The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Entourage And The Slow-Burning Death Of The American Dream”

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At Bitter Empire, Kaleb Horton writes about Entourage: “This movie, with all the charm of a seasoned leisure class alcoholic, coldly and mechanically celebrates the degradation of humanity. It is a movie with no moral center. A movie with no worldview. A commercial for having a million dollars to kill on the Sunset Strip. It […]

“Johnny Depp: Where Did It All Go Wrong?”

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At Multiglom, Anne Billson considers the career of Johnny Depp. “The watershed, of course, was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Depp’s campy, flouncing Captain Jack Sparrow, modelled on Keith Richards, dismayed Disney executives, who thought he was ruining the film, but elevated a run-of-the-mill blockbuster into something deliciously off-kilter. Alas, […]

“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 […]

The Hateful Tomb of Horrors

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Zack and Steve go through and review Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Module S-1: The Tomb Of Horrors at WTF, D&D?!…so you don’t have to. “Steve: Most of the opening paragraph is a warning about difficulty. ‘You’ll never find the demi-lich’s secret chamber’ and the tomb is fraught with “terrible traps, poison gases, and magical protections.” […]

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. […]

Film Critic Hulk and Arthur Chu Face the Void

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Film Critic Hulk has a lovely piece about “Despair, GamerGate and Quitting The Hulk” at Badass Digest. And Arthur Chu remembers his own dark days and meeting Felicia Day in a lovely piece at Salon.

“Video Games, Misogyny and Terrorism”

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

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.”

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!)

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?”

“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 […]

The Algorithm of Success

The New York Times has a piece on the statistical quest for a sure thing box office hit. Meanwhile, The AV Club pans Netflix’s original series, very much grounded in algorithms, Hemlock Grove: “The genius of Netflix’s computer-programmed, demographic targeting approach to TV is that it doesn’t need to create amazing, or challenging, or even […]

“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.

Dystopian Future Round-Up!

This week in Dystopian Future Round-Up: Panopticon Edition: Wired reports on the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s work on recording and storing everything people say; and Google Glass is more than unflattering according to Mark Hurst. (Thanks, @oafbot)

“On One Single Panel in Batman, Inc. #8”

At Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, Colin writes on the murder of Robin, Damian Wayne, as it is depicted in a single panel. “Why does this scene exist? It exists to make entertainment out of a boy’s last, baleful moments. Beyond that, it has no purpose at all. If an objection to that needs […]

Twilight’s Anti-Fandom

Emma Vossen examines Twilight hate and anti-fans, writing: “People have become eager anti-fans of the series, creating an active subculture that manifests in hateful dialogue and value judgements on a seemingly arbitrary slice of a very large pop culture pie.”

Reading 50 Shades of Grey So You Don’t Have To!

“I don’t think she knows how the human body works.” Tonjes reads Chapter 1 and 2 of 50 Shades of Grey. For your further pleasure, “A (Drunken) Dramatic Reading” of 2 (NSFW) sex scenes by Gineriella. (And, in case you missed it, Jennifer Armintrout blogged her whole experience reading the book).

Meeting A Film On Its Own Terms

Matt Stoller Seitz writes about meeting a film on its own terms, suspending your own disbelief and watching From Russia With Love and Singin’ In The Rain with audiences who wouldn’t or couldn’t do either. (Thanks, @DriveInMob)  

Update on Tropes vs. Women In Video Games

At Gameranx, Ian Miles Cheong addresses more kerfuffling in the gamer community over Anita Sarkeesian’s “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” and explains where the project’s at.  

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Rob and Mike watch Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) at The Projection Booth. “The first big American studio film — and last big American studio film – directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, The Black Cat is, uh, ‘inspired’ by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in a taut game of life and death.”

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    Gentleman’s Gazette has a piece on the sartorial splendor of Hercule Poirot and of Captain Hastings in the BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries.

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    At Pitchfork, Barry Walters writes about Grace Jones. “One night in 1993, I finally got my chance to see Jones perform at a local gay nightclub and took my friend Brian, whose partner Mark was too sick to join us….She didn’t back away from the elephant in the room: She dedicated one song to artist and AIDS casualty Keith Haring, who had used her body for a canvas on the occasion of her legendary 1985 Paradise Garage performance. That night’s show was remarkable for the simple fact that Jones just kept on going, granting one encore request after another, waiting patiently while the sound man scoured backing tapes to find the fans’ offbeat choices. When Jones got to such minor numbers as ‘Crush,’ it became clear that she didn’t want to leave. She was giving as much of herself as she could to the beleaguered troops, knowing full well that many wouldn’t live long enough to see her again.”

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    At Pornokitsch, The Gutter’s own dame with a shady past Carol writes about five films noir.  “Do you want to watch some film noir? I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant.”

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    At The Alcohol Professor, The Gutter’s own Keith writes about Billie Holiday in a fantastic two-part piece. Part one traces “the history of Billie Holiday and NYC nightlife through the Harlem Renaissance to Café Society.” Part two covers “Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and the jazz scene in New York City clubs of a bygone era.”

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    The New Yorker has a profile of author Gene Wolfe. “His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.”

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