This compilation of essays provides looks at the seedy underbelly of Western/American popular culture. Each author examines how a twisted portrayal of Nazis in popular culture has become an industry standard within their own area of expertise, from the 60s era torture porns to current mainstream outlets. There seems to be no end of WWII coverage in the United States, but this collection offers a different approach. Rather than making a case for the historical accuracy or inaccuracy of the characters and events they portray, the authors examine these tropes as products of their time - pieces of our culture that reflect the anxieties and atmospheres from which they came. There is no doubt that the works in question are sleazy (at best), so the question is not an argument over their artistic merit, but what their existence means. Why do we keep recreating and exploiting the atrocities of the WWII? Is there a pattern? What does it say about us? Those are the questions at the heart of this collection.
Taken as a whole, Monsters in the Mirror makes up one of the first published works that attempts to draw on all aspects of mass media to create a fuller picture of the pervasiveness of this Nazi image. These essays cover five main genres – literature analysis, sexual theory, the study of pornography, mainstream film analysis, and fashion studies. That said, I found some more interesting than others, but I suspect that’s dependant on your own personal interests. I used many of the essays to support my grad school thesis while others had little to do with my topic (and I didn’t spend much time on them). While the coverage is far from exhaustive, it is notable for providing a new approach to what is probably the most heavily covered topic in US history. Read as a starting point for further research, this collection is quite impressive and, I’m sure, controversial.