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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

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When I started writing my most recent book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture, I wanted to make an argument about aesthetics. Namely, I wanted to argue that when it comes to art, geeks tend to like works of realist fantasy, which puts the lie to the widespread belief that realism and fantasy are opposites. (They’re not: realism is a mode, or way of making art, while fantasy is a genre; any genre can be done in any mode.)

As I worked on the book, however, I realized that people were just as interested, if not more interested, in the history of geek culture. Whenever I told people what I was doing, they said that they hoped the book would explain why geeky stuff is everywhere these days—why it’s taken over the culture. Why are all the movies at the Cineplex superhero movies? Why is everyone talking about Game of Thrones? Why is it now considered OK, or mostly OK, for adults to read Harry Potter novels and comic books? So I knew I needed to write about that, too.

As it turned out, this wasn’t a problem, because the two topics are intimately intertwined. Indeed, you can’t understand the history of geek culture without also grasping its aesthetics.

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Marvel vs DC

Some people say that Superman is boring because he’s too powerful. Who could beat him in a fight? No one. He’s stronger and faster than everybody else, on top of which he can fly, see through walls, hear people whisper from halfway around the world, fire laser beams from his eyes, freeze things with his breath—plus he’s nigh indestructible, to boot. There’s practically nothing he can’t do. He can survive direct hits from nukes, and bathe in the sun without breaking a sweat. And since no one can beat him, the thinking goes, Superman, the Man of Steel, is never really in any danger, which means his stories lack peril, tension, suspense. There aren’t any stakes. There’s no thrill.

But to think about Superman this way misunderstands not only the character, but the superhero genre as a whole—what makes it unique, and what type of stories it’s best suited to tell. Worse still, this misunderstanding obscures the genre’s historical limitations, as well as how artists might transcend those limitations in the future.

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Five years ago, I started writing a book on geek culture, trying to explain why geeky properties like Star Wars and Harry Potter and the X-Men blew up around the turn of the millennium, and haven’t gone away since. In writing the book, I came to believe that a lot of the stories that we tell ourselves about geeks and Star Wars are wrong, and that the rise of geek culture can teach us a great deal about how movies and TV have changed over the past forty years. My goal became to write a book that would explain these changes to both geeks and non-geeks, as well as to explain what it is that geeks are looking for, and why.

That book, I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture, is finally out, available both electronically and in print. An audiobook version is also in the works, if you prefer that. (You can listen to an excerpt here.)

I’ve pasted more information about the book below, and in the coming days I’ll post links to reviews and interviews. In the meantime, thank you for your interest! If you check the book out, I’d love to hear what you think!

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