The Cultural Gutter

taking the dumb out of fandom

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

Critics and Comics

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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 […]

“Le Bestiare Fabuleux”

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“A mid-20th century collaboration between artists, poets and printers gave rise to a unique book of surrealistic creatures accompanied by complementary typographic art poems.” See more at BibliOdyssey. (Thanks, Andrezo!)

Haruki Murakami on his Writing

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The Guardian has collected some responses Haruki Murakami gave to reader questions at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. “I don’t have any idea at all, when I start writing, of what is to come. For instance, for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the first thing I had was the call of the bird, because I heard […]

RIP, Liz Holzman

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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 […]

Writing Nicole Perlman out of Guardians Of The Galaxy

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“If [James] Gunn’s dismissal of Perlman’s milestone [screenwriting] credit continues to go unchecked, it seems possible that Perlman’s involvement in the success of Guardians of the Galaxy will eventually be forgotten. As it is, she was not invited back for the sequel, which Gunn will write and direct on his own.” Ellen Killoran has more […]

The Rockford Files, The Sopranos and Classic Television

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Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. […]

“Character and the Audience: The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow”

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Debbie Moon ponders the “Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow” and Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow is always male, and he’s that guy who can kill a roomful of people without breaking a sweat – but who is massively emotionally vulnerable, has no social support system, and is incapable of interacting with civilized society. […]

“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, Paul Mazursky

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Writer, director, actor and producer Paul Mazursky has died. Mazursky directed Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice (1969), Harry And Tonto (1974),  An Unmarried Woman (1978), Moscow On The Hudson (1984), Down And Out In Beverly Hills (1986), Enemies, A Love Story (1989). Mazursky was Emmanuel Stoker in The Blackboard Jungle (1955), a tv […]

Trinity Syndrome

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“For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.” Tasha Robinson writes more about this in […]

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 […]

Godzilla Noir

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The Gutter’s own Carol shares a bit of her hardboiled Godzilla detective fiction at Monstrous Industry. Here’s a segment from “Three Kings” and two from “A Mark In Blue.”: ‘“Hell,’ I muttered, glancing down. My side was a mess of rearranged gears and blue coolant weeped from a broad gash. There was another smear of […]

Homer Simpson’s Last Theorem

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Attention mathematicians and Simpsons fans: On Numberphile, Simon Singh and Brady Haran discuss Fermat’s Last Theorem’s appearances in culture and evaluate Homer Simpson’s solution.

Default Setting

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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 […]

Irony, Art and Writing

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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 […]

Fan Theorizing and True Detective

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“Fan-crafted theorizing is fun enough – it’s a solid way to keep up audience engagement over a show’s run and even inject excitement into series that might be flailing on its own (see: that horrifying “dead mother” theory that’s been circulating amongst How I Met Your Mother fans, which is either entirely insane or decidedly […]

The Desire For Certainty In Film

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“In the world of online film discourse, there’s a veritable cottage industry devoted to bringing certainty to ambiguity.” The Dissolve has more. Meanwhile, Film Critic Hulk writes about film logic, plot holes and “THE ONLY ANSWER THAT ACTUALLY MATTERS.”

RIP, Harold Ramis

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Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis has died. He is probably best known for  SCTV, Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Groundhog Day. He also had memorable roles in As Good As It Gets and Knocked Up.  The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. The […]

“The LEGO Movie: Further Evidence of Will Ferrell’s Subversive Genius”

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“To be fair, I have no idea whether [Will Ferrell] had input into the script of The Lego Movie or not. But the mere fact that he was cast as the movie’s villain should have been a giveaway as to its ideology. For more than a decade now, Ferrell’s starred in big, dumb films of surprising political […]

RIP, Sid Caesar

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Comedian, actor and writer Sid Caesar has died. The New York Times and Variety have obituaries. Time has gathered clips of his work. The Archive of American Television has an interview with Caesar here.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    “I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time—even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible—it wasn’t, not really—but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.” Emmett Rensin writes more at Vox.

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    At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse has some things to say about reading Romance. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.”

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    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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    Photographer Kevin Weir uses vintage photographs to create haunting animation in “The Flux Machine.” The Guardian has an interview with Weir and more on his work.

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    At the New Yorker, Jill Lepore considers the intertwining histories of women’s suffrage, feminism, Amazons and Wonder Woman. “It isn’t only that Wonder Woman’s backstory is taken from feminist utopian fiction. It’s that, in creating Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston was profoundly influenced by early-twentieth-century suffragists, feminists, and birth-control advocates and that, shockingly, Wonder Woman was inspired by Margaret Sanger, who, hidden from the world, was a member of Marston’s family.”

     

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    Tim Reis shares ten things he learned from producing his first independent feature The Demon’s Rook. “Making an independent feature film is hard. Making an independent feature film with no money is especially hard. Making an independent feature film with no money, no actors, and a first-time director and crew is almost impossible. It is also the greatest, most liberating thing and you can and should totally do it.” (Thanks, Colin!)

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