Reckonings with the Pop Culture That Shapes Me
by Aisha Harris
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Pub Date 13 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 08 Aug 2023
“An incredible journey through pop culture’s enduring and indelible impact. Aisha Harris unpacks the ways that pop culture has shaped her own life, charting a course for the rest of us along the way. Brilliant, heartbreaking, and completely unforgettable. It blew me away.”
–SUSAN RIGETTI, author of Whistle Blower and Cover Story: A Novel
Aisha Harris has made a name for herself as someone you can turn to for a razor-sharp take on whatever show or movie everyone is talking about. Now, she turns her talents inward, mining the benchmarks of her nineties childhood and beyond to analyze the tropes that are shaping all of us, and our ability to shape them right back.
In the opening essay, an interaction with Chance the Rapper prompts an investigation into the origin myth of her name. Elsewhere, Aisha traces the evolution of the “Black Friend” trope from its Twainian origins
through to the heyday of the Spice Girls, teen comedies like Clueless, and sitcoms of the New Girl variety. And she examines the overlap of taste and identity in this era, rejecting the patriarchal ethos that you are what you like. Whatever the subject, sitting down with her book feels like hanging out with your smart, hilarious, pop culture–obsessed friend—and it’s a delight.
“Aisha Harris is one of our smartest, most entertaining modern cultural critics. The nine pieces offer insight on Stevie Wonder, the Spice Girls, Pen15, and New Girl—among many other pop artifacts, of course—which might as well be parlance for, ‘Read me immediately.’”
—ELLE, Most Anticipated Books, 2023
“Like many of us, Aisha's brain has been molded, sculpted, broken, busted, and reconfigured by pop culture. But what distinguishes her, and what makes Wannabe such a joy to read, is that she exists in the intersection of critic's critic and Black girl's Black girl--deconstructing what, how, and why we consume in concert with her progressive recognition that she never quite needed to find herself because she was always there. It's like if Nola Darling, Rob Gordon, and Nora Ephron had an atheist baby." — DAMON YOUNG, award-winning author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir In Essays
“Harris teases out the connections between her identity and her love of pop culture with wit and elan.” — THE MILLIONS, A Most Anticipated Book of 2023