The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

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

“Iris Allen, Laurel Lance & Lois Lane Syndrome”

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Dr. Nerdlove takes a brief break from helping the nerd get the girl to address something that’s been bugging him. “Pardon me while I go off on a bit of a media criticism/ rant here. So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is […]

“He Wears The Mask Just To Cover The Raw Flesh”

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At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.” Like this:Like Loading…

“Why I Play Violent Video Games”

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Maddy Myers writes about playing violent games, wanting to be powerful and internalized sexism. “Given my lifelong history of playing at war, and my desperate wish to feel strong, big, and powerful, it made sense that I would gravitate towards Counter-Strike and its ilk around the age of 15. But Counter-Strike, with its all-male selection […]

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. […]

Interview with Adam Savage

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Mythbusters‘ Adam Savage talks about science, women in science, GamerGate and sexism on the Inquiring Minds podcast. Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

“Bayonetta Doesn’t Care”

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At Paste Magazine, Maddy Myers has some interesting thoughts on  the “male gaze,” the “sub gaze,” Dommes, gender, sexual desire and video game character Bayonetta. “‘[M]ale gaze’ seems like an unkind oversimplification as to who might be doing the ‘gazing’—let alone the identifying—and perhaps evidence that gaming desperately needs a new phrase to describe the […]

A Little Halloween History

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Rosie Cima writes a little bit about the history of Halloween including a look at seasonal stores, sexy costumes and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. (Thanks, Paula!) Like this:Like Loading…

“The Roots of Reactionary Rage”

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At The Daily Beast, Arthur Chu writes about GamerGate, Disco Demolition and Lilith Fair. “The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event […]

“7 Ways Gilmore Girls Got Women Right”

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“Gilmore Girls probably owes its failure to attract widespread acclaim despite running for seven seasons to the traditional cultural devaluation of female-driven genre media, whether it comes in the form of Young Adult fiction, women’s fiction, or female-led Hollywood narratives. Given that Gilmore combined elements of all of the above, it’s no wonder the only Emmy it ever received […]

Engulfed by the Shadow of Dracula

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“Beware that his shadow does not engulf you like a daemonic nightmare.” Of Vampyres, Terrible Phantoms and the Seven Deadly Sins (Nosferatu, 1922) “All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same […]

Two Perspectives on Gone Girl

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At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz notes: “What of Gone Girl as a parable of gender relations, one that eventually takes an ugly misogynist turn? I’ve heard these charges leveled, and they have merit. You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve seen the movie. At the same time, though, as we evaluate those complaints, we owe it to […]

Devil Girl from Inverness

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The BBC’s Steven McKenzie looks at Scotland’s influence on science fiction film and a wee bit of television. (Thanks, Matt!) Like this:Like Loading…

“Marguerite Sauvage’s Wonder Woman and the Slowly Changing Face of Comic Book Fashion”

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At Comics Alliance, Juliet Kahn writes about clothing and costumes in comics, getting Wonder Woman right and Marguerite Sauvage’s work in Sensation Comics #7. “The slightest hint of a damn given to the fashion featured in a comic book makes it immediately more immersive, more affecting, more resonant—because suddenly, its characters look more like real […]

“Classy Ladies, Scary Movies”

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At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some […]

Suffragettes, Amazons and Wonder Woman

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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 […]

“In Defence of Sweary Women”

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At Daily Maverick, Rebecca Davis writes in defense of swearing and, in particular, women who swear: “I don’t think there has been a single occasion on which I have used a swearword in a tweet and not been instantly reprimanded. Almost invariably, this linguistic dressing-down has been delivered by older men whom I have never […]

“The Happy Hunks of Tom of Finland”

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Andy Khouri celebrates “the Happy Hunks of Tom of Finland” at Comics Alliance. “Tom of Finland was the Jack Kirby of gay porn. Working in a section of the comics industry that most fans perhaps spend little time exploring, Tom was a masterful artist, a pioneer, and an inspiration. His work helped establish a gay […]

Interview with Alison Bechdel

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NPR interviews cartoonist Alison Bechdel on the occasion of her MacArthur Genius Grant. “I guess I’m proudest of just really sticking with this odd thing I loved and was good at — drawing comics about marginal people (lesbians) in a marginal format (comics). I never thought much about whether that was responsible, or respectable, or […]

“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.” Like this:Like Loading…

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Author Philip Pullman talks about the work of William Blake at The Guardian: “My mind and my body reacted to certain lines from the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, from ‘Auguries of Innocence,’ from Europe, from America with the joyful immediacy of a flame leaping to meet a gas jet. What these things meant I didn’t quite know then, and I’m not sure I fully know now. There was no sober period of reflection, consideration, comparison, analysis: I didn’t have to work anything out. I knew they were true in the way I knew that I was alive. I had stumbled into a country in which I was not a stranger, whose language I spoke by instinct, whose habits and customs fitted me like my own skin.” (via Kate Laity)

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    At Sequential Art, Ryan Carey deconstructs and reconstructs Jack Kirby’s OMAC . “In order to better understand OMAC, then, we’ll be taking things one piece at a time here — we’ll look at where the ideas came from, how they related to other views of the future popular at the time, where Kirby was, creatively and professionally, in 1974, and ultimately try to decipher precisely why all of this ended up in the shape it ultimately did.  After that, we’ll concern ourselves with the real nitty-gritty of examining each and every one of the series’ eight issues, before taking a look at how, and in what form, the legacy of both the character and the book continue, and evolve, to this day.”

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    Video of illustrator and character designer Katsuya Terada drawing and talking about his work. (via @aicnanime)

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    A 1,300-year-old Egyptian book of spells has been translated. “Among other things, the ‘Handbook of Ritual Power,’ as researchers call the book, tells readers how to cast love spells, exorcise evil spirits and treat “black jaundice,” a bacterial infection that is still around today and can be fatal.”

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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.” It’s telling you not to play the adventure.

    Zack: Not just in that part. In the DM’s notes section at the start, Gygax explicitly warns Dungeon Masters that if your players enjoy killing monsters they will be unhappy with the adventure.

    Steve: ‘This module is only for parties that enjoy dying immediately and repeatedly.’ Oh, man, we’re not going to play though this thing are we?”

    ~

    Dr. Nerdlove takes a brief break from helping the nerd get the girl to address something that’s been bugging him. “Pardon me while I go off on a bit of a media criticism/ rant here. So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is screen death; every time she’s around, everything comes to a screeching halt.

    The problem is: it’s not her fault, it’s the writers. Rather like Laurel Lance in the first two seasons of Arrow, she has Lois Lane syndrome. Her (like Laurel and Lois) entire character arc is based around being ignorant of events that literally everyone else in her life is aware of.”

    ~

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