The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

"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

    At The Brattle Film Notes, Kerry Fristoe writes about The Road Warrior and Lord Byron’s poem, “Darkness,” in The Road Warrior or Mad Max and Lord Byron Walk into a Bar…”


    There’s a free audio book adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ Locke & Key at


    At Actionland, Heroic Sister Achillesgirl writes about subtitling the 1964 wuxia film, Buddha Palm. And she provides you with the subtitles and a link to the film!


    At Bleeding Cool, Cap Blackard writes about the contested homeworld of Howard the Duck. “If you’ve seen the much maligned Howard the Duck film or read any Howard the Duck stories published since 1979, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Duckworld. You know, an alternate Earth where everyone is ducks and everything is duck-themed: Ducktor Strange, Bloomingducks, etc, etc. Sounds like a recipe for a finite barrel of bad jokes, right? It is, and it’s also not Howard’s real point of origin. During his landmark initial run, Howard’s creator Steve Gerber had the down-and-out duck hailing from a world of talking animals, but all that changed when Gerber was kicked off the book and Disney flashed a lawsuit. Now, after decades of backstory fumbling, Mark Waid has reinstated Howard’s point of origin in a one-shot issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Thanks, Mark!)


    At The Village Voice, Jackson Connor writes about the making of The Warriors. Amid the refurbished boardwalk and laughter of children, it’s easy to forget that Coney Island was once a place where tourists did not venture. For much of the latter half of the twentieth century, street gangs dominated this neighborhood. They ran rampant through the area’s neglected housing projects, tearing along Surf and Neptune avenues toward West 8th Street. Those gangs, or gangs like them, and that incarnation of Coney Island would form the backbone of author Sol Yurick’s 1965 debut novel, The Warriors, about the young members of a street gang. More than a decade after the novel’s publication it would be optioned and, eventually, turned into a major motion picture of the same name.” (via @pulpcurry)


    Edith Garrud taught Suffragettes jiu-jitsu and formed Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard. “The first connection between the suffragettes and jiu-jitsu was made at a WSPU meeting. Garrud and her husband William, who ran a martial arts school in London’s Golden Square together, had been booked to attend. But William was ill, so she went alone. ‘Edith normally did the demonstrating, while William did the speaking,’ says Tony Wolf, writer of Suffrajitsu, a trilogy of graphic novels about this aspect of the suffragette movement. ‘But the story goes that the WSPU’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, encouraged Edith to do the talking for once, which she did.'”


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