The Cultural Gutter

we've seen things you people wouldn't believe

"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 Graveyard Shift Sisters, Carolyn looks at Lizzie Borden’s Born In Flames (1983) and the character, Adelaide Norris. “Born in Flames was revolutionary for its time, and I think it is still relevant today. This film has many layers, with both a speculative as well as a science fictional representation of a parallel universe that denies oppression. One of the main characters, Adelaide Norris played by Jean Satterfield, came to the forefront for me because of her race and role in the story. Adelaide is one of the key characters who pulls the female troops together. With the help of her mentor Zella, played by civil rights lawyer Flo Kennedy, this young Black and gay woman tirelessly researches, advises, and recruits women to fight the good fight for equality.”

    ~

    A video tribute to interactive VCR games including: Nightmare (1991), The Fisherman VCR Bible Game (1989), Rich Little’s Charades (1985), Wayne’s World VCR Game (1992), Star Trek: The Next Generation VCR Game (1995) and Skull and Crossbones (1988). (Thanks, Beth!)

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    At The Los Angeles Review Of Books, Suzannah Showler writes about the complexity of the reality tv show The Bachelor and her complicated love for it. “I love The Bachelor the way I love most things, which is to say: complicatedly. On the one hand, I think it’s a fascinating cultural product, one I find great delight in close-reading. But I also love it, frankly, because I just like watching it. I think it’s top-notch entertainment, and I will straight up hip-check my politics out of the way, and give up many hours of my life, in the name of being entertained.” (Via @idontlikemunday)

    ~

    At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims recounts that time the Punisher battled Dr. Doom. “It starts off with Dr. Doom kicking it in an extradimensional conference room set up by Loki to coordinate mass villainy, where he is just ripping into the Kingpin for being unable to kill the Punisher….Thus, in a sterling example of the ‘well then why don’t you do it’ school of super-villain cameraderie, Dr. Doom, a man who built a time machine in his basement, heads off to try his luck at fighting the Punisher, a man who has a gun. He does this, as you might expect, by luring him to a quarry and — after a brief exchange between a Doombot and a minigun — attempting to blow up his van with a tank.”

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    The Swiss Literary Archives have made their Patricia Highsmith collection available online here. (Thanks, Kate!)

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    Andy Kaufman has breakfast with Classie Freddie Blassie in My Breakfast With Blassie (1983) (via @GCDB)

    ~

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