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

Elves of Color


Cleopatra’s Weave draws some amazing Elves of color (and David J. Prokopetz shares a story trying to get more racial representation in a fantasy illustration project).

RIP, James Shigeta


Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed […]

“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.”  

RIP, Bobby Womack

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Singer, songwriter and composer Bobby Womack has died. The stand-alone importance of his music aside, Womack’s songs were used in innumerable film soundtracks and Womack composed the soundtrack for Across 110th Street (1972). The Los Angeles Times, Time and The Telegraph have obituaries. At Ebony, Gary Harris remembers Womack. The New Yorker considers “The Unimpeachable […]

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 […]

Thoughts on Trolls


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!)

Default Setting


In writing about Watch Dogs, Samantha Allan discusses white male characters as a default setting in games: “Games released at the start of a console cycle (like Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved for the original Xbox) tend to push the technical characteristics of gaming forward, while trotting out the same staid characters and story lines. Late […]

“America, Be Seated!”


The Smithsonian Magazine‘s Vicky Gan looks at “The Story Behind the Failed Minstrel Show at the 1964 World’s Fair.” “Remarkably, the musical received support from the NAACP. The organization, understandably turned off by the minstrel show label, was critical of the production at first, but after seeing a Boston preview NAACP officials reversed their stance, […]

An Open Letter to John Chu


“Is it so outrageous to think that someone my color would be rocking out in a girl band?” Lindsay Taylor reads an open letter to director John M. Chu, director of the upcoming live action film  Jem And The Holograms . Taylor talks about what the character Shana means to her as well as whitewashing, […]

Heart of Darkness, A Drawing For Every Page


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.

Black Napoleon’s Throne Of Satan

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This week, Guest Star David Foster writes about how an Australian pulp thriller is altered when it was published in the United States as part of the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit‘s Swapathon. Comics Editor Carol will be back in April. There are many elements that made up the counter culture movement of the […]

“It’s Black History Month & Women In Horror Month: Our Future”


Graveyard Shift Sisters writes about the merging of Black History Month & Women In Horror Month: “The marriage of our stories and horror in 2014 is uncharted and drowning in possibilities. We can’t negate the magnitude of visual representation. Mirroring my first point, what we say and affirm about the multiplicitous life of Black women […]

Becoming a Cipher to Oneself


At Jim C. Hines’ blog, writer Micha Trota writes about what it means when she says, “I don’t see race.” “It means that because I learned to see no difference between ‘white’ and ‘color,’ I have white-washed my own sense of self. It means that I know more about what it is to be a […]

“An Alternate History of Flappy Bird”


At Radiator Design Blog, Robert Yang writes about the indie game Flappy Bird and the harassment of its designer, Dong Ngyuen. “I suspect that if Nguyen were a white American, this would’ve been the story of a scrappy indie who managed to best Zynga with his loving homage to Nintendo’s apparent patent on green pixel […]

A Treasury of African-American Films Made For African-American Audiences


The Riverbends Genealogical and Historical Society has a collection of “race movies”: “The ‘race movie’ or ‘race film’ was a film genre which existed in the United States between about 1915 and 1950. It consisted of films produced for an all-black audience, featuring black casts. In all, approximately five hundred race films were produced. Of […]

RIP, Al Goldstein

Publisher of Screw magazine and pornography and free speech advocate Al Goldstein has died. The Guardian, The Village Voice, The New York Times and The Miami Herald have obituaries. And here’s a blog dedicated to the appreciation of Screw magazine’s cover art (NSFW & warning: possible triggers).

“The Aesthetic Politics of Filming Black Skin”


Ann Hornaday discusses “The Aesthetic Politics of Filming Black Skin”: “For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards […]

Demanding Better Representation


At XOJane, Chaka Cumberbath demands better representation for Black girl nerds in geek culture: “We can be spunky. We can be vivacious. We can be complicated and beautiful and emotional and flawed and we might be all of those things or none of those things at all, but we deserve to be written. We deserve […]

“Why Is Grand Theft Auto So Conservative?”


This Cage Is Worms has some thoughts on Grand Theft Auto V, and Grand Theft Auto in general: “By making fun of ‘everything,’ GTAV is trying to convince us that it is above any real commitment to an ideology.” (via @bombsfall)

The March: On Chickens, Humanity and Moral Authority

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Other more serious writers have written about Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell‘s The March, Vol 1. (Top Shelf, 2013) . They’ve written about the audacious presentation of solemn historical material in a graphic novel; John Lewis’ contribution to perfecting the Union;  The March‘s importance in relation to American History and the fiftieth […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    There’s a free audio book adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ Locke & Key at


    At Actionland, Heroic Sister Achillesgirl writes about subtitling the 1964 wuxia film, Buddha Palm. And she provides you with the subtitles and a link to the film!


    At Bleeding Cool, Cap Blackard writes about the contested homeworld of Howard the Duck. “If you’ve seen the much maligned Howard the Duck film or read any Howard the Duck stories published since 1979, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Duckworld. You know, an alternate Earth where everyone is ducks and everything is duck-themed: Ducktor Strange, Bloomingducks, etc, etc. Sounds like a recipe for a finite barrel of bad jokes, right? It is, and it’s also not Howard’s real point of origin. During his landmark initial run, Howard’s creator Steve Gerber had the down-and-out duck hailing from a world of talking animals, but all that changed when Gerber was kicked off the book and Disney flashed a lawsuit. Now, after decades of backstory fumbling, Mark Waid has reinstated Howard’s point of origin in a one-shot issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Thanks, Mark!)


    At The Village Voice, Jackson Connor writes about the making of The Warriors. Amid the refurbished boardwalk and laughter of children, it’s easy to forget that Coney Island was once a place where tourists did not venture. For much of the latter half of the twentieth century, street gangs dominated this neighborhood. They ran rampant through the area’s neglected housing projects, tearing along Surf and Neptune avenues toward West 8th Street. Those gangs, or gangs like them, and that incarnation of Coney Island would form the backbone of author Sol Yurick’s 1965 debut novel, The Warriors, about the young members of a street gang. More than a decade after the novel’s publication it would be optioned and, eventually, turned into a major motion picture of the same name.” (via @pulpcurry)


    Edith Garrud taught Suffragettes jiu-jitsu and formed Emmeline Pankhurst’s Bodyguard. “The first connection between the suffragettes and jiu-jitsu was made at a WSPU meeting. Garrud and her husband William, who ran a martial arts school in London’s Golden Square together, had been booked to attend. But William was ill, so she went alone. ‘Edith normally did the demonstrating, while William did the speaking,’ says Tony Wolf, writer of Suffrajitsu, a trilogy of graphic novels about this aspect of the suffragette movement. ‘But the story goes that the WSPU’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, encouraged Edith to do the talking for once, which she did.'”


    At Playboy, Jake Rossen writes about the story behind the filming and the restoration of Manos: The Hands of Fate. “For a long time no one wanted to see it unless it was accompanied by MST3K’s taunts. Then, in 2011, a collector of film prints uncovered the original negative of Manos and embarked on an inexplicable project to restore the film with all the white-glove attention archivists give to Hollywood classics. His efforts would incur the wrath of a mysterious man with a fake New Zealand accent named Rupert, as well as Joe Warren, Hal Warren’s embittered son, who intends to preserve the Manos legacy at all costs.” (Thanks, Ed!)


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