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Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generationby Chris Turner
The best book yet about the most enduring television show of its generation. Chris Turner had me cracking up out loud, over and over again.
Synopses & Reviews
Planet Simpson is the first book to bring in-depth analysis to that most important pop-cultural institution of the last decade — Fox TV's The Simpsons — and use the show as a microcosm of the Western culture it has hilariously (and mercilessly) reflected and influenced. In an age of unprecedented transformation, "The Simpsons" alone has had the depth, intelligence, scope, and, most importantly, humor to chart the links between popular culture and the world we live in.
Planet Simpson is broken down into scathingly funny chapters analyzing each major character's relationship to different facets of the American character: Homer Simpson, the ultimate everyman of the American century; Lisa Simpson, the voice of the show's social conscience; Bart Simpson, punk icon; Marge Simpson, maternal voice of moral authority and anchor of Simpsons family values; C. Montgomery Burns, unchecked capitalism personified...and every bit character on down from Barney to Smithers to Krusty the Clown, coupled with intelligent, friendly, and entertaining analysis of the show's greater themes.
Going well beyond a critical discussion of a single television program, Planet Simpson will use The Simpsons as a window on the culture at large to deliver first-hand reportage of the Internet boom, the alternative-rock explosion, the triumph of irony, the cultural origins of anti-globalization, and other defining events and trends of our accelerated, confounding era.
"Although this unauthorized book 'was not prepared, licensed, approved, or endorsed by any entity involved in creating or producing' The Simpsons, Canadian journalist Turner embarks on an encyclopedic exposition of the show's episodes, catchphrases, characters, cultural impact, social commentary, themes and influences. In 1987, 33-year-old cartoonist Matt Groening devised the dysfunctional family during a 15-minute wait before pitching the concept to producer James L. Brooks. Short segments on Fox's Tracey Ullman Show escalated into the full series in 19891990, with accolades and awards piling up during the following 15 years. Turner flavors his straightforward Simpsons study with footnotes and facts on everything from Ayn Rand and Columbine to Y2K and Yeats. Unraveling and analyzing plot threads, he views the series as 'more anti-authoritarian by far than almost anything else that's ever aired in prime time,' and he praises it as a 'cultural institution' comparable to the Beatles. Turner's fannish enthusiasm and tsunami of trivia will appeal mainly to devotees, though cultural historians may value it for its vision of Springfield as a satirical mirror reflecting the trials and tribulations of contemporary life. Forecast: Although the show is past its heyday, diehard fans will gravitate to this like Homer to donuts." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Turner] offers detailed and trenchant analysis befitting academic geekdom, but he also freely and enthusiastically flys his fan-boy colors with favorite bits, episodes, and anecdotes." Library Journal
The pop culture satire The Simpsons gets a sprawling, multidimensional critical look at its beginnings in 1987 as a cartoon interlude on the Tracey Ullman Show through its evolution into a cultural institution.
As Comic Book Guy might say, this thorough examination of a pop culture phenomenon is 'Best. Simpson. Book. Ever.'-January magazine
D'oh-it's "The Simpsons." And here's the book with the behind-the-scenes story of how America's favorite nuclear family first arrived at a TV near you, how the series grew into a worldwide icon, and who brings it to life so brilliantly week after week, year after year. Since first airing in 1987 as a cartoon interlude on the short-lived "Tracey Ullman Show," "The Simpsons" has deliciously skewered the foibles of American life, evolving into a cultural institution that reaches across the generations. As satire, it's sharp and funny. As a pop phenom, it's in a league of its own. And with Planet Simpson, it finally gets the sprawling, multidimensional critical look it so richly deserves. "Smart and funny, Turner writes with fitting enthusiasm for his subject while working in seemly references to cultural theory and TV-insider politics. His book is just the thing for fellow fans, and for anyone interested in how pop phenomena came to be." -Hollywood Reporter This book was not prepared, licensed, approved, or endorsed by any entity involved in creating or producing the television series "The Simpsons."
About the Author
Chris Turner is an award-winning magazine journalist. His pop culture and technology reporting and essays for Shift magazine earned him six National Magazine Awards in the last three years. He is also a regular contributor of culture and technology reporting to Time and the Globe & Mail. Turner lives in Calgary.
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