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Using the Force: Creativity, Community and Star Wars Fans Hardcover – 1 Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (1 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826452876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826452870
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.3 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 822,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

."..both readable and informative...There is a lot for the Maul fan here" --Darth Maul Estrogen Brigade 2, 9/12/02

About the Author

Will Brooker is Assistant Professor in Communications at Richmond, the American International University in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kellifer Monkei on 9 July 2002
Format: Hardcover
Brooker begins his exploration of Star Wars fans by first detailing his own initial reactions and relation to the films; I feel this is how I should begin too.
I am not a huge Star Wars fan. I found myself scouring every line for something that made me feel at home in this community, though immediately, through empathy for the author's own childhood memories, I felt drawn. I found my niche alongside Emma Mepstead, quoted in chapter two as the girlfriend who had to watch SW 'as a clause of her engagement'.
I may have found SW at a later date than most my age, but it didn't mar my enjoyment of the book. In fact it's surprising how much of a fan you can become from just watching four/five films.
As a book about fans, an outsider may expect this to be 'geeky' but instead of finding yourself laughing at the 'comic book guys', you follow Brooker's insightful and informative guide to find yourself wondering how the Star Wars mythos has subconsciously affected you too.
The affects are on many levels and have created varied responses, which are documented in detail throughout the book. From a collection of toys that takes over the house, to an influence in career choice, even a moral code that works as guidance for an all-consuming faith.
While taking on an approach to the SW community similar to that of Louis Theroux on his weird weekends' program, Brooker tells us that 'the fan use of SW as inspirational escapism and a source of emotional guidance are anything but trivial.' Brooker's involvement in the research at a hands-on level, removes any chance of seeming condescending and a common affection for the films and Expanded Universe of SW gives him a more respectful tone than that of Theroux.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jacqui G on 2 July 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well written book offering plenty for the dedicated female Star Wars fan, as well as the males of that persuasion - this is not a discussion about military hardware or the handling characteristics of the Falcon. Well researched, but alas not complete. An in-depth review of fan-art, conventions and costuming would enhance any future editions enormously.
The ingenuity of fans in acting out and enjoying their obsession is made public, as they broadcast their interest on the Internet, and this book tells (almost) all in a witty and entertaining style.
Not a dry academic treatise, but interesting and uptodate coverage of that enduring phenomenon, Star Wars, and the fans celebration of it. Enough to interest me in Will Brooker's other books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on 5 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Speaking as someone who was interviewed for the book (Tim Meader of Chapter 2) I can honestly say that to see my mate Mark portrayed as possibly batting for the other team in international print is one of the greatest moments of my life. This book is wonderful.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barry Finnigan on 22 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
I was disappointed the author's research on the matter.
Using 100 emails from a popular web forum leaves many areas of Fandom unrepresented, and the viewpoint and general tone is unnecessarily hostile in too many of those emails quoted by the book as representative of fandom as a whole.
I was also hoping for a deeper delving into the Star Wars Aura, but the level of scholarship is on par with the popular web forum, and no unique information is given that was not previously available.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A pleasant change from the usual... 5 July 2002
By Lagniappe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Okay, we all know the stereotype - the nerd who is incapable of carrying on a conversation with the opposite sex, but is able to speak fluent Klingonese; the geek who can't shoot a basket to save his life, but who can personally reenact the final lightsaber duel from The Phantom Menace (complete with sound effects); the misfit who owns every Star Wars actionfigure ever produced, displayed on a set of shelves built into the walls of - wait for it - his parent's basement!
I give you the stereotypical science fiction/fantasy fan.
Only, stereotypes are an inch of fact and a mile of embellishment and conjecture. Are there fans that dress up like Mr. Spock and wave the V sign, telling you to "Live Long and Prosper"? Sure there are! Are there people who can do perfect imitations of a wizened, green puppet (and now CGI character) asking the Force to be with you? You bet!
However, such stereotypes are only a small portion of what encompasses fandom, but they are likely all that the non-fan (or "mundanes" as in the Harry Potter series) may envision, because it is upon the more flamboyant fans that the media so loves to shine their questionable spotlight. Yet, in truth, fandom is as varied as - well - "real life!". For every guy dressed as a Jedi and waving a plastic lightsaber at a Star Wars premiere, there is a family in jeans and t-shirts sitting down to share popcorn in the front row of the theater.
Perhaps most unfortunate of all is the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) suggestion of superiority on the part of the media covering fandom - the outsider studying some exotic, and not quite healthy, cultural phenomena and offering it up as an object of amusement if not outright derision for the "normal" masses.
I've heard the jokes and the put downs, repeatedly. I've come to expect it. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up William Brooker's study of Star Wars fandom. "Here we go again," I thought. "Someone who thinks they understand fandom and is going to tell us all about the "unhappy, socially inept fans who use science fiction and fantasy as a form of escapism from their sad, miserable little lives."
I was wrong. The first thing you should know about Will Brooker is that HE is a fan himself, and this gives him a unique perspective - not to mention it makes it more likely fellow fans will trust him enough to allow glimpses into aspects of their lives they have learned to keep secret to avoid ridicule. Brooker walks the walk and talks the talk. He respects his fellow fans and their views, and he presents them in a fair minded and non-judgmental light in his book, which makes for a pleasant change.
Furthermore, he discusses fandom from many angles, including those that are often overlooked or somewhat obscure and may not be familiar even to many that consider themselves Star Wars fans. Do the terms PWP, EU, "gusher" and "Space Wheat" mean anything to you? They will once you have read this book, and some of the insights you discover may surprise you. Brooker covers such topics as women in fandom. How do they view the Star Wars universe, and how do their reactions and expectations differ from those of the men who tend to dominate science fiction? What about creative expression in fandom? When fans use George Lucas' characters and universe to inspire their own flights of fancy, whether it be through short films, writing or art work, is this a form of homage to Lucas or a blatant disregard for legal copyright laws, or both? How did fans react to The Phantom Menace? Was it a disaster or a glorious success, or a little of each?
So who should read this book? Everyone! Non-fans should read it to gain an insight into fandom. Fans are not simply some exotic creatures you only see dressed in Jedi robes on the news coverage of a Star Wars premier. Fans include the teacher in your child's classroom, the vet who takes care of your dog, the guy who programmed your business software, the kid down the street who mows your lawn, and the Air force meteorologist. They are people like you, and, yes, like me - I am a fan and proud of it.
Fans should read to gain a broader view of the myriad aspects of fandom and the response people have to the Star Wars phenomena. As Brooker points out, Star Wars fandom is a dynamic, complex entity. Many fans don't even agree on issues covered in this book. However, for the most part, they do speak a common language that allows for immediate recognition and a sense of inclusion in a world where fans often feel excluded. Even when they disagree, there is a sense of community - a community Brooker knows well.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A biased review 10 May 2002
By Jennifer Pelland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm admittedly biased, as my web site is mentioned in this book, and I'm mentioned by name a few times in the chapter on "Slash and Other Stories," but this is a really good book. It's a respectful, honest, and entertaining look at Star Wars fandom today. It covers everything from group viewings, to arguments over what constitutes canon, to fanfic, to fan films, and more. I had to skip the "Speculation" chapter because after only two paragraphs, I'd gotten some pretty huge honking spoilers on Ep 2, but I'll go back and read it on May 17th. The author himself is a fan, so that most likely contributes to the respectful, fun tone of this book. It's not complete by any means, and there are some major omissions that caused me to only give this a four star rating instead of a five, but still, Star Wars fans looking to read a good analysis of our culture should definitely check this out.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A superbly entertaining book... 28 Jun. 2002
By Jacqui G - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A well written book offering plenty for the dedicated female Star Wars fan, as well as the males of that persuasion - this is not a discussion about military hardware or the handling characteristics of the Falcon. Well researched, but alas not complete. An in-depth review of fan-art, conventions and costuming would enhance any future editions enormously.
The ingenuity of fans in acting out and enjoying their obsession is made public, as they broadcast their interest on the Internet, and this book tells (almost) all in a witty and entertaining style.
Not a dry academic treatise, but interesting and uptodate coverage of that enduring phenomenon, Star Wars, and the fans celebration of it. Enough to interest me in Will Brooker's other books.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
SW Community 21 Aug. 2002
By john kersten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A great book for appreciating the various outlets of current Star Wars fandom. While offering little serious academic discourse, the book does put into print many issues which to this point have been limited to internet discussion and fan zines, such as LFL's strict licesing enforcement, the culture of message board discussion, fan fiction and films. In the end it stands as an interesting catalog of current happenings in the world of Star Wars fandom, as seen from an insider who respects the devotion of a unique community.
Excellent Piece of Ethnographic Research 2 Nov. 2012
By Dr. Laurence Raw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who does not understand the cultural impact of STAR WARS since the first of the franchise was released in 1977 should read this book. Based on extensive interviews, e-mail communications, and other exchanges with fans of the franchise, this book shows the ways in which individual fans have consumed, and continue to consume the films, as a way of defining their identities. An entertaining read as well as a theoretically important text for anyone interested in film audience studies.
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