This past week, everything in the geek and sci-fi media has been about the Star Wars news coming out of the big celebration in California. I grew up on Star Wars and so I’ve been excited to see where the franchise goes for a long time. I’ve always loved the world, the characters and the technology, and I was really excited by the prequels when they were announced back in the late 90s.
But, I need to address one thing that kinda bugs me about Star Wars fandom lately, which is the intense hatred of the prequels. I’m one of those rare folks who will actually admit that they enjoyed Episode 1-3. I have a lot of fond memories of Episode 1 because it came out days after my first son was born, and we nervously left our child with his grandparents to quickly sneak out and see a movie so soon after he was born.
I’m don’t pretend that the prequels weren’t without their faults, but I think that too many fans judged them by an unfair standard of the “haze of childhood memory”. The original trilogy has been held up in geekdom as the absolute best thing since the creation of the first video game, as if these movies were somehow monuments of cinematic perfection. In reality the original trilogy has plenty of flaws, bad acting, silly creatures (Ewoks anyone?) and cheesy dialog. But the thing is, we were all kids when we fell in love with them. Our expectations weren’t for some grand masterpieces of moviemaking, but for an out of this world adventure that transported us to a place we could only imagine.
So many people my age anticipated the prequels with such high expectation that there is no way that they could ever meet those demands. Especially since Lucas decided to direct them himself (sorry but he’s not the best director out there), there was no way that they would match up to what we wanted them to be. But as Star Wars movies, they fit in with the original trilogy as wonderful space operas that transported us to new worlds and gave us glimpses of amazing technology. They were every bit as much Star Wars as the original movies.
But because we are now adults, our expectations were no longer those of the kids who fell in love with Episodes 4-6. When you talk to kids who have grown up on the prequels, they say that they like them. They think they’re fun and to them, this is the same excitement that we had when we were kids. Just because we’re all old and grumpy that Lucas messed with our childhood doesn’t mean we should discount the wonderful meaning and purpose that the prequels have in the lives of today’s kids.
And now, we all get to experience things anew with the new trilogy and anthology movies that are being released. Hopefully, we’ll all be a bit more open with our expectations and try to look at these new movies as something fun, even if they’re not perfect. So here’s to the next generation of Star Wars movies and fans, may they fall in love with this universe as much as we did over 30 years ago.
Oh… and you better believe that Han shot first…. stupid Lucas trying to retcon his badassery….