The Cultural Gutter

the cult in your pop culture

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

“Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophers”

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At Existential Comics, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Immanuel Kant, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida play Dungeons & Dragons.

“Blood, Meth and Tears”

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At Cinema Junkie, Beth Accomando says good-bye to Breaking Bad: “In the end for me what Breaking Bad delivered was a portrait of America and a distinctly American sense of identity. By tapping into the western genre, the show starts with something quintessentially American. That genre is prone to celebrate the individual over the community […]

Is that a gun in your sweatpants?
Art, morality and The Superbowl

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I told my 3 year old that I’d find a bed for his google-eyed dinosaur. “I promise, sweetheart.” Then, after 45 minutes of ducking in and out of his room with him crying and the senile cat howling in the background while I tried to write an article, I threw the dinosaur across the living […]

Moral Failure, Procedural Success and Zero Dark Thirty

“Recall that Bigelow wanted to make a movie about the failure to capture bin Laden, before the whole world knew, as she puts it, that he’s dead. Consider that she has still made a movie about a failure, a moral failure, our failure, embedded in a procedural success.” Sarah Nicole Prickett has more about Kathryn […]

“No Matter How Hard They’re Punched: Superheroes and Real World Issues”

Books and Adventures finishes off a series on comics and educations with a discussion of superheroes and real world issues between Books and Adventures’ Matt Finch, Professor Mark D. White of CUNY; Tom Miller of McMaster University; critic, screenwriter and University of Melbourne graduate student, Martyn Pedler; and artist-educator and doctoral candidate at Teachers College, […]

“What destroys the mortals is not a system, but a fellow mortal.”

Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu compare Breaking Bad with The Sopranos, The Wire and Mad Men before examining its approach to evil:  “Within this quartet, Breaking Bad is most similar to The Wire, and indeed is its twin and mirror image….David Simon likened The Wire to a Greek tragedy, by which he meant that sociology […]

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.

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.

6000 Words on Summer Comic Book Movies

Over at The Hathor Legacy, we find out Why Captain America is Better than X-Men: First Class and Thor: “Captain America is very much a movie about the choices people make, and trying to be a good person, which is pretty rare in mainstream cinema.”

Jia Zhangke Speaks Out Against Cenorship in China

“The only reason that we cannot make genre movies is the barrier that censorship sets.” Jia Zhangke says more here.  Meanwhile a leaked diplomatic document gives  some insight as to whose taste is being served in recent Chinese historical epics.  Xi Jinping admires American World War II dramas:  “Some Chinese moviemakers neglect values they should promote…America […]

Kirkbride, Castles of the Midwest.

Kirkbride Buildings are the castles of the American Midwest. They’re also 19th century State Hospitals.

Milestone!

So much Milestone going on! Milestone creator Dwayne McDuffie talks with The Atlantic about “reinventing personal mythologies, pop-cultural representations of race and an investigation of what shapes our moral frameworks” and how much he likes writing romance.  Meanwhile, Evan Narcisse shares his memories of Milestone Comics–with pictures.

Hollow Victory

The Artful Gamer writes about the hollow victory of playing a good character in many roleplaying videogames: “Yet, days later, I feel like Conan the Barbarian, sitting on his throne at the end of the first film like a king who has done it all yet feels ultimately unfulfilled. This is when the spiritual hollowness […]

Are Video Games Moral?

Are video games moral? Yes, but what does “moral” mean, writes Oliver Saenz in “Killing Grannies, Slaughtering Monsters and Leveling the Fuck Up.”

Civil Engineer

Sad citizens? Buy them some entertainers!

Jeff Chapman started playing Civilization (MicroProse, 1991) when it came out and never stopped. He’s played the strategy turn-based videogame series for the past decade I’ve known him. Far from letting it consume him, he’s balanced his job as editor of History Magazine with a plethora of other projects, and so I thought he would […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tom Burtonwood has created Folium, a book of three-dimensional printing of bas relief, for the Art Institute of Chicago from its collection. (Via Boing Boing)

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    We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

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    Throne of the Crescent Moon author Saladin Ahmed has posted “a micro-mini Crescent Moon Kingdoms world guide that had previously only been available as part of a UK-exclusive ebook” for people to use in their roleplaying games. But even if you aren’t a gamemaster, it’s pretty sweet.

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    At We Are Respectable Negroes, Chauncey Devega interviews friend of the Gutter Mark D. White about the virtues of Captain America. “In this, the ninth episode, of the second season of WARN’s podcast series, we talk about what comic books and superheroes can tell us about philosophy and politics, work through what makes someone ‘heroic,’ the ways that the general public often misunderstands and misreads the Captain America character, as well as how American exceptionalism, race, and identity relate to superhero and other types of comic books and graphic novels.”

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    Alexander Chee writes about difficulty some have in evaluating comics or even in taking them seriously. “As a frequent juror on prizes, colonies and fellowships, I am, it could be said, so tired of this, that in fact, I will fight you for Roz Chast’s right to be on this list. I will fight you for the right for Bechdel to get that MacArthur. In a ring, covered in grease, MMA style. That is how sick of it I am.”

    And Dylan Meconis has some suggestions on how to improve writing about comics. “This leaves all the critics who are just beginning their journey into comics reading, or who have yet to be entirely won over to the medium but want to keep an open mind (perhaps due to peer pressure: I remember a literati cocktail party where somebody near me anxiously muttered ‘I guess we’re all supposed to read graphic novels now.’) These brave souls are willing to give it a try, but they tend to make a lot of mistakes when they first start out.” (Thanks, Gareth!)

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    At Black Girl Nerds, Jamie Broadnax writes a powerful piece about racism, cosplaying, police violence and the homicide of Darrien Hunt. “The first thing we need to do is NOT let this story scare us nor intimidate us into believing that we should be fearful of cosplaying.  We should still encourage others who may not yet have participated in cosplay to know that there are several communities for people of color to have safe spaces where they can be embrace and be their nerdy selves. If there is little to no news about this incident on other mainstream geek sites that feature cosplayers, then framing this around race is pertinent and they should be called out on their silence.  Even IF this is not an incident where Darrien Hunt was actively cosplaying, the tone has already been set and anyone who is a part of the cosplay community should address this matter.  Many Black cosplayers are concerned about this, and still wonder if they would be viewed as ‘suspicious’ walking down the street.”

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