The Cultural Gutter

dangerous because it has a philosophy

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

The Book

Get the Gutter in Book Form with Original Infographic Illustrations by EJ Lee!

From ETC Press
Carol Borden, Ian Driscoll, Jim Munroe, James Schellenberg and Chris Szego. 2011

Science fiction, fantasy, comics, romance, genre movies and games all drain into the Cultural Gutter, a website dedicated to thoughtful articles about disreputable art—media and genres that are a little embarrassing. Irredeemable. Worthy of Note, but rolling like errant pennies back into the gutter. But the writers at the Cultural Gutter know that being canonized isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maligned genres and media allow for vital new ways of using old conventions and have more in common with high art, as itchy as that term makes us, than with respectable, middlebrow art. High art is often disdained as something a child could do, as mocking the audience, as degenerate, as trash. Gutter genres and media aren’t known for their subtlety. In fact, their obviousness and their barenakedness is why they’re destined to remain beneath the radar of serious culture — and why they continue to thrive. The Cultural Gutter is dangerous because we have a philosophy. We try to balance enthusiasm with clear-eyed, honest engagement with the material and with our readers. This book expands on our mission with 10 articles each from science fiction/fantasy editor James Schellenberg, comics editor and publisher Carol Borden, romance editor Chris Szego, screen editor Ian Driscoll and founding editor and former games editor Jim Munroe.

Available in print from Lulu and Amazon.com or in digital formats.

(Digital editions are not illlustrated)

 

Some kind words about The Cultural Gutter:

“Call it Pop Culture, call it Disposable Culture, call it Trash Culture. Whatever, it is OUR culture, and Carol Borden and company give it more than just geek love, they give it proper respect, in the form of considered opinion, deep analysis, and intelligent wit.”

John Crye
Creative Director, Newmarket Films

“I found the Cultural Gutter by accident, while I was trolling for information about an author who was successful, but not well-regarded by literary critics. I came back to the site regularly, because reading the Cultural Gutter is like attending a party where everyone is interesting, witty, and well-informed. I enjoy the articles both when I know nothing about the cultural artifact in question, and even more when I do.”

Lorna Toolis
Collection Head, Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy

“I rely on the Cultural Gutter’s dedication to getting down and dirty to sift through the refuse and debris of un-popular culture past, present and future on a regular basis.”

Colin Geddes
Midnight Madness and International Programmer, Toronto International Film Festival

 

The Cultural Gutter is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some sort of peril, a melodramatic plot and a title that ends in a question mark.  But there is another, related tradition that goes back further that I think we could place these films in.” (via Dr. Giallo)

    ~

    “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.

    ~

    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.”

    ~

    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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