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Politics, craft, and cultural nostalgia in the remaking of Star Wars for a new age
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away—way back in the twenty-first century’s first decade—Star Wars seemed finished. Then in 2012 George Lucas shocked the entertainment world by selling the franchise, along with Lucasfilm, to Disney. This is the story of how, over the next five years, Star Wars went from near-certain extinction to what Wired magazine would call “the forever franchise,” with more films in the works than its first four decades had produced.
Focusing on The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One (2016), The Last Jedi (2017), and the television series Rebels (2014–18), Dan Golding explores the significance of pop culture nostalgia in overcoming the skepticism, if not downright hostility, that greeted the Star Wars relaunch. At the same time he shows how Disney, even as it tapped a backward-looking obsession, was nonetheless creating genuinely new and contemporary entries in the Star Wars universe.
A host of cultural factors and forces propelled the Disney-engineered Star Wars renaissance, and all figure in Golding’s deeply informed analysis: from John Williams’s music in The Force Awakens to Peter Cushing’s CGI face in Rogue One, to Carrie Fisher’s passing, to the rapidly changing audience demographic. Star Wars after Lucas delves into the various responses and political uses of the new Star Wars in a wider context, as in reaction videos on YouTube and hate-filled, misogynistic online rants. In its granular textual readings, broad cultural scope, and insights into the complexities of the multimedia galaxy, this book is as entertaining as it is enlightening, an apt reflection of the enduring power of the Star Wars franchise.
Dan Golding is lecturer in media and communications at the Swinburne University of Technology and an award-winning writer with more than two hundred international publications. He is cohost of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV show What Is Music and the producer of the soundtrack to Push Me Pull You. He is coauthor of Game Changers: From Minecraft to Misogyny, the Fight for the Future of Videogames and has written for popular and web-based publications such as Kotaku, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, IGN, and The Conversation.
"Star Wars is almost too big a subject for any one mind to grasp, but Dan Golding’s look at how the franchise maintains its nostalgic glow in the Disney era stays on target, excavating the unique combination of art and commerce that holds Star Wars together."—Adam Rogers, senior tech correspondent at Insider
"Star Wars after Lucas is a useful and welcome review of the past four decades of Star Wars, as well as the strategies that corporations are increasingly adopting in order to perpetuate franchises. In particular, Dan Golding aptly describes Lucasfilm's struggles to balance nostalgic appeals with a growing commitment to diversity and inclusivity."—A. D. Jameson, author of I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture
"Dan Golding’s wonderful book strikes a perfect balance between criticism and knowledgeable fandom. Approaching Disney-era Star Wars, his writing provides important insights into the workings of nostalgia culture, transmedia storytelling, and the power of transnational media industries in the age of global capitalism. His readings of individual Star Wars texts are thoughtful, nuanced, and theoretically informed, while at the same time relating them back to the complexities of branding, cross-platform marketing, and global entertainment franchising. Star Wars after Lucas is essential reading for anyone with an interest in media franchising, globalization, media industries, and entertainment in the Disney era."—Dan Hassler-Forest, coeditor of Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling
"Star Wars after Lucas is a spirited and often convincing defense of the saga’s ‘complex and multifaceted’ content. "—Shepherd Express
"Anyone fascinated by the post-George Lucas Star Wars universe will find Dan Golding’s Critical Guide to the Future of the Galaxy an essential read. Focusing on The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and Star Wars Rebels, Golding crafts an insightful, smart analysis."—The Film Stage
"Feminist progressives see in the galaxy a courageous human rights defense that stands for inclusivity, community, and individuality. Star Wars after Lucas demonstrates thoroughly and importantly how the legacy franchise has maintained its reflective glow in the Disney era.
"Golding is insightful on the politics of Star Wars. “Despite its political malleability,” he writes, “Star Wars has, for better or worse, gained a general whiff of cultural conservatism.” That stems, he suggests, from the fact that the retro escapism of the original trilogy seemed of a piece with the political winds that gave two White House terms to a former actor who struck a genial, paternal mien while enacting brutally regressive policies."—The Tangential
"Golding has managed to provide a book that is clear in its intentions of examining the Star Wars franchise in the years since it made the transition to a giant media conglomerate. The significance of nostalgia is interwoven throughout and provides a detailed yet broad exploration into how it has both impacted and been implemented into the long-running franchise."—Leonardo Reviews
"When Golding surrounds the new Star Wars media with the pop culture, political, and digital factors that shaped it, it’s clear to readers that Star Wars is not a fluke, nor an outlier in modern American media: it’s the center of it. Scholars of contemporary film and media studies or any fan of the iconic franchise will enjoy this look into how a down and out narrative circled back to win the hearts of America once again."—CBQ: Communication Booknotes Quarterly
"Golding’s book both succeeds as an investigation of Star Wars in the Disney era and performs the limitations such investigations necessarily entail, it provides a useful and necessary account of contemporary, popular entertainment."—SFRA Review