End of the Road
With Culture Ramp‘s brief run drawing to a close, the editor examines the reasons it was never likely to succeed in the first place.
Forging a Path
The arts and criticism can contribute to deliberate culture, but they must first foster a more vibrant, inclusive conversation.
Last Chance for Gas
If publishing is one way we build a culture worth having, it’s imperative that we find a reliable way of paying for vital and thoughtful writing.
The coming generation of consoles may be the last gasp for the Age of Refinement, and with it, the opportunity for gamers to take control of their culture.
Ramping down, the editor takes stock of the three departments that defined Culture Ramp and draws some lessons for the future.
Django Plays His Part
Lulled by the retelling of the legend of Siegfried, we may have missed something remarkable: Quentin Tarantino’s most morally subversive character yet.
The Audience’s Revenge
How did we come to believe that Django Unchained was a revenge movie? By all outward appearances, all Django wanted was his freedom and his wife.
Django and Genre
Quentin Tarantino has his revenge on the myth of the American West.
By directing our attention away from the South, the classical Western genre may have indulged a blind-spot in American history. Django Unchained turns us back on the path.
What It’s Like To Play Gorogoa
In how it bends space and time, Gorogoa demonstrates the sort of puzzle that would be all but impossible in a physical medium.
What It’s Like to Play Planescape: Torment
Starting a new life is more than just an act of creation. It’s also an investigation into what went wrong the times before.
Christmas Is A Big Commercial Racket
In 1965, Charles Schulz delivered a heartfelt plea for authenticity. In its thorny relationship to corporate interests, A Charlie Brown Christmas reflects the complexity of our own relationship to the holiday.
What It’s Like To Play Team Fortress 2
Calling some games “first-person shooters” misdirects our attention. Understanding how they can be fun may mean looking beyond the violence and the subjective point-of-view.
Frogtown Hollow Blues
What do fans of a Christmas special do when changes in format and ownership disrupt a holiday tradition? In the age of the digital revolution, they edit.
What It’s Like to Play
How do you write about video games for an audience that doesn’t play them? Four writers, four games—four chances to connect.
In the weird and goofy genre of holiday television specials, tradition becomes an occasion for counterculture subversion.
Coming Out In Christmastown
Since its first broadcast in 1964, Rankin-Bass’ TV special Rudolph has built a cult following in the LGBT community. Saving it from its own era has always been an act of intervention.
The End of the Affair
When it comes to the history and future of publishing on the Web, following the money reveals a story that looks strikingly like a tale of tainted love.
The Style of the Web
Some say The New York Times’ “very mean and very funny” review of a Guy Fieri restaurant is better suited to the dignity of a blog. But traffic has never been a matter of dignity.
The Substance of the Web
Almost from the moment it was coined, the meaning of the word “blog” has been up for grabs. After fifteen years of cultural change on the Web, it may have finally ceased to mean anything at all.
Flying Off the Presses
Sophisticated tools like WordPress are the online platform of choice for many traditional publishers. For culture hawks, that makes blogging an internal threat.
What does it mean to publish online in an era when traditional media titans rely on the same tools as bedroom bloggers?
The Heart of a Killing Machine
When The Terminator sparked concerns over onscreen violence, a remarkably expressive score by Brad Fiedel helped the film transcend its own bleak vision of the future.
The Synclavier and Fairlight CMI added samples to the composer’s palette. With David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, they also suggested a future with no clear distinction between virtual and real.
“Cheap and fast” is how John Carpenter describes his musical process. Collaborator and unsung hero Dr. Daniel Wyman tells how Carpenter’s idiosyncratic vision created some of the most unnerving themes in horror.