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

Vic Armstrong on Buster Keaton

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Stunt performer Vic Armstrong talks about the stunt work of Buster Keaton. (via Graham Wynd)

David Banner will never have a
normal life

Transforming into the Hulk

Whenever I find myself edging towards misery or self-pity, I start humming the ending theme from The 1970′s tv version of The Incredible Hulk. I think to myself, “David Banner will never have a normal life.” It’s a technique I owe to Carol Borden, who has a lot of interesting things to say about The […]

“The Nominative Case”

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Judge John Hodgman decides a case of towering nerdiness: “Jordan, a lifelong comic book fan, and his friend Charles were discussing the DC comics villain Mr. Mxyzptlk and made a wager: if Jordan’s friends could trick him into saying his own name backwards, he’d owe them five dollars.”

“Everything is, AND ALWAYS WAS, Very Very Serious”

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Chris Sims reviews DC’s Superman: A Celebration OF 5 Years. “It’s divided into different eras….But thematically? There’s not a lot of variety. They focus overwhelmingly on one idea of how they want you to see Superman, and the Superman they present is a depressed sad sack who never wins. That’s the Superman they want you […]

Summer Fun Time Reading ’13

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It’s hot and the air already feels like unset Jell-O, but you still have some time to prepare for summer, because all the list-happy magazines and websites tell me, summer must be prepared for. Dig out your seersucker suit! Bob your hair! Find that most fashionable bathing suit–might I suggest a kicky Twenties number? You’ll […]

Superman and Transcending Reality

“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true.” Writer Greg Rucka writes more about Superman and […]

The Good Outnumber You: A Look at Heroism in Storytelling

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When I was a mere lad, I picked up a battered newsstand copy of Power Man and Iron Fist. I had grown up with superheroes in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk, and The Herculoids on the television, but my comics reading prior to that issue of Power Man and Iron Fist was […]

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.

Dave Lartigue On Orson Scott Card And Boycotting Comics

“Orson Scott Card isn’t being taken to task solely for his opinions, idiotic and thuggish as they are, but also for his actions. He sits on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which lobbies and works against basic civil rights for gay people. He is not merely a tool spewing hatred and bile […]

Loving the Alien: Superman and Masculinity

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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 […]

The Dark Knight and the Bitter Tears of Alfred Pennyworth: Batman and Realism Part 2

This week Screen Editor alex MacFadyen and Comics Editor Carol Borden continue discussing The Dark Knight Rises. We both like Batman and we’re fascinated by how many different Batmans there are. Even though there are things we like about the film, we want to figure out what is it about The Dark Knight Rises‘ Batman […]

The Dark Knight and the ACME Bomb: Batman and realism part I

The ending to The Dark Knight Rises left my wife doubled over laughing in the parking lot of the theatre. I tried to take a picture for posterity, but it was too dark. Given that no one else in the audience seemed affected in the same way, I expect I’ll need to explain why: simply […]

Batman vs. The French Revolution

“A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hasn’t ended.” “The mask is to show that Batman could be anybody.” Is saying anyone can be Batman the same as saying anyone can be a […]

Indian Superhero Roll Call!

Todd Stadtman assembles a list of India’s mightiest film superheroes for The Times of India!  

LEGO Superman in LEGO Gotham City

MTV Geek‘s Charles Webb got a preview of LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes.  “Their latest features the Dynamic Duo teaming up with the Justice League after the Joker forms an alliance with Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor based on a story by Traveller’s Tales.”  There are screenshots…  

The Woman in the Costume

“Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” –Coco Chanel “The core of the issue for me is the integrity of the superhero and that’s something that I take very seriously and the costume figures prominently in that. It would have to. And that’s why with Star […]

Lois Lane, Gun Moll

The Belated Nerd  recounts the story of “Lois Lane, Gun Moll” as part of his series, “What Was Lois Lane Up To 50 Years Ago.”

Superman’s Ex-Girlfriend, Lana Lang

Unofficial, Unsanctioned, Unsolicited–Colleen Coover’s “Superman’s Ex-Girlfriend Lana Lang!”

What Would Superman Do?

Comics Alliance reports on Superman taking on a more global role by renouncing his citizenship and there’s a blow out in their comments thread. Meanwhile, Colin at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics has been pondering Superman, community and Superman belonging to the world in a series of thoughtful and provocative essays for a while […]

Origin Story

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How did Carol Borden become a fan of DC superheroes? Did she uncover the truth that criminals were a cowardly and superstitious lot? Was she packed into an interstellar cradle and shot into space with the blind hope that she would be found and raised to value truth, justice and the superhero way? Or was […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    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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    Architecture Daily has an excerpt from City of Darkness detailing the development of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City. “By the 1970s, the City had filled out to its maximised form, with buildings of up to 14 storeys in height, and virtually no ground level daylight penetration save at its centre. Its density was estimated to have reached a mere 7 square feet per person. The yamen area had somehow remained an exception to the vertical development, leased to a missionary society in 1949 for use as an almshouse and old people’s home. Eventually, it defined the sole substantial void within the Walled City, with visible sky above it.”

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