Star Wars: The Triumph of Nerd Culture engagingly reveals how the most popular film franchise of all time sprang from the mind of a deeply insecure nerd, who then inspired and betrayed a generation of fans.
In Star Wars: The Triumph of Nerd Culture, Josef Benson offers an unauthorized and provocative expose of the most popular film franchise of all time. Fueled by George Lucas’s insecurities and a fervent fan-base who felt betrayed when Lucas defiled the original films, Benson presents the conflict between Lucas and Star Wars fans as comparable to the twisted relationship between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Just as there is a riveting saga within the Star Wars universe that centers on the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker and the redemption of Darth Vader, so too has a saga unfolded in relation to George Lucas and Star Wars fandom.
Star Wars fans both love and hate Star Wars and George Lucas. He is equally responsible for their pleasure and pain. Star Wars:The Triumph of Nerd Culture delves deeper into the Star Wars universe than any book has gone before, including an illuminating look into why Lucas sold Lucasfilm to the Disney Corporation and how the sale affected the franchise. After reading this book, fans will never be able to watch Star Wars in the same way again.
Josef Benson is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Parkside. He is the author of Hypermasculinities in the Contemporary Novel: Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin (2014) and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye: A Cultural History (2018).
Prologue: The Triumph of Nerd Culture
Chapter 1: Aren’t You a Little Short for a Stormtrooper?
Chapter 2: These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For
Chapter 3: I Have a Bad Feeling about This
Chapter 4: A Great Disturbance in the Force
Chapter 5: I Am Altering the Deal
Chapter 6: This Is the Way
Conclusion: The Cycle Is Complete
A well-researched history of the complicated relationships between the architect of Star Wars, George Lucas, and his contemporaries, his creations, and the fans . . . A brief overview of science fiction fandom, from publisher Hugo Gernsback to fan fiction, slash fiction, and the concept of canon is helpful, as is the exploration of the way Lucas' success licensing merchandise changed the landscape. Benson also draws connections between Lucas' films and his insecurity as an outsider and his conflict between commerce and artistic integrity. Most compelling is the exploration of the complicated relationship between producers and fans, and readers from any fandom will find much of interest.
Benson traces Lucas’s transformation from the nerdy director of avant-garde films like 1971’s THX-1138 into the consummate studio mogul who, in 2012, sold his series to Disney for more than $4 billion. In this context, Lucas’s protracted battle with Star Wars fans over control of his films’ legacy emerges as both a repudiation of his nerdy roots and an all-too-nerdy appeal for attention and affirmation.
Benson (English, Univ. of Wisconsin-Parkside) provides Lucas’s biography, tracking his entrepreneurial spirit through film school to relationships with like-minded directors Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, and his early films THX 1138 and American Graffiti. Lucas believed his films succeeded because of him, so when fans turned against him—specifically with the Star Wars prequels and revisions to the original trilogy—he took it as a personal disavowal, leading to the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. Benson examines the wide breadth of Star Wars fan fiction and draws parallels between Lucas and Darth Vader, who, according to him, both betrayed their initial paths to achieve power.