Nerd: Adventures in Fandom from this Universe to the Multiverse

Atria. Jul. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781982165772. $27. FILM
New York Times critic Phillips’s (Erou) enjoyable essay collection delves into the world of animation, TV series, and pop culture from the 1990s to today. Analyzing and critiquing the mostly 1990s fare, Phillips explores how Saturday morning cartoons have changed over the decades since the introduction of Ren and Stimpy and SpongeBob SquarePants and the effects of being able to stream entire TV series in one sitting. Beginning with the beloved 1993 cult film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, she surveys the rise of superheroes, nerds, and fandoms (both the good and bad aspects). Star Wars and Harry Potter get a look, as does the antihero mythology. Exploring racial and national identities, she notes Afro Samurai as an example of feudal Japan merging with Black culture. Black Panther along with Get Out receive due credit for their contributions to pop culture, as does the British import Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
VERDICT Hardcore fans will enjoy the analysis while new viewers will find a wealth of ideas.
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