Does The Problem Start At The Top?: A Commentary

It’s not often that I’m critical about Papa George, but when he said the following during Celebration V’s Main Event that people over 40 don’t like the prequels, younger fans don’t like the first SW films, etc. my fondest wish now is to tell him, “Please for the love of GOD, STOP SAYING THAT!”

It may be true that most of those who strongly prefer the first set of movies are older fans who grew up with them and there may be a few fans of the prequels who don’t care for their predecessors. Still, it isn’t fair at all to generalize since I am one of those “older fans” who loves the prequels and I’ve yet to personally encounter any post-PT era fan who flat out despises Eps IV-VI. I don’t know if this is the conclusion Lucas drew on his own or if this is what he’s hearing from his lieutenants but it clearly affects “policy” and where we are right now.

At the Why We Love The Prequels panel at the same convention, Kyle Newman said that it was a mistake to treat the saga as two separate trilogies instead of as one saga because it divides fandom and pits fans against each other. He hit the nail right on the head. That’s EXACTLY what has been happening; Lucasfilm perceives Star Wars as two separate trilogies with two competing sets of fans with a side dish of 8-year-old Clone Wars fans. The “OT Fans” have to “win” every time because they’re more vocal and since they’re generally older, they have more disposable income. This is why they pander to the things they know are the “OT only” crowd’s beefs and the rest of us are expected to sit there and take it. This is why they know they can get away with a skit that makes fun of Hayden Christensen’s acting abilities. It’s one thing to laugh all of the way to the bank when you sell these guys Han Shot First shirts and put out a DVD set with the pre-Special Edition versions of the films. It’s another thing to sanction and encourage animosity toward the prequels or the people who worked on them just to make the haters happy for 10 seconds. I don’t like the cheering contests clearly set up to favor the first set of movies, just to show “Them” who still rules the roost.

It’s just dumb. Sure, they can giggle at exploiting the division and collecting from us both but now that I’m 41, I’m sick of being played for a fool. If there are fans who prefer the older movies, they can participate in or buy whatever suits them. Lucasfilm should have no need or desire to exploit any hatred toward the prequels just to keep these guys as happy customers and the actors shouldn’t be acceptable human sacrifices to those ends. In any case, I’m not sure why you’d want to keep these guys as fans if they need that kind of stroking.

And if Lucasfilm is playing down the prequels because they’re “controversial” or its fans aren’t as “passionate” so they’re not valued as much, well, shame on Lucasfilm. They not only wasted the time of everybody who worked on those films, they wasted our time too.

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12 Responses to “Does The Problem Start At The Top?: A Commentary”

  1. Cad Bane Says:

    I know actually quite a few people who like The Prequels and Clone Wars stuff the most and the shocker is quite a few of them grew up with the OT Triliogy since 1977, So I dont believe the old generation hates the Prequels

  2. mo442 Says:

    I dunno… I think this is a little overreacting, to be honest. I don’t necessarily agree with Lucas’ assertion that all young people like the prequels more and all older people prefer the originals. That’s certainly a generalization; although I do agree that typically the Star Wars that most people grow up with is THEIR Star Wars; I was lucky in that I discovered the OT and the PT at about the same time, rather than with a 16 year gap, so it feels like one saga to me. But I do think that many people who grew up with the originals prefer those films deep down, even if they did still enjoy the prequels.

    As far as the rest of your commentary, I do see instances that make me wince where the prequels get the occasional bashing, but I don’t think it’s fair to blame Lucasfilm for perpetuating the prequel hate. What one yahoo at a Disney skit says off the cuff about Hayden doesn’t necessarily jive with some deep-seated conspiracy at Lucasfilm to discredit the prequels.

    Also, I think we’ve all become a little oversensitive. The occasionally good natured zing at the OT usually results in a chuckle from me, while the same treatment towards the PT makes me grimace. Maybe it’s just that we’re so weary of having to defend these films, but I think we’re missing the point. If people are joking about the PT, it means they have at least begun to accept them as part of the Star Wars saga. We tend to joke about what we love, after all; if people really hated these movies, they would either ignore them completely or talk all our ears off in the most serious, impassioned, pathetic way possible about how much they hate them.

    Hell, even GL jokes about the prequels, especially TPM. He understands that not everyone is going to love everything about the saga but backs that up with the argument that you’re probably not going to love every single chapter of a novel either. He’s encouraging the view that these individual films comprise a saga and I think we’re going to see that emphasized even more when the Blu-Ray set is released.

    Really, part of accepting the prequels in the context of this greater saga is lightening up a little and taking the good with the bad. The worst thing we can do as fans is dwell on the occasional negative comment; let’s celebrate what we love and let others discover what makes these films so great through our enthusiasm and praise rather than be turned away by our self-seriousness and negativity.

    Or as Qui-Gon would say, “Don’t center on your anxieties.”

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Hey, first off, never tell a chick she’s “overreacting” ;).

      “What one yahoo at a Disney skit says off the cuff about Hayden doesn’t necessarily jive with some deep-seated conspiracy at Lucasfilm to discredit the prequels.”

      The guys at the top are going where they think the fandom winds are blowing without really thinking about it. Like Howard Roffman’s idiotic comments at Celebration IV. However I have seen time and time again pretty solid evidence that some of the people who have their hands in Star Wars every day don’t care for these movies very much. Whether it’s employees posting under their names on a well-known fan site about how “funny” those TPM-bashing videos are, the starwars.com Twitter account re-tweeting a cartoon where a guy who loves the prequels and thinks Hayden is a fine actor gets shot, starwars.com posting links to articles that are negative toward the prequels, starwars.com leaving TPM’s 10th off its year-end list, etc.. I’ve visited starwars.com every day since it went online in 1996 and I have yet to even see once anything that I’ve mentioned occurring with the OT.

      “We tend to joke about what we love, after all; if people really hated these movies, they would either ignore them completely or talk all our ears off in the most serious, impassioned, pathetic way possible about how much they hate them.”

      The latter has been pretty easy to find on the internet since 1999. Actually, since 1997 if you also count the Special Editions.

      The kind of humor you see on Robot Chicken or something doesn’t bother me. It’s gentle humor from the perspective of a fan. Most of the “humor” directed at the prequels is based on the same premise: they suck and nobody likes them. It’s hard to argue those kind of jokes are out of affection.

      If I’m sensitive about it, well, it’s because I’ve seen a very ugly side of fandom and popular culture emerge and the effect it has had. I don’t want to dwell on it all of the time either but it’s an issue, it’s there.

      • Simon Maxwell Says:

        “Howard Roffman’s idiotic comments at Celebration IV.”

        What idiotic comments were they?

        “starwars.com leaving TPM’s 10th off its year-end list”

        That’s true, but Star Wars Insider did devote an entire issue to The Phantom Menace’s 10th anniversary.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Re Celebration IV, it’s a long story I’ll try to make short. It was at the Opening Ceremonies and Roffman said the older fans like the first movies (cheers), younger fans like the prequels (boos)…well, what do they know (cheers). I was so mad, I almost walked out. I would have if I were by myself; I didn’t want to lose the friends who were sitting with me.

        Titan is a licensee, not directly run by Lucasfilm.

  3. TPF1138 Says:

    Oh, well said! I agree…

  4. oxward321 Says:

    “If I’m sensitive about it, well, it’s because I’ve seen a very ugly side of fandom and popular culture emerge and the effect it has had. I don’t want to dwell on it all of the time either but it’s an issue, it’s there.”

    Beautifully stated!!! I agree!!!!

  5. oxward321 Says:

    “Titan is a licensee, not directly run by Lucasfilm.”

    TPM 10th anniversary issue is one of THE best Star Wars Insiders to date!!!!!! In my opinion. ;D

  6. Lin Says:

    Wish George would ask us himself. Unfortunately that squeeky wheel he hears are the same voices that booed about Jar Jar. I love all 6 but it was the PREQUELS who brought me into active, true fanhood. I’ve said this before but can’t hear it enough: These entries are the foundation to the story. And the Jedi in the glory years instead of just Yoda and Obi Wan in ANH and then only one lonely Jedi in ESB. The Jedi Temple – and witnessing Palpatine’s climb to power are all revelations that really resonate within the OT and makes it …dare I say? Yes I will – makes it BETTER. and the key is Anakin. We needed to see that entire arc.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Very well said!

    • Vicky (@KentressCrazy) Says:

      OMG! That’s exactly what happened to me and what I think. I came to the fandom only a couple years ago and saw the movies in release order on the advice of my best RL friend. I liked Luke very much and enjoyed seeing him grow into a mature and strong Knight, but Han and Leia didn’t really resonate with me. Having liked Ben Kenobi, it was great to see his overall arc in the prequels, because I think Star Wars is as much about him as the Skywalkers.

      Seeing the prequels, I found it had more substance, more of an epic quality because it didn’t only focus on a small group of Rebels but saw the subtle, insidious corruption slowly eating away at the Jedi and Republic. After all, could Sidious have been successful without the evil already being present? I don’t think so. The prequel characters are more interesting to me, too, though I’m not sure why. I just wish they were developed more.

      The prequels ignite my passion and imagination much more than the originals. Originals feel like Harry Potter; prequels feel like Lord of the Rings in terms of the focus of storytelling.

  7. oxward321 Says:

    Lin, VERY well said indeed!!!!!

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