Snippets From SXSW Interactive 2003

Why I Dig Working in the Cultural Gutter

Monday, March 10, 3:30-4:30pm
Jim Munroe noticed a certain disdain at cocktail parties when told people he wrote science-fiction. Cory Doctorow could go him one worse: "I write sci-fi aimed at slash-dot readers," he said, "and that's something even sci-fi writers look down on." And as for Elise, the Ph.D. turned porn star and erotica author, well it's no wonder that she tells people she writes "true-life adventure stories." They work in the cultural gutter (a term coined by Monroe for this panel). But, as panelist and game designer Karl Deckard asked, "Who are these people who look down their nose at us, and why do we care?" The discussion that followed was lively, if disjointed, with many in the audience eager to share their thoughts on why the fringe isn't such a bad place to be. Leather fetishists, Trekkies, gamers, Ren Fair junkies unite! "Bright, interesting people have always found bright, interesting things to do," said one audience member, who compared today's alternative entertainment to yesterday's rock music and punk rock. Some pointed to the irony that porn and gaming, despite a lack of industry respectability, remain two of the most profitable entertainment markets. "As a society, we haven't accepted the fact that we fantasize this way," said Munroe. But maybe being a guttersnipe is half the fun, after all, and the gutter may be the best place to thrive.

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