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Sunday, October 27, 2019

I FIND YOUR LACK of FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS and the TRIUMPH of GEEK CULTURE (audiobook) by A.D. Jameson



Published in May of 2018 by Macmillan Audio.
Duration: 6 hours, 58 minutes.
Read by Holter Graham.
Unabridged.


A.D. Jameson is a student of cinema - not just science fiction and fantasy movies, but of cinema in general. I used the word "student" in the previous sentence carefully because he is not just a fan of movies, he studies the directors, the movements and the ideas behind the movies.


Photo by DWD
But, he is also a proud geek - a fan of sci-fi and fantasy literature and movies. Like me, he was really into those genres in middle and high school, moved away from them for a while during and after college and then came back to them in a big way when the Star Wars "Special Edition" movies were released.

My own children do not believe me, but there was once a time when the mere sight of a Star Wars t-shirt or bumper sticker was worthy of comment. Now, they are everywhere. My family probably owns more than 20 Star Wars-related t-shirts alone.

A.D. Jameson explores how this happened by focusing on the world of cinema and television. He argues that Star Trek, not the original run on NBC but the re-run episodes running night after night, day after day until everyday, normal TV viewers got used to the idea of spaceships and aliens. When Star Trek was starting to fizzle out, Star Wars came in and made a big splash - the biggest splash in movie history up to that point. When the Star Wars phenomenon started to fade away, Star Trek came back with the movies and then with four different TV shows that spanned 18 years. Many of those shows aired every day (sometimes multiple times per day) because they were syndicated.

Star Wars came back with the troubled (but immensely successful) prequel series. X-Men movies started coming out - another troubled franchise, but it has been going on for 19 years! The Lord of the Rings movies and suddenly it seemed like every movie was a sci-fi, fantasy or a comic book movie.

As I mentioned, Jameson focuses on TV and especially cinema, spending a lot of time arguing that Star Wars fits perfectly well in with its peers from the time period like Bonnie and Clyde and The Godfather. He makes a compelling argument, one that would undoubtedly be argued against by Martin Scorsese when you consider the ruckus he has kicked up with his comments about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  While I was interested in all of this exploration of cinema, the book title gives the reader the impression that "geek culture" was going to be explored in a meaningful way. Culture is more than movies. I assumed that the book was going to explore how we went from being a culture where sci-fi and fantasy were fringe movements in everyday life to the point where the truck in the picture I posted with this review is driven around in central Indiana, but it is largely unexplored.

His comments on Star Trek and its influence on culture as a beacon to where we might one day end up as a society (more open, more accepting) were quite good. It occurred to me that among my many behavioral role models are Jesus and Jean-Luc Picard - and those two don't clash with one another at all.

The audiobook was well-read by Holter Graham. He did such a good job at sounding like he was into the topic that I actually assumed that the author was self-narrating the book until I checked.

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5. I have to take off a star for mostly failing to address one of the themes mentioned in the title. Still, it is a good book. It can be found on Amazon.com here: I FIND YOUR LACK of FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS and the TRIUMPH of GEEK CULTURE by A.D. Jameson.

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