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Posts tagged: Cultural Gutter

At The Gutter: You Really Should Have Given Up

Screen Editor alex considers a little more about willpower and when to give up.

I’m still thinking about willpower from my last article, and while it’s true that ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ (as my Grandma used to call it) is an important skill, it also really helps to know when to bail. Oddly, even though the desire to give up comes pretty naturally, deciding when you should actually do it doesn’t seem to. Watching the things that have made me and the people I care about unhappy in our lives over the years, I feel like learning how and when to walk away can’t be overrated.

I think maybe we’ve been sucked into seeing our lives through the narrative lens of movies where the characters almost always get something good in the end for sticking with it. We’ve seen it happen so many times it’s hard not to believe that if we just work long and hard enough we’ll win the prize, but in my experience the real-life ratio on that is significantly skewed towards failure. I’m not trying to crush anyone’s dreams – if it’s important to you and you believe you have a shot, then you should take it – I just think that we’re often not very good at being realistic about what our chances are or how much we’ll end up having to pay.

At The Gutter: Fly, Darna, Fly!

Comics Editor Carol writes about the Filipina superhero Darna and 1970s film adaptations of her stories. With special guest stars Mars Ravelo, Nestor Redondo, Roger Corman and Francis Ford Coppola!

Last February, Todd Stadtman and Tars Tarkas invited me on the Infernal Brains podcast to discuss space ladies with them. We covered a lot of films, but I didn’t get to one film Todd suggested we watch, Darna Vs. The Planet Women (1975). I finally did recently and he was so right—Darna Vs. The Planet Women was a movie I needed to see. Since then, I’ve watched Darna And The Giants (1973) and Darna At Ding/Darna And Ding (1980). And these movies bring together so many fine things: a costumed comic book superhero, space ladies, supernatural creatures, black magic robots, disco fabulousness and the sassiness of Vilma Santos’ Darna.

At The Gutter: A Halting Fire

SF/F Editor Keith watches Halt And Catch Fire and hopes for a little more.

In the season one finale of AMC’s new series Halt and Catch Fire, the builders of the Cardiff Electric portable Giant computer gather around a conference table to read an unenthusiastically positive review of their new product. It is an unwitting apt reflection of my reaction to the show in general. What was touted, or at least what was expected to be, 1980s Mad Men with Computers ended up being just good enough to get me through the season relatively satisfied, but it never really clicks. It’s primary problem for me is the same problem I have with a number of shows: it is unwilling to commit to any emotion beyond reserved grimness.

Nothing good can ever happen to the sad sack quartet of Joe McMillan (Lee Pace), Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis), Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), or Donna Clark (Kerry Bishe). Every minor victory, every shred of happiness these four might attain in their quest to build a portable clone of an IBM computer in the wild, early days of microcomputing, must be countered by a sledgehammer negative consequence. Every tiny victory must be followed the very next scene by a mental breakdown, a betrayal, a professional disaster, or even just a bloody kitchen accident. It soars past Shakespeare into the territory of pure Greek tragedy as each Sunday night, vengeful gods strive to grind these four people into oblivion, and along with them, the viewers.

At The Gutter: Stories Are Important

SF/F Editor Emeritus James Schellenberg returns with a guest star piece about the novels of Carrie Vaughn.

Stories are important, we all know this. I hasten to add: and they should be fun too, otherwise why bother reading them? Every once in a while, I run across a new author that balances “something to say” and “have fun saying it” in a way that really appeals to me. This year, that author has been Carrie Vaughn.

At The Gutter: Stale Candy, Punk Rock, Failure, Assimilation and Punisher: War Zone

This week, Carol watches Punisher: War Zone and thinks about what it means to be “good,” what it means to fail, and what it means when your community succeeds.

I’m not arguing for a kind of absolute relativism here, in which if I like or enjoyed Punisher: War Zone it’s good. I’m not arguing that for a lot of reasons, the most important being that the converse is sketchy as hell: dislike = bad. That’s a corrosive line of thinking. At the most basic level, I know that “dislike” “bad” because there is art I dislike even while knowing it’s good. But I can appreciate and even learn from it. The greater geek/nerd/fan community tends to smooth over differences by saying that we respect each other’s likes, that if you like something there must be something good about it, while at the same time organizing around liking the same things, creating canons and having a lot of received wisdom about what is good or bad–like my repairmans’s assertion, “Wonder Woman is a bad character.”
But people can like the same thing, superheroes in general or the Punisher in particular, for instance, without liking it the same way, in the same form or the same thing about it. A huge chunk of the whole fake geek girl thing is as much about “You’re liking it wrong” or “You like the wrong thing about it” as it is just plain sexism**. And when your tacit understanding about what makes something good or bad generally comes down to labeling things good and bad, it’s hard to notice when you are tacitly arguing against diversity–like my repairman, who has felt so deprived for so long that he doesn’t recognize he’s not losing something by not getting everything. There can be grim and dark movies like Nolan’s Batman, shiny colorful movies like The Avengers and crazy-ass odes to campy, comic book violence like Punisher: War Zone–even scruffy action like Machete Kills, The Raid and the Fast & Furious movies.
Only 14 hours left in the Gutterthon. (Thanks to @DrMattFinch for the sweet art)/

Only 14 hours left in the Gutterthon. (Thanks to @DrMattFinch for the sweet art)/

Juggernaut is just one of the five supervillain pin-ups in the Sexy Supervillain postcard set available as a Gutterthon perk. He was drawn by Evan Munday and you can give him a new home while supporting thoughtful writing about disreputable art by donating to the Cultural Gutter’s indiegogo campaign here. Only 3 days left!

Juggernaut is just one of the five supervillain pin-ups in the Sexy Supervillain postcard set available as a Gutterthon perk. He was drawn by Evan Munday and you can give him a new home while supporting thoughtful writing about disreputable art by donating to the Cultural Gutter’s indiegogo campaign here. Only 3 days left!

General Zod plays without a safe word in this supervillain pin-up by Evan Munday. It’s included in our Gutterthon fundraiser's Sexy Supervillain postcard set.
There’s only about a week left to donate. If you like our work, please consider donating. You’ll help us out and get a sweet perk, too.

General Zod plays without a safe word in this supervillain pin-up by Evan Munday. It’s included in our Gutterthon fundraiser's Sexy Supervillain postcard set.

There’s only about a week left to donate. If you like our work, please consider donating. You’ll help us out and get a sweet perk, too.

Carnival and Clairvoyance: Why Casino Royale (’67) is Your New Favourite Bond

Carnival and Clairvoyance: Why Casino Royale (’67) is Your New Favourite Bond

Gutter Guest Star Matt Finch shares his favorite Bond film at Of Inhuman Bond Age: “Right at the start of Casino Royale, an alliance of world powers attacks the mansion of our hero, James Bond, an ageing World War I veteran. (Perpetually 35-ish no more.) Only such drastic invasion of privacy can motivate Britain’s happily retired super-spy to take on one last mission. David Niven plays this…

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Thanos looking sassier than usual in this image from the Gutterthon Sexy Supervillain postcard set. It was conceived and drawn by artist and writer Evan Munday. There are still a couple of sets available to claim. Help keep the Gutter going and get five Sexy Supervillains up to no good!

Thanos looking sassier than usual in this image from the Gutterthon Sexy Supervillain postcard set. It was conceived and drawn by artist and writer Evan Munday. There are still a couple of sets available to claim. Help keep the Gutter going and get five Sexy Supervillains up to no good!