When I was a kid, "Star Wars" was cool. Now, it seems, no one hates "Star Wars" more than "Star Wars" fans.
I was born in 1980, into a world already in love with "Star Wars." I was too young to see any of the original films in the theater, but I watched them over and over on VHS. All my friends did. We worshipped "Star Wars." We even worshipped "Return of the Jedi" because we were kids and the Ewoks were weird and cute and funny, and we hadn't yet learned that the Ewoks weren't cool.
Lately it feels like "Star Wars" only exists to be despised. When was the last time you heard anyone say anything positive about "Star Wars?" Has it been years? Decades? There was a lot of excitement about the Special Editions when they first premiered in 1997; I braved sell-out crowds three different times to see them at my local multiplex. Today the Special Editions are almost universally loathed because George Lucas, in his infinite dunderheadedness, dared to slightly alter a laser blast in one scene and add the worlds "A New Hope" to another. Only the original "Star Wars" is cool. Nothing else measures up.
I often wonder why "Star Wars" fans still bother. If every creative decision Lucas has made in the last two decades was so awful, why keep buying tickets? If he's turned the franchise into nothing more than a shameless cashgrab, why continue throwing money at it? To the best of my knowledge, George Lucas does not actually possess Force-like telepathic powers capable of making someone buy "Star Wars" merchandise. Maybe he does, in which case he probably also has the power to compel me to write this piece defending him, in which case you can't blame me for writing it.
At this point, hating "Star Wars" is a parasitic cottage industry to rival "Star Wars" itself. And it's fed by people who call themselves "Star Wars" fans -- they might consider themselves the only true "Star Wars" fans -- and who express their fandom by explaining why "Star Wars" used to be wonderful and currently sucks. The Internet is littered with pieces like "91 Reasons to Hate 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" or the post I read today, "50 Reasons Why I've Fallen Out of Love With 'Star Wars'" by Allen Kobiela. Those reasons include:
11) The Phantom Menace’s main plot divice is taxation.
12) Thousands of years of evoultion on Naboo has created a fish that finds nutrition in eating metal underwater travel vessels
28) George Lucas thinking thats what we want to see in a Star Wars film is taxation disputes and underage romance.
Look, I think the "Star Wars" prequels are pretty crummy, too. I rewatched all of them last year, and none, including "Revenge of the Sith," hold up all that well. The original "Star Wars" ushered in a less-than-remarkable era of big budget filmmaking in Hollywood, but at least it was spectacular entertainment. The "Star Wars" prequels ushered in an even less remarkable era of atrocious CGI and brand extension filmmaking, and they were terrible, too. We got all the negative consequences of the original trilogy with none of the benefits.
But why repeatedly dwell on the bad as some sort of weird tribal ritual? How many times does the choir need to be preached to? At what point will it be socially acceptable to like the good parts of "Star Wars" and to let the bad ones slide? The prequels are about taxation disputes and underage romance, but they're also about the dangers of pledging blind allegiance to a cause that is less benevolent than it appears. More and more, I wonder if Lucas used the origins of his "Star Wars" mythos as a space to examine the dark side of the fandom it spawned.
When I was a kid, "Star Wars" was cool. Kids growing up today will get to be my age and say, "When I was a kid, hating "Star Wars" was cool."
Read more of Allen Kobiela's "50 Reasons Why I've Fallen Out of Love With 'Star Wars.'"