The Cultural Gutter

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

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.  

“This is how you destroy something beautiful”

N.K. Jemisin is offering a previously published story online for free. Find out why, here. “All my pleasure and pride at having been published in [Weird Tales] is gone. Goes without saying that I won’t be submitting there again, ever, but at this point I’m ashamed to have my name associated with the magazine at […]

50 Shades of Grey: Sharing the Pain

Curious about Fifty Shades of Grey but you suspect it is awful? Author Jennifer Armintrout (aka, Abigail Barnette) reads the book so you don’t have to. Read her blog and feel her pain. (via @DrNerdlove)

Spider-Man and Torture

Colin Smith and Mark White write on Spider-Man, torture and character in response to Spider-Man’s torturing Sandman.  Colin has more on the response to his piece as well.

Josh Olson “Will Not Read Your Fucking Script”

Josh Olson writes:  “[Many aspiring screenwriters] think that screenwriting doesn’t actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn’t require any kind of training, skill […]

Leaving DC and Marvel

At Comics Alliance, David Brothers details why he decided to stop reading DC and Marvel comics. Meanwhile, The Comics Journal interviews Chris Roberson on why he decided to stop writing for DC.

On Wonder Woman and Amazons

Kelly Thompson and Colin Smith offer two related criticisms of Wonder Woman #7. Thompson asks, “Is the Destruction of the Amazons the Destruction of Feminism in DC Comics?” And Smith writes, “Of all of the flak fired up to obscure the mean-spirited, thick-headed sexism of Brian Azzarello’s script for Wonder Woman #7, the most stubbornly […]

“Why Do People Hate Rap and Opera?”

At NPR’s classical music blog, Deceptive Cadence, Tom Huizenga discusses the results of a poll asking readers to “name their musical blind spot.” Over and over, people disliked rap and opera  and Huizenga ponders why that might be and what rap and opera might have in common: “Opera and rap take work to appreciate — […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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    At Never Get Off The Bus, Debbie Moon writes about Captain America: First Avenger. “When adapting existing material, it’s easy to assume that in order to reach point F, you simply have to work through points A – E. To set up Steve Rogers in the modern world, simply romp briskly through everything that happened before he got there. But your character may not be undergoing a single united emotional journey during that period. “

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