’ is ‘Should I watch this?’ versus ‘What did I just watch?’ The move toward episodic criticism has been a good thing for TV criticism on the whole, I think, but it’s started to run roughshod over the […]

“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)

Bad Fans and a Mind-Bending Phone Call

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Emily Nussbaum writes about the complexity of one phone call in Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” episode.

Two Thoughtful Pieces on Breaking Bad

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At The AV Club, Stephen Bowie makes,  “The Case Against Breaking Bad,” while at The New York Times, A.O. Scott examines how <i>Breaking Bad</i>’s Walter White “found his inner sociopath.” and the beloved antiheroes of television’s current Golden Age.

“A Day Inside Comic-Con’s Hall H: Worshipping in the Ultimate Movie Church”

Todd VanDerWerff spends a day in San Diego Comic Con’s Hall H and has some interesting observations about the film industry, fan culture, sexism and “Worshipping in the Ultimate Movie Church.”

Kirk and Spock, Tristan and Iseult

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At Teach Me Tonight, Kate Laity writes about Joanna Russ’ 1985 essay, “Pornography by Women for Women With Love”:  “While the entire collection makes fascinating reading, I want to focus on the chapter “Pornography By Women For Women, With Love” as it provides some interesting roots for the ongoing academic dissections of romance writing today […]

Lau Kar-Leung Remembered

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The Ferroni Brigade considers how Lau Kar-Leung brought comedy to kung fu as well as scrutinized the kung fu film tradition that had come before him.  David Bordwell writes about Lau and how sometimes stylized action captures the real better than “realism.”

Adventure Time on NPR

NPR’s Monkey See blog shares a look at Adventure Time. “Adventure Time insists on emotional honesty.” (via @profmdwhite)

Jean-Luc Godard & Jean-Claude Van Damme

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At Vern Reviews The Films Of Cinema, Outlaw Vern offers “one Seagalologist’s perspective on the ‘vulgar auteurism’ debate”: “The practitioners are trying to bring recognition to artists who they think are marginalized, but they’re accidentally creating a ranking of ‘vulgar auteur’ beneath ‘actual auteur.’ And that also shines a spotlight on the idea’s most glaring […]

A 1998 Critique of the Game Industry Still Relevant Today

“In a column just as true today as it was at the time of its writing, this reprint from the February 1998 issue of Game Developer magazine by game designer J.C. Herz blasts the industry conservatism and the retreading of familiar ideas.” Read it at Gamasutra.

Comics Alliance: The Return

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Hey, everybody, Comics Alliance is back! (via @World_Of_Hurt)

Greil Marcus SVA Commencement Speech

At the School of Visual Art, Greil Marcus delivers a commencement speech discussing “high art” vs. “low art,” art, and influence. (Thanks, Andrew!)

“¡Viva, Comics Alliance!”

At The Comics Journal, Joe McCulloch speaks to the legacy of Comics Alliance. The Beat‘s Steve Morris writes about what Comics Alliance meant to him. ” If Comics Alliance was known for anything – aside from the much-needed essays on prejudice and progression, aside from discussion of Batman punching people with car parts, aside from […]

“Keycard to Room 237″

Jim Emerson collects and breaks down the criticisms of Room 237, a documentary of people who obsess over Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. And Drew Morton created a visual essay in response to the film.

Id Critics and Conspiracy Theories

“Room 237 is like an act of revenge from a filmmaker upon the critics,” writes Robert Greene in his review. And The Verge’s Adi Robinson interviews Room 237 director Rodney Ascher on The Shining, interpretation and conspiracy theories. “[Room 237 is] about what happens when the movie leaves the filmmaker’s hands, and the audience is […]

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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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