In defense of our new geek overlords.
Rather than offering a superfan’s love letter to Lucasfilm, Jameson (99 Things to Do When You Have the Time, 2013, etc.) takes aim at the larger trends in entertainment media that Star Wars initiated. Geek art, whether involving sci-fi, fantasy, and/or superheroes, constitutes both a mindset and an aesthetic approach: the creation and consumption of imaginary new worlds with consistent internal logics. The author’s mission is not simply to tell the story of how a series of “geek milestones”—like The Matrix or the liberation of superheroes from the dustbin of 1960s comics—transformed once-isolated interests into mainstream blockbusters. He wants us to stop scoffing at video games, sci-fi novels, comic books, collectible figurines, gamer culture, and superhero movies and to re-evaluate them as legitimate, complex, uplifting, and profound art forms (with the corollary that we also hail the rise of nerdcentric movies as the latest generation of great American cinema). Jameson takes umbrage at decades of uptight movie reviewers who have dismissed the undeniable popularity of Star Wars, especially those who accused George Lucas of irrevocably skewing the entire film industry toward such childish pleasures as outlandish storylines and happy endings. The author rejects the dichotomy between realism and fantasy, arguing that Lucas showed how the exploits of aliens in a far-flung galaxy can be just as detailed and realistic as the grittiest new Hollywood flick. Jameson rhapsodizes about his analog adolescence and the uphill-both-ways struggle that was pre-internet geekdom, but his college essay–level arguments won’t win over those who sneer at the latest Marvel miniseries or balk at adult board games. Indeed, the book would probably most appeal to the group for which it is not written—i.e., his fellow fanatics, who probably know this stuff already but can never get enough.
A book that might prove useful to fellow gen-Xers who find themselves outside geek culture or those who have resisted the force of fantasy all these years but who now wish to learn what all the phantom menace is about.