Having just finished watching all the Star Wars movies with my son to catch him up to The Last Jedi, I’ve been thinking a lot about these movies, their flaws, and the general sense of feeling I get from them. Watching my son live through the sadness and excitement has given me a new perspective on them and what they mean to me.
I am going to push forward an idea that some might disagree with: Star Wars is the single greatest movie franchise of all time. Besides Harry Potter, I don’t believe that any story has created the fanaticism that Star Wars has. And Harry Potter were books to start, only being movies in an adapted format. But since its release in 1977, Star Wars has almost dominated nerd and even pop culture in a manner nothing else has been able to match. Sure, there are a fair number of people who don’t like it. That’s the same with anything. That’s OK. I am not here to argue for or against their perspective. I am more going to argue the large number of fans who now shit on the franchise.
I know a few hardcore fans of Star Wars besides myself. But I don’t count. In many ways the fact that I liked the prequels immediately discounts me as being a “true fan.” And that alone is fucking bullshit. But I digress a little. These hardcore fans are those who were kids at the original release and who still regard the trilogy as Star Wars. Period. These people tend to disregard the prequels in much the same way I disregard X-men III. In other words, they never happened.
I get it. The newer movies don’t fit the mold that these fans created to cradle their love for the franchise. These fans spit on all of the movies not part of the original trilogy gleefully pointing out where they went wrong, what plot points ran afoul, and the absurdity of things like Jar Jar and the medicalorians. There’s all kinds of things that one find find that’s wrong with something if one looks hard enough. Yes, there are things that maybe are ridiculous. Trying to explain out force-users and those who are more gifted than others through little symbiotic life forms is a stretch, but does it truly harm the saga? Think of it in ways of trying to explain what makes Anakin Skywalker special. What would make Qui-Gon Jinn put so much effort into delaying his mission and risking what he did to bring a boy who just was “especially strong with the force?”
There’s always the seemingly silly love story between Anakin and Padme. Why does this woman fall for a bitter, whiny young boy? Perhaps the boy is so strong with the force that like a Jedi mind trick, his power influences her in such a way that it breaks her, even without his understanding of it.
I was at one time among those who disparaged these movies as blasphemous. I even described Star Wars at one time as a poorly written fairy tale… in space. Even with the explanations above, I didn’t want to enjoy the prequels as much as I did in fear that it would tarnish what the originals meant to me. But as I watched my son jump up with excitement at points throughout the saga, I found myself understanding more of what I was reaching for.
As I get older, I’ve been trying to be confident and unabashedly open about what I like, without needing to provide an explanation. Attached to that is the idea of letting go of the feeling that something I enjoy is so precious that I become negative if it ends up in some way not following the path I created in my brain for it. What good does it do me to be that way?
When I was younger, there were things that I loved that I hid from others. Anime, musicals (I have a particular soft spot for Disney musicals), nerd stuff such as Star Wars and Star Trek, etc were all things I did not let others know that I really enjoyed. If I thought that it would be embarrassing, I’d hide it. If people found out, I felt that I had to explain why I liked it, as if that was important. That’s really been changing. Why feel bad about something you like? Even if it is stupid…
Back to Star Wars, fact is, my son loves it right now. As it is. He doesn’t see the prequels in some mismatch. Maybe it’s because he’s only been alive since then. He doesn’t see the flaws, much as I hadn’t when I was his age. This kid loves everything he’s watching. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am sick of trying to figure out some reason not to like something when it’s something I love. I am going to let go of my disbelief, my disappointment with the direction of a story, my need to criticize and I am going to sit next to my son in the theater and weep for joy when the words come up on the screen:
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…
And with my son, we’ll happily journey off and lose ourselves in the story.