The Cultural Gutter

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"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

    At the New Republic, B. D. McClay writes about Shirley Jackson and a new collection containing previously unpublished stories and essays by Jackson. “Let Me Tell You, on the other hand, is for the already-converted fan, who will be delighted to read so many new stories and essays. The greatest attraction is the 15 essays, which touch on subjects as diverse as the travails of being married to a book critic (‘book reviewing is just nothing for a healthy young girl to be married to’), Samuel Richardson (‘no small action is consummated in less than ten pages’), poltergeist-bearing postcards (‘I think it is simply too much for any one house to have poltergeists and children’), and clowns.”

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    At Teleport City, the Gutter’s own Carol writes about 12 books that vary in reputability and their harrowing nature. They include books by Shirley Jackson, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith and Herman Melville.

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    Anne Billson has posted a 1985 interview she did with director George Miller (the Mad Max films). Miller talks about many things including Aunty Entity’s probable past as a hero and Max as, in Mel Gibson’s words, “a closet human being.” (Thanks, Matt!)

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    At New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells writes about bees, colony collapse disorder and beekeeper Dave Hackenberg. “It’s been a long decade for bees. We’ve been panicking about them nonstop since 2006, when beekeeper Dave Hackenberg inspected 2,400 hives wintering in Florida and found 400 of them abandoned — totally empty. American beekeepers had experienced dramatic die-offs before, as recently as the previous winter in California and in regular bouts with a deadly bug called the varroa mite since the 1980s. But those die-offs would at least produce bodies pathologists could study. Here, the bees had just disappeared. In the U.K., they called it Mary Celeste syndrome, after the merchant ship discovered off the Azores in 1872 with not a single passenger aboard. The bees hadn’t even scrawled CROATOAN in honey on the door on their way out of the hive.”

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    Andrew Nette has a pair of interesting pieces on pulp you might be interested in. First, he writes about “the New Pulp” and a bit about Fifty Shades of Gray in “Fifty Shades of Pulp.” Then he writes about pulp and literacy and furthering social advancement in “Pulp and Circumstance.”  “Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.”

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    The Projection Booth interviews actor Ed Asner.

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