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

Catharsis denied: when fiery doom
is an anti-climax

lego mount doom 2

When I was about 12, my parents took me to see a stage version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings performed with life-sized puppets. As Frodo was agonizing over pitching his precious ring into the fiery pit of Mount Doom, Sam, exhausted from the epic journey but determined to help his beloved friend, inched […]

The Trouble with Endings, Part 2: The Re-conclusioning

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The trouble with endings, of course, is that they are really difficult to do well. I’ll try to take that warning to heart myself, since this piece will be my last for The Cultural Gutter. And what better way to wrap up a really fun time on a neat project than to look at endings!

What Changing An Ending Means

Becky Chambers breaks down the controversy around the ending of Mass Effect 3 in a spoiler-free, accessible and interesting article at The Mary-Sue.

An Outrageous Farewell

The Aquaman Shrine says good-bye to Batman: The Brave and The Bold, the cartoon in which Aquaman was the break-out star, with a look at the last episode, “Mitefall!,” and an interview with James Tucker, producer of Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

The Psychology of Spoilers

Science studies whether spoilers spoil. Strangely enough, they might not. Even more strangely, they might make the spoiled story more enjoyable.

No More Uncertain Endings

College Humor fixes ambiguous endings from The Graduate to The Sopranos to No Country for Old Men. I’d be happier if Anton Chigurh were taken out by Llewellyn Moss’ ninjitsu, though.

Breaking into the Business by Being Really, Really Disturbing

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Disturbing as hell, an elegantly constructed first-person plunge into the mind of a maniac, a teenager who murdered kids when he was a kid (and got away with it), and now has elaborate rituals that mostly involve killing small mammals. As a first novel, that’s one way to make a splash – The Wasp Factory […]

His Dark Ending

The anti-Narnia has a stinker of an ending

I call it a bait and switch. The first book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass, was an adventure fantasy that was fast-paced and written in an incredibly smooth style. Intrigue, danger, children in peril, armoured polar bears, witch clans at war with each other, and above all, a girl named […]

The Trouble with Endings

Hey Spielberg! Get somebody to finish the script.

I’ve noticed recently that otherwise good stories have been let down by their endings. It’s partly due to the expectations of the audience: you can imagine any kind of ending you want, but when the ending finally arrives, it’s been narrowed down to a single one of those possibilities and it might not be as […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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    Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work.

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    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

     

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    Tim Reis shares ten things he learned from producing his first independent feature The Demon’s Rook. “Making an independent feature film is hard. Making an independent feature film with no money is especially hard. Making an independent feature film with no money, no actors, and a first-time director and crew is almost impossible. It is also the greatest, most liberating thing and you can and should totally do it.” (Thanks, Colin!)

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    The Princeton University Digital Library has digitized three Seventeenth Century Japanese illustrated scrolls and you can view them here. Meanwhile, 100,000 images from Getty Research Institute are now available at the Digital Library of America. (via @BibliOdyssey)

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    The Awl’s Rich Bellis writes about Koh Masaki and the importance of Masaki’s visibility as an out gay man working in the Japanese porn industry. “By the time he died from peritonitis after an appendix operation, at just 29, Masaki had established a celebrity persona in a business where such a thing hadn’t existed before. Japanese censorship laws require blurring genitalia, but social stigma leads many performers (regardless of gender) to obscure their faces, too. Dark sunglasses, hats and blacked-out swimming goggles are common accessories in an industry whose overall value has been estimated at around $20 billion.” (Thanks, Earl)

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