“A weekly video essay series that puts ideas to work.” That’s the idea behind The Nerdwriter, my latest and greatest Youtube subscription. I stumbled upon the channel after seeing its excellent video review of ‘Children of Men’, one of my favorite movies ever made (and arguably a very important movie for today, but that’s an article for another time). The review is part of a series that Nerdwriter runs called ‘Understanding Art’, and examines many kinds of media from an exceptionally concise critical perspective.
Just looking at the review of ‘Children of Men’, Nerdwriter does an excellent job of identifying themes – not only how they relate to current events, but also the movie’s innumerable cultural and historical allusions. Deconstructing art in this way is a thoroughly enjoying experience to watch, and the channel often goes one step further to argue a powerful interpretation of the work at hand. The experience then goes beyond enjoyment and allows for a far more cerebral understanding of the art.
Although most of these essays discuss films (since the channel’s host studied film in college), that’s not the only medium discussed. There are remarkably insightful readings of acclaimed poems, and discussions about paintings that have honestly reinvigorated my interest in classical art. There’s a particularly fantastic interpretation of William Butler Yeats’ Leda and the Swan that I’d be remiss not to recommend.
Nerdwriter isn’t just good at picking art apart – he’s a true Renaissance man, thinking critically about every facet of his essays. Even better, just about every one of his essays includes a bibliography for further reading and citation. All of this culminates in level of quality I’ve never seen before from a Youtube channel. Considering that the channel has now burst to over a million subscribers, I’m not the only one who thinks this.
Really though, that’s what I love about Nerdwriter’s channel. This is content that I would have loved when I was younger – it’s informative, engaging, thought-provoking, and has a universal love for learning. Indeed, even if we know when art is good, we can’t always justify exactly why. But Nerdwriter and channels like his helps us to better understand the work at hand, and in doing so, help us to understand ourselves.