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

“How The Death Of The Mid-Budget Film Left A Generation Of Filmmakers MIA”

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“While we weren’t looking, the mid-budget adult-oriented motion picture has all but disappeared. And the gifted directors behind them are in danger of disappearing as well. Movie wonks and box-office watchers have written and talked about the death of mid-budget filmmaking, but mostly in business terms—as opposed to personal ones, contemplating the phenomenon’s effect on […]

“It’s Time To Retire The Disney Death”

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At The Dissolve, Tasha Robinson writes about the use and overuse of the “Disney Death” in both Disney and non-Disney animated films. “Still, no matter how ambitious, sophisticated, and elaborate American animated films become, the Disney Death still dominates. It’s spread outside Disney to all sorts of films, from cartoons to adult stories; it’s a […]

The De-Radicalization of American Girl Dolls

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At The Atlantic, Amy Schiller writes about Mattel’s changes to American Girl Dolls line.  from teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness” to customizable accessories reflecting their owners’ own lives. Alexandra Petri writes “Even more terrible things are happening to the American Girl brand than you thought” at The Washington Post. […]

Fatality: Femmes Fatale, Disappointment, Expectations and Fatale

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Expectations can be a killer, at least for me. I really expected to love Fatale (Image, 2012-4). I had every reason to. Writer Ed Brubaker, artist Sean Phillips and colorist Dave Stewart have made some of my favorite comics together: Sleeper; Criminal; Incognito; and Velvet. Brubaker’s Catwoman brought me back to mainstream comics. And Fatale […]

An Open Letter to John Chu

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“Is it so outrageous to think that someone my color would be rocking out in a girl band?” Lindsay Taylor reads an open letter to director John M. Chu, director of the upcoming live action film  Jem And The Holograms . Taylor talks about what the character Shana means to her as well as whitewashing, […]

Vengeful gods and other simulated
life failures

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When it comes to raising a child who can use words and interact with other humans, so far I seem to be succeeding, but I have to admit that my track record prior to this was not exactly promising. Aside from managing to keep an egg safe for a week in middle school, my first […]

The Desire For Certainty In Film

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“In the world of online film discourse, there’s a veritable cottage industry devoted to bringing certainty to ambiguity.” The Dissolve has more. Meanwhile, Film Critic Hulk writes about film logic, plot holes and “THE ONLY ANSWER THAT ACTUALLY MATTERS.” Like this:Like Loading…

Art, Guilt and Intellectual Insecurity

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Jennifer Szalai and Adam Sternbergh argue for removing the guilt from “guilty pleasures.”  And in reading Eleanor Catton’s recent essay about the perception of literary elitism, Laura Miller considers intellectual insecurity in the literary world: “You can find it among fans of easy-to-read commercial fiction who insist (on very little evidence) that the higher-brow stuff […]

“Artists Respond To DC’s Harley Quinn Contest”

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Here’s a gallery of artist responses to DC’s Harley Quinn contest. (Thanks, Mark!) Like this:Like Loading…

The Weinstein Company vs. Asian Cinema

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At Daily Grindhouse, Ric Meyers writes about, “A History of Disrespect: The Weinstein Company’s War on Asian Cinema.” Meanwhile, at Flavorwire, Jason Bailey asks and answers. “Why Do Asian Films Have To Be Dumbed Down For An American Audience?” Like this:Like Loading…

Violence As A Cheap Conflict Drug

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In discussing The Following, Todd VanDerWerff writes about violence & wanting “to be only cool moments”: “Violence becomes a kind of cheap conflict drug, and the show’s writers keep trying to get hit after hit. The effect wears thin, particularly for those familiar with horror movies, who will see every single twist coming.” Like this:Like […]

“Why Does Every Movie Released These Days Feel Exactly The Same?”

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It turns out there’s a reason why movies are starting to feel the same: “Summer movies are often described as formulaic. But what few people know is that there is actually a formula—one that lays out, on a page-by-page basis, exactly what should happen when in a screenplay. It’s as if a mad scientist has […]

Under The Dome, Reviewed

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Grady Hendrix reviews episodes of the tv adaptation of Stephen King’s Under The Dome for Tor.com. Science Fiction Editor Emeritus James wrote about the book here. They are both disappointed, but their disappointment is interesting and sometimes hilarious. Like this:Like Loading…

Writers and Readers

“I write because writing is necessary to me. I don’t do it for the money, or the fame, or the readers (although readers are great). I write because I want to, because I need to, and as such, readers’ opinions, welcome as they always are, won’t change a thing to what I do.” Author Joanne […]

“¡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 […]

“Goodbye for Now, Wonder Woman”

Girls Gone Geek‘s Erika Peterman on why she’s no longer reading Wonder Woman. “At this point, it’s crystal clear that Brian Azzarello is not going to write the Wonder Woman comic I want to read. There’s a big disconnect between Cliff Chiang’s show-stopping, vibrant presentation of the character and the narrative, in which Wonder Woman […]

“The DC New 52 Timeline of Departures, Firings, and Bridge-Burnings”

Gutters and Panels has a convenient timeline of notable departures, firings and bridge-burnings at DC Entertainment since 2010. Like this:Like Loading…

Stepping Back with The Great And Powerful Oz

“With such a rich tapestry on and off the Oz page, it’s depressing that 2013 finds our return to Oz burdened with a reluctant hero (the dominant kind in the 21st century), and not one of Baum’s plucky young heroines. In a bitter reversal of Baum’s stories, ‘Great and Powerful’ casts the women as the […]

“The Circus of Fashion”

As Popshifter has pointed out, Suzy Menkes’ article about fashion, could apply to so many other cultural pursuits now: “It is great to see the commentaries from smart bloggers — especially those in countries like China or Russia, where there was, in the past, little possibility of sharing fashion thoughts and dreams[.] But two things […]

“Porn Fans Aren’t What They Used To Be”

“In an age when every conceivable permutation of pornography is immediately accessible for free online, the power dynamic between viewer and star has shifted. Most porn viewers are still quietly accessing the material from the privacy of their own homes, but because it’s so easy to get, the reverence has faded.” At the Adult Entertainment […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Actor Billie Whitelaw has died. Whitelaw was Samuel Beckett’s “perfect actress” and she also appeared in television and films, including: Gumshoe (1971), Frenzy (1972), The Omen (1976), Space: 1999 (“One Moment of Humanity”) (1976), The Dark Crystal (1982), The Secret Garden (1987), The Krays (1990), Jane Eyre (1996), Quills (2000) and Hot Fuzz (2007).  The Guardian, the BBC and Variety have obituaries. Here Whitelaw performs in Beckett’s “Happy Days” and “Not I,” written by Beckett for Whitelaw.

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims talk abouts the art of lettering in comics. “Comic book lettering is up there with inking and coloring in the holy trinity of underrated comic book skills, but it’s also one of those things that, once you start paying attention to it, you’ll never be able to not notice it again. I’m not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that it’s one of those things that can absolutely ruin a comic if it’s done wrong, even if everything else is perfect. But to be honest, of those three elements, lettering is still probably the most underrated. The thing is, when it’s good, it can be absolutely gorgeous in its own right. And fortunately for us, there are a lot of people who do it very, very well.”

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    Comics Alliance suggests seven Star Wars comics to read before Disney makes them disappear. (Including a comic by one of Comics Editor Carol’s favorite creative teams–Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman). “Starting in 2015, Disney’s handing the publishing of any and all new Star Wars comics over to Marvel Comics, with an all new, optimized-for-corporate-synergy canon that will spread across all their media platforms. Anything that’s not a movie (especially one of the Original Trilogy movies), or a Clone Wars cartoon, will be unceremoniously Order 66-ed out of existence, giving future filmmakers a clean-ish slate to make movies (and money) on. But what about all those Dark Horse comics? That’s where we come in with 7 Dark Horse Star Wars comics you should track down before they disappear.”

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    At the New York Observer, Ashley Steves writes about Craig Ferguson’s The Late, Late Show. “No one could ever prepare you for watching an episode of Ferguson’s Late Late Show. A friend could not sit you down and explain it (“Well, it’s really meta and deconstructive and there’s a horse”). There was really no good way to recommend it. It was something you discovered and became a part of. You had to stumble upon it on your own, perhaps restless or bored or simply curious while flipping through channels when your eye quickly caught some of the madness. And that’s the best part. It was an unexpected gift. At its worst, it could still send you to bed grinning and comforted. At its best, it was art. It was silly and fun and truly not like any other late night show.”

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    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims interviews Ed Brubaker about his work on Batman, Gotham Central and Catwoman. “When I look back at [Catwoman], I’m so proud of the first 25 issues of that book, when I felt like everything was firing on all cylinders. I probably should’ve left when Cameron Stewart left instead of sticking around. That’s one of those things I look back at and think “Ah, I had a perfect run up until then!” (Incidentally, Comics Editor Carol’s first piece for the Gutter was about Brubaker’s first 25 issues of Catwoman).

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    At Sequential Art, Greg Carpenter writes a lovely piece about Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. “After only two installments, Schulz had solidified the rules for his comic strip.  Random acts of cruelty would punctuate this irrational world, and Schulz’s trapped little adults would be forced to act out simulations of human behavior, using hollow gestures to try to create meaning in a universe where no other meaning was evident.  If Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been a cartoonist, the results of his daily grind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” might have looked somewhat similar—each character a “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage” until he or she was heard from no more.”

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