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

“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

    Animator, writer, director and producer Liz Holzman has died. Holzman worked on Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain, DuckTales, Smurfs, Muppet Babies and Darkwing Duck among other television series and films. The Hollywood Reporter, Animation Magazine and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. Animation Insider has an interview with Holzman. Here is a gallery of Holzman’s paintings.

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    The Korean Film Archive has been uploading classics of Korean cinema to their YouTube channel, Korean Classic Film Theater. Modern Korean Cinema reports on the latest 15 films uploaded.

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    A gallery of Mike Allred’s covers for twenty of DC’s titles. (via @profmdwhite)

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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 Marry A Millionaire (1953), The Fan (1981), she appeared in Misery (1990) and voiced the Witch of the Waste in the English language dub of Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and the Gray One in the English language version of Ernest and Celestine (2014). The Guardian and The Los Angeles Times, have obituaries. The Hollywood Reporter collects responses and remembrancesJulianne Escobedo Shepherd writes that “What I love about her is the intelligence and pluckiness that defined her acting and her life. That is what we should be most remembering — her talent, her strength, her fierce essence—the elements that made her an icon of the silver screen.” Here is Bacall’s 1994 interview with Charlie Rose.

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    Simon Fowler shares “The Five Best North Korean Films” at The Guardian. Did Pulgasari make the cut? Is the list Pulgasari five times? Click through to find out. (Thanks, Earl!)

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    Actor and comedian Robin Williams has died. There are many obituaries and remembrances out there, so we’re just choosing a few.  The AV Club, RogerEbert.com and Boing Boing have obituaries. The writers of RogerEbert.com offer tributes. Terry Gilliam talks about directing Williams in The Fisher King. Penny Marshall talks about working with Williams on Laverne & Shirley and directing him in Awakenings.  Marc Maron reposts his interview with Williams on Maron’s WTF Podcast. And here are a few of his less mentioned, darker films: Death To Smoochy (2002);  One Hour Photo (2002); Insomnia (2002); The Secret Agent (1996) and World’s Greatest Dad (2009).

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