The Cultural Gutter

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

“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.”

“Women As Background Decoration: Part 2″

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In  Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, “Women As Background Decoration: Part 2,” Anita Sarkeesian discusses “how sexualized female bodies often occupy a dual role as both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence.” It is quite graphic in terms of violence and sexual violence.

Line Up for the TIFF 2014 Vanguard Program

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Here are the films playing the Vanguard program at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: Spring; Luna; Hyena; Goodnight, Mommy / Ich Seh, Ich Seh; Alleluia; The Duke Of Burgundy; Over Your Dead Body; Shrew’s Nest; They Have Escaped; Waste Land; The World of Kanako; and The Voices. (Trailers added as they become available).

RIP, Lauren Bacall

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Actor Lauren Bacall has died. Bacall is most famous for work with her first husband Humphrey Bogart, To Have And Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946) and Key Largo (1948), but she also starred in Douglas Sirk’s classic melodrama Written On The Wind (1956), co-starred with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How To […]

Writing Nicole Perlman out of Guardians Of The Galaxy

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“If [James] Gunn’s dismissal of Perlman’s milestone [screenwriting] credit continues to go unchecked, it seems possible that Perlman’s involvement in the success of Guardians of the Galaxy will eventually be forgotten. As it is, she was not invited back for the sequel, which Gunn will write and direct on his own.” Ellen Killoran has more […]

Fly, Darna, Fly!

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Last February, Todd Stadtman and Tars Tarkas invited me on the Infernal Brains podcast to discuss space ladies with them. We covered a lot of films, but I didn’t get to one film Todd suggested we watch, Darna Vs. The Planet Women (1975). I finally did recently and he was so right—Darna Vs. The Planet […]

Stories Are Important

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This week SF/F Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns as a Guest Star! Stories are important, we all know this. I hasten to add: and they should be fun too, otherwise why bother reading them? Every once in a while, I run across a new author that balances “something to say” and “have fun saying it” […]

Apologizing for “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

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At Salon, Nathan Rabin apologizes for coining the phrase, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” “I remember thinking, even back then, that a whole list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls might be stretching the conceit too far. The archetype of the free-spirited life-lover who cheers up a male sad-sack had existed in the culture for ages. But […]

“Character and the Audience: The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow”

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Debbie Moon ponders the “Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow” and Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow is always male, and he’s that guy who can kill a roomful of people without breaking a sweat – but who is massively emotionally vulnerable, has no social support system, and is incapable of interacting with civilized society. […]

“The Last Straw”

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Maureen Ryan writes about Tyrant and the lazy use rape as a trope. “I’m just so tired of violence against women being used as storytelling No-Doz–something to juice up the proceedings and then discard at will.”  

Einstein and the Bearded Lady

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The Czech science fiction comedy I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen (Zabil jsem Einsteina, panove) starts off with a fairly shocking scene, even by the standards of today: two bearded men locked in the throes of a passionate kiss. It’s a fake-out, we soon learn, a way to introduce both the central premise of the plot — […]

“Glamorous Insect Ladies”

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Boing Boing has a gallery of photographer Laurent Seroussi’s images of women melded with insects. (Thanks, Chuck!)

“Exploring Apatow and Rogen’s Schlubby Non-Misogyny”

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Film School Rejects looks at the Judd Apatow’s comedies: “Apatow is not a denialist of misogyny within society. In fact, if you read the many personal #YesAllWomen anecdotes—all of his films verify that sad reality in a non-condoning, often vilifying way. Through non-traditional heroes, he navigates his audience to a hopeful future.With personal, transformational films comes […]

Interview with Kellee Terrell

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Graveyard Shift Sisters talks with writer/director Kellee Terrell about representation and Black women in horror film . “A story about love, loss, regret and sacrifice could be told in any medium with any kind of backdrop. But I was never really interested in telling Aimee and Cynthia’s story if zombies weren’t part of it. Because […]

Trinity Syndrome

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“For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.” Tasha Robinson writes more about this in […]

RIP, Ruby Dee

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Actor and activist Ruby Dee has died. Dee appeared in many roles in film, television and on stage. She appeared in St. Louis Blues (1958),  A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Guiding Light (1967), Peyton Place (1968-9), Buck and the Preacher (1972), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991),  American Gangster (2007). Josie Pickens […]

Interview with Natsuo Kirino

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Japan Review interviews Natsuo Kirino, an author best known for her dark crime novels:  “I don’t think I exclusively tell stories of women criminals. However, being a woman in this society is mainly an anonymous existence. I don’t think the fact that the environment is such that women are nameless and overlooked is a good […]

Female Friendship and the Slenderman Stabbing

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“[The Slenderman Stabbing] appears to echo patterns of behavior—belief in culturally-supported fantasies, tightly-cathected bonds between young women, an intensity of connection that has occasionally led to violence—that have occurred repeatedly, in various forms, throughout history and around the world. And they happen outside the heterosexual framework we use to understand [Elliot] Rodgers’ misogynistic rampage. This crime is […]

Thoughts on Trolls

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At PBS Idea Channel, Mike considers and then reconsiders the beneficial effects of trolls. At Kill Screen, Matthew Byrd writes about the integration of trolling into a multiplayer online gaming experience, particularly with DayZ and Demon’s Soul. (Thanks, Edie!)

Romance Novels as Respite

Alyssa Rosenberg writes on “Another year, another man who is utterly horrified to discover just how many American women read romance novels.” (via @igallupd)

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Actor Richard Kiel has died. Kiel worked in both film and television, including performances in The Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”; Eegah (1962); The Barbary Coast with William Shatner; Happy Gilmore (1996); Pale Rider (1985); as Vlad in Tangled (201); and as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).   The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times and Variety have obituaries. Here he is interviewed with Britt Ekland. And David Letterman interviews Kiel here.

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    Open Culture has a round-up of eight free and complete films by Dziga Vertov, including Man With A Movie Camera (1929) and the first Soviet animated feature, Soviet Toys (1924). (Thanks, Earl!)

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    Matt Zoller Seitz has written a lovely meditation on Robin Williams at RogerEbert.com: “Williams wore the invisible garments of depression. He carried that burden. A lot of the time we didn’t see it, because he was a bright and enthusiastic comic performer and a great actor. But the weight was always there.

    Somehow he lived 63 years.

    What a warrior he was.”

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    At Kaiju Shakedown, Hiroshi Fukazawa interviews director Ringo Lam. “Not as flashy as John Woo, never as hyperkinetic as Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam is one of Hong Kong’s most underappreciated directors. He made his name with sophisticated, downbeat crime dramas that came to define a certain style of urban Hong Kong cinema in the Eighties and early Nineties. After getting his start in television at CTV and TVB, he directed five features before finding his stride with 1987’s City on Fire, the movie that provided the blueprint for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.”

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    “[Grace] Jones — who was famous not just for her music, but also for her acting and modeling — took Lundgren to New York, where they partied at the legendary Studio 54 and Andy Warhol took pictures of Lundgren. Jones introduced Lundgren to the world of show business. Meanwhile, Lundgren was still set to begin his Fulbright scholarship at MIT. ‘I started sort of thinking, “Wow, this is kind of cool,”‘ Lundgren remembers: ‘”I don’t know if I want to go back to engineering after this.”‘ More at NPR.

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    “A mid-20th century collaboration between artists, poets and printers gave rise to a unique book of surrealistic creatures accompanied by complementary typographic art poems.” See more at BibliOdyssey. (Thanks, Andrezo!)

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