The Cultural Gutter

going through pop culture's trash since 2003

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

“Uncanny Avengers, X-Men, Rick Remender, and Oppression Comix”

“[T]he X-Men are a lot of things to a lot of people, but one of the most important things they are—I’m talking top two, right after “sexy people with cool powers”—is an oppression metaphor. You cannot escape this. It is built into the X-Men’s DNA….The oppression metaphor is a vital piece of the engine that […]

Deciding Not To Repel Women

“As nice as it must be to be that [18-25 year old male] demographic—when you’ve got everyone banging on your door, trying to court you, it must be very pleasant—what’s it like for someone who isn’t in that demographic? We know they play our games. We can see that they do. OK, there’s support for […]

Listen Up

Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones –a 1990 documentary about composer and musician Quincy Jones is online and complete.

“Ask Dr. Racism”

At 4thLetter, David Brothers, aka, “Dr. Racism,” talks about “Blackface, Cosplay, Intent, Reactions and Responsibility.” “You don’t have to know the history of race relations to not be a dick about race.”

Diverse Writers, Diverse Readers and Happily Ever Afters

NPR talks about romance written by and for people of color with authors Brenda Jackson, Michelle Monkou, Camy Tang and romance critic Sarah Wendell at the Romance Writers of American convention. (The radio piece is stronger than the written synopsis).

Superman vs. The Ku Klux Klan

Listen to Superman defend Tommy Lee and his family from the Ku Klux Klan in the 1946 Adventures of Superman storyline, “The Clan of the Fiery Cross” at the Internet Archive.

“Remembering Dwayne McDuffie On His Birthday”

Comics Alliance remembers Dwayne McDuffie. “McDuffie was an incredible talent who was often seen as a “black writer” as opposed to just a writer, largely due to both his stature in the industry, and his ability to eloquently discuss the difficulties that face black writers in comics.”

Jim Brown’s Hollywood

“As a Black man in American, I brought something to the screen that hadn’t really been there before.”Jim Brown talks about his film career, making the transition from football to film and producing films in two parts of a documentary by Spike Lee. Here and here.

“Welcome To Black History Month”

At Comics Alliance, David Brothers takes us on a walk through Black history in comics from Krazy Kat; Orrin C. Evans’ All-Negro Comics; Billy Graham’s Panther’s Rage; Hardware and Milestone Comics to now.

“Outrage Deferred: On the Lack of Black Writers in the Comic Book Industry”

“[T]wo major initiatives over the past 18 months from the two biggest comic publishers in this country [were] meant to update their brands in an attempt to better reflect the world we currently live in. Yet somehow, from the angle of a black writer trying to break into comics, this current era in the industry […]

Loving the Alien: Superman and Masculinity

LTA clark kent thumb

Since alex, Chris and I decided to write about masculinity this month, I’ve been thinking about Superman. Actually, I’ve been thinking and rethinking Superman almost as long as I’ve been writing for The Cultural Gutter. I began really thinking about him while watching Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. I’ve spent most of my life—and […]

Scouting the Orientalist Fantasy of a Perfect Chinese Restaurant

Scouting NY writes of the difficulty of finding a Chinese restaurant that satisfies directors’ ideas of a Chinese restaurant in New York, because that restaurant doesn’t exist. “Literally every time I get asked to find a Chinese restaurant, it’s the same description. ‘I want a place with really over-the-top Chinese decor,’ our director will say. […]

White Girls Writing, Race, and Imperfect Efforts

At The Atlantic Wire, Judy Berman writes about Lena Dunham, (and Quentin Tarantino and Michael Chabon) writing about race: “The solution isn’t to prohibit white writers from depicting non-white characters, or to require them to do so. Along with holding these famous names accountable for offensive representations, the US cultural mainstream desperately needs to make […]

“Django Unchain My Heart (And Set Me Free)”

Jim Emerson ponders what he finds good and bad in Django Unchained and a lot of the good is Christoph Waltz: “Quentin Tarantino has found his actor in Christoph Waltz — someone who can speak Tarantinian fluently and still make it his own.” (via Roger Ebert)

“Tarantino Unchained”

Jelani Cobb considers Django Unchained and history at The New Yorker.  “Tarantino’s attempt to craft a hero who stands apart from the other men—black and white—of his time is not a riff on history, it’s a riff on the mythology we’ve mistaken for history. Were the film aware of that distinction, Django would be far […]

“Tarantino’s Candy (Slavery in the White Male Imagination)”

Tanya Steele watches Lincoln and Django Unchained back to back. “I needed to get a glimpse of what slavery was like in the imagination of white men.” (Thanks, Mike White!)

“Me and My People Got History”

David Brothers writes about Luke Cage, comics history and how and why he writes about race. “I really, really care about this stuff. I care about others getting it right and I definitely care about getting it right myself. Otherwise, you get ‘LOL Luke Cage’ instead of treating the guy like his history is as […]

To Kill A Mockingbird and Horror

“Even if we were to discount the element of Southern small town prejudice and the ugly courtroom trial that occupies the film’s center, this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee is just plain spooky… and it is my feeling that it has bestowed upon us a legacy of horror that we […]

The Last Minstrel Show

Joe Lansdale writes about the last minstrel show in East Texas.  “I never saw any African-American minstrel shows, but I heard about them from those who had. I certainly saw a white minstrel show. I saw it in a time when public places sported ‘white’ and ‘colored’ water fountains and restrooms, and when restaurants that […]

Cloud Atlas, Racebending and Racism

Racebending and Hyperallergic discuss the racism and lack of critical response to racism in Cloud Atlas‘ use of “colorblind casting.”  Mike Le responds to the trailer: Ultimately…my belief is that Cloud Atlas will eventually be viewed through the same lens as films like The Good Earth, Birth of a Nation, or even Dumbo. These are films […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Tin House has published an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness illustrated by Matt Kish, an interesting follow-up to Kish’s project, Moby-Dick In Pictures; One Drawing For Every Page. See more of Kish’s work here.

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    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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    Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”

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    Some interesting thoughts on South Korean cinema with “A Dish Best Served Bloody: Revenge In South Korean Cinema” and this Cannes program piece on Arirang (1926) and the history of Korean film.

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    Al-Jazeera America profiles John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a documentary about Cambodian rock’n’roll and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge. “Until 1975, music thrived in Phnom Penh, with clubs full night after night, crowds gathering in the streets around transistor radios to hear the latest releases, and the biggest stars being feted by the king. Enter the Khmer Rouge, communism and the war on intellectuals. Between 1975 and 1979, about 2 million Cambodians, roughly a third of the population, were rounded up and either were killed or died of starvation. Artists were particularly disliked by the Khmer Rouge, which saw creativity as decadence: Almost all of the biggest names perished during that era.”

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