Friday, February 15, 2013

Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation

[August 2009] This is easily one of the most entertaining audiobooks I have listened to in a long time. The book is filled with quotes from the Simpson, and the narrator does great Simpson impersonations. The narrative has a seemingly endless number of anecdotes from Simpson's episodes (all referenced by episode number.) To a fan of the show, these references bring back fond memories. The book excels when it operates as a Simpsons fan companion.

Unfortunately, it falls flat when it tries to dig deeper. The arguments come across as those from a serious fan of the show trying to justify it's importance by placing it in external paradigms. Many of the arguments could easily be applied to just about any other aspect of pop culture. (The Fruit Loops Generation?) The insight that pop culture has become a strong identifying factor in a fragmenting society is interesting, but by no means original. The strange irony is that a corporate entity is needed to provide a unifying force for a youth culture rebelling against the corporatism of society. For a Simpsons fan like the author, Simpsons serves as that force, and the thesis of this book will apply. However, for others, including those that have a shared interest in the Simpsons and other things, the argument falls flat.

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