PERFORMING ARTS

Star Wars: The Triumph of Nerd Culture

Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781538116203. $35. FILM
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The “triumph” of this work’s title refers to the ousting of Star Wars creator George Lucas from his own empire for betraying fans’ trust. 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. He also discusses the “loveless and sexless relationships” in Lucas’s films, aligning that trait with Lucas’s personal life so often that the text feels like slander. Finally, if this book truly represents nerd culture, Benson should not have said the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel run in six parsecs; it was “less than 12.”
VERDICT A slight, unnecessary look at cultural divisions between a creator and his creations.

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