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

Motion in Akira Kurosawa’s Films


Every Frame A Painting returns to analysis of Akira Kurosawa’s work.

“Keanu Reeves, I’m Sorry I Doubted You”


At Multiglom, film critic Anne Bilson apologizes to Keanu Reeves: “Keanu Reeves, I must apologise. For years, like other film critics, I cast aspersions on your acting talent, belittled your intellect, and cracked jokes about your name, which means ‘cool breeze over the mountains’ in Hawaiian. Only now do I realise I was foolish and […]

Interview With Colin Smith


Comics Bulletin interviews friend of the Gutter Colin Smith about criticism in general and comics criticism in particular. “Despite what so many in the ever-polarising blogosphere appear to believe, criticism isn’t about delivering an opinion that the reader agrees with, or even feels comfortable with. It’s not about standing with this crowd or that, but […]

“He’s the guitar string that resonates at the frequency of America”


Danny Bowes writes about Christopher Nolan’s Interstallar, baseball and Matthew McConaughey at Letterboxd: “McConaughey is a great movie star for a number of reasons, but one of which is that the nature of his charisma derives from his singular quantum Zen surfer good old boy state of being. His charisma switch doesn’t just have one […]

“Objective Game Reviews”


Objective Game Reviews is a site that provides objective game reviews. They also have a monthly Subjective Reviewer. If you are looking for super-objective reviews, you might be interested in the “Super-Objective Video Game Review Generator.” They also have a message from the creator of Objective Game Reviews.

“The Roots of Reactionary Rage”


At The Daily Beast, Arthur Chu writes about GamerGate, Disco Demolition and Lilith Fair. “The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event […]

Two Perspectives on Gone Girl


At, Matt Zoller Seitz notes: “What of Gone Girl as a parable of gender relations, one that eventually takes an ugly misogynist turn? I’ve heard these charges leveled, and they have merit. You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve seen the movie. At the same time, though, as we evaluate those complaints, we owe it to […]

Critics and Comics


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 […]

“Video Games, Misogyny and Terrorism”


At Badass Digest, Gaming Editor Andrew Todd writes about “rampant issues with sexism, homophobia, and racism within the gaming industry.”

Games, Horror and Consuming Media Responsibly


Jenn Frank writes about horror, games, “Tropes vs Women In Video Games” and “consuming media responsibly”: “I think what I’m getting at is, especially with the horror genre, it’s less important what a movie says and more important that you, the viewer, understand why you’re enjoying it. I believe in judicious self-awareness; a director like […]

“An End To ‘Snobbery'”


At Writer For Hire, Danny Bowes argues for “An End To ‘Snobbery’”: “The advent of a new Marvel (in this instance standing in for ‘geek’ in the same way ‘Xerox’ does for ‘photocopy’) movie, joyous occasion though it is for many, is a time when the discourse among film critics, journalists, and fans crystallizes into […]

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


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”


“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


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


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?”


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


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

Two Thoughtful Pieces on Breaking Bad


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.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Open Culture has a re-vamped trailer for a film adaptation of  Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ comic The Incal. One that never happened. “[Incal‘s] success made it a logical candidate for film adaptation, and so director Pascal Blais brought together artists from Heavy Metal magazine (in which Mœbius first published some of his best known work) to make it happen. It resulted in nothing more than a trailer, but what a trailer; you can watch a recently revamped edition of the one Blais and his collaborators put together in the 1980s at the top of the post.” (Thanks, Felipe!)


    Hyperallergic has a gallery of astronomical and cosmological illustrations from photographer Michael Benson’s books, Cosmographics: Picturing Space Through Time. (Thanks, Stephanie!)


    A homophobic Tumblr post becomes Queer dystopian adventure fiction in two responses. Behold! (Thanks, Adele!)


    Tony Zhou has a new video up at Every Frame A Painting. This time, he looks at Buster Keaton and, “The Art Of The Gag.”


    At Dirge Magazine, friend of the Gutter Less Lee Moore writes about the cinema of Richard Kern. “My introduction to Richard Kern was an issue of Spin magazine from the mid-1980s. Having recently fallen under the spell of the feral pleasures of Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel – a.k.a. JG Thirlwell – I was intrigued by lurid descriptions of pornographic short films featuring Thirlwell and paramour/collaborator Lydia Lunch, whose snarky sound bites I scrawled in the margins of my diaries.”


    Art Of The Title looks the opening credits for The Man In The High Castle, True Detective and at Momentum, Alex Maragos interviews Andrew Geraci about making the opening credits for House Of Cards.


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