The AV Club On The PT & Some Extra Thoughts

A lot of you have been pointing out to me The AV Club’s piece about the prequels. So here are some of my thoughts:

It starts out with the annoying habit of “laying down cover fire” before jumping in to point out stuff in the prequels he thought were good but the author makes an interesting point:

Weirder still, some fans seem more wrapped up in the Red Letter Media reviews than the movies themselves. The first trilogy has its own set of imperfections, small missteps, awkward lines, and creatures that serve no direct story purpose. But for a lot of fans, most of that stuff, give or take a pile of Ewoks, has been assimilated into a general appreciation; to a devoted fan, the first trilogy’s limitations can seem almost indistinguishable from its delights. The prequel trilogy’s similar mixture of the fantastic, the goofy, and the mundane has obviously not generated a similar affection—and in absence of Star Wars doing what they wanted, some fans banded together around a piece of criticism, trading memes, jokes, and references to those videos rather than the text itself.

As a critic, this is certainly tantalizing: Imagine, fans who quote reviews more readily than the movies they’re covering! As someone who loves movies, though, it’s terribly depressing to think of Star Wars fans who derive more joy from repeating “it’s so dense” and smug Screenwriting 101 bromides about Phantom Menace lacking a main character than actually, you know, watching Star Wars movies.

Yes, indeed.

While it’s nice that big geek sites like AV Club or The Mary Sue are tentatively giving a different point of view on the prequels, the problem is they’ve made so much hay for such a long time out of bashing the films, their readership isn’t going to consider anything they write with a different point of view. These readers might even react with hostile incredulity, as though their favorite political commentator decided overnight to change parties. Like Carole King said, it’s too late baby.

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27 Responses to “The AV Club On The PT & Some Extra Thoughts”

  1. bansheegun Says:

    I shutter at the thought of ever finding myself in agreement with The Mary Sue. Strange times we are in.

    • seitanoglu Says:

      I agree with The Mary Sue a lot of the time — just not where Star Wars is concerned. It’s honestly frustrating to see that a lot of otherwise awesome, intersectional, feminist places have picked up the same lazy talking points from the rest of the media, as far as these films are concerned. Also almost incomprehensible to me, because I became a SW fan through The Phantom Menace, a film where one could make a reasonable argument that the central hero is a fourteen year-old female planetary ruler. My eleven year-old self, so used to action flicks being aggressively presented as ‘FOR BOYS!!!’, was utterly blown away by Padme and the role she was allowed to play in the conflict presented in the film — to the point where even the absolute mastermind behind the whole thing couldn’t manipulate her fully.

      I’ve always through that Palpatine’s whole shtick hinged on getting elected, keeping Queen Amidala stuck on Coruscant, allowing the Trade Federation to effectively exterminate Naboo’s population and strip the planet of its resources… then use that as an excuse to obtain emergency powers and start a Galactic Republic / Trade federation and their allies (proto CIS) galactic war. Essentially, something like the Clone Wars, only a decade earlier. Padme realizing that there’s one more fighting force still free on Naboo (the Gungans), hatching a plan to free her planet before it’s too late and leaving Coruscant to actually put the plan into practice delayed Palpatine’s Empire-birthing efforts by at LEAST ten years.

      I’ll stop here before this turns into a full-on Padme-gushing post. I adore her and the way she’s treated by a lot of the fandom and bashed even in comparison to her own daughter drives me up the proverbial wall.

      • Anthony Says:

        I just saw this comment, and I know it’s old news, but I’m going to say that you’d have to be a complete idiot not to realize that the two central protagonists are Qui-Gon and Padme. It’s just different from what they thought we were going to get. They thought they were going to get Anakin and Obi-Wan as the protagonists, and instead we got Obi-Wan’s old teacher and Luke’s mother, the rightful Queen of Naboo. We got the old guy and a young girl. Lucas flipped them on their heads! And they got angry for it.

        That’s what I don’t like about these hack guys, claiming that there’s no protagonists in the film. I first saw the movie back when I was 14 years old, and even back then, after years of being away from Star Wars, it was obvious to me who the protagonists were. 😛 If that’s how they look at Star Wars, I shudder to think of what they think about modern movies, cramming 10 or 12 protagonists into the film at the same time.*

        (The reason I emphasize Luke is because a lot of people probably thought Anakin was going to be like a younger version of Luke, and that they were going to have a brotherly relationship from the very beginning. That didn’t happen, and instead we got something very different from what they expected. Padme is a very independent character, and even if she had never had Luke and Leia, she’d still be a great character in the SW series. They thought that she was going to be some throwaway love interest for Anakin, and that he’d be the real star of the show. Instead, she’s anything but. It also boggles them that the central protagonist, Qui-Gon, gets killed at the end of the first movie. That doesn’t happen too often in movies. :-/)

        *That isn’t even new; John Carpenter was doing it back in 1982! O_O If you watch ‘The Thing’, all 12 of the men who are the characters share equal screen time, and yet it’s apparent that MacReady, and Childs, are the central protagonists. I see no difference between that, and watching Episode I, which actually has less central characters for Lucas to play with. :-/

  2. Βlade57hrc / Ira ProV Says:

    The comments section under that article is…well, business as usual for all the ignorant arm-chair directors who graduated from Stoklasa’s imaginary school of filmaking 101…

    • andywylde77 Says:

      It’s funny how the people that watch the plinkett reviews and think he gives a deeper look into the finer aspects of filmmaking, yet the RLMoron team can seem to do anything when it comes to films? If this guy is so “insightful” about filmmaking, then where are his film masterpieces?

  3. seitanoglu Says:

    I’m going to copy-paste the comment I left at the AV Club site and that I’ve also posted to my Tumblr. It’s preaching to the choir here, but I still feel it needs to be said, particularly for the people struggling to understand why the more hateful parts of this fanbase can’t just get over themselves, live and let live:

    his comment section has absolutely everything that I virulently DESPISE about Star Wars fandom in particular and about popular media geekdom in general.

    — quick, let’s bust out the ad-hominem angle on the author for daring to have a different opinion than our oh-so-precious selves;
    — quick, let’s do the same to everyone in the comment section who disagrees with us;
    — if someone has the utter temerity to like something we hate, we must shove every single argument we can think of right down their throat, never mind that they’ve probably heard all of them a million times before and aren’t any closer to being swayed than they were a decade ago;
    — people need to be told over and over why their tastes are SHIT and why our opinions are unquestioningly Objective Truth, no arguments;
    — what, the caustic, obsessive, bitter hatred we spew everywhere is driving people right out of the fandom and making them want to go for alligator wrestling rather than deal with us ‘fans?’ Too bad, we’ll be even more horrid and obsessive about what we hate, instead of focusing on what we like;
    — no one must be allowed to peacefully enjoy or find value in that which we cannot stand, it’s a universal human truth.

    For years now, I’ve been getting the impression that a large part of geek culture takes the incredibly nasty attitude of ‘you deserve to be punished and made utterly miserable if you like what we don’t’ and the fact that no small amount of positivity toward the Prequel Trilogy can ever be allowed to exist on the Internet without a horde of people coming down and tearing everything to pieces proves that point, doesn’t it? It’s an obsessive, pathological sort of hate by this point and I utterly despise it and its most fervent adherents – the same sort of people who whine endlessly about their precious ‘ruined childhoods’ and yet have absolutely no problem riding roughshod over all those of us who came into Star Wars with TPM or AOTC or even ROTS, depending on age. Our childhoods bear no thinking about. Quelle surprise.

    Also, people can stomp their feet and scream their hate until they burst with it. Absolutely nothing of that will change the fact that if the Original Trilogy was all there was to Star Wars, I’d have enjoyed the films as one enjoys summer blockbusters, but I would never have become a *fan.* It doesn’t change the fact that it took TPM to make a fan out of me and that to this very day, I’m infinitely more emotionally invested in the prequel characters (from Obi-Wan to Anakin to Padme all the way to Ahsoka, Barriss and the rest of the cast introduced by Clone Wars) than I ever was in almost anyone in the OT, save for the Skywalker twins and Vader.

    As for the Red Letter Media reviews and their status as ‘let me bludgeon you with things you don’t agree with over and over and over and over again, because I obsessively want you to change your mind’, here’s someone else with their two cents, taken from their Tumblr tags:

    #this is a GREAT READ DAMN!!! #related note: the best way to get me to instantly disrespect someone is to have them bring up the red letter media reviews #and treat those reviews like some sort of universalizing canon of opinion. like lmao no thanks #I already have enough snide assholes mansplaining to me why I could never love the prequels lmaooooo #anyways this article is on point I legitimately teared up when they mentioned the opening shot of RotS #tracking across the expanse of space until you see coruscant and the drums and suddenly Anakin and Obi-Wan whip by in their aethersprites #star wars is my life

    “Star Wars is my life”, they had the audacity to say. Not unless you like the ‘right’ films, the snide asshole contingent bellows, as always.

    • Shamari Stewart Says:

      Amen. To me the fact that most people (in hindsight mind you, not when the movies were first released) dislike the prequel trilogy isn’t what gets to me. That’s fine, I like other movies that most people don’t like and that’s okay. If I say I like the movie I don’t get people jumping down my throat about how I’m wrong. THAT, is what gets to me. They desperately *need* me and others to be ashamed to like these movies, and I don’t know why.

      Take Twilight for example. I’m not a fan, but if someone tells me they like it I don’t feel compelled to argue with them. Because that seems like a dick-ish thing to do, that would be me trying to ruin their fandom and make them ashamed. Why would I feel the need to do such a thing? I might say I didn’t like it, and I might even say why and try to figure out why they liked Twilight, but I wouldn’t intentionally get into a lengthy argument where I list reasons why they shouldn’t like a movie.

      What it boils down to for me is this: why do you care so much that I like this movie? Why does that affect you, at all? That is what I’d ask the star wars fans that love to hate on the prequels and anyone that enjoys them.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Hold on right there. It’s NOT a fact “most people dislike the prequel trilogy.” If that was true, they wouldn’t have made a dime. Don’t drink the internet geek echo chamber Kook Aid.

      • Shamari Stewart Says:

        Well then I misspoke, I’m glad people like it, and I wish the echo chamber weren’t so loud of course. Didn’t mean to present something as fact when I have no idea how many people like or dislike the movies, it’s just that as of late all I’ve seen and heard about the movies is negative (or tentatively positive), especially with episode VII coming out

  4. Adam D. Bram (The Nilbog) Says:

    It’s never too late if it’s sincere. The sins of the past are never forgotten, but reconciliation is always possible. If Anakin’s story teaches us anything, it’s that. They just need to keep on this road, and never turn back.

  5. roxam91 Says:

    It was a good read. Yeah, I didn’t agree with every single thing. But something I can agree 90% with is better than any Star Wars-related crap written by all the news outlets/geek media.

  6. maychild Says:

    IMO, Pegg’s comments, or perhaps his comments added in with the various annoying memes that have circulated about TFA and the subtle, and not-so-subtle, efforts to differentiate it from the prequels (i.e., the “practical, practical, practical” hype, which was flatly dishonest as well as irritating), may have had an unexpectedly salubrious effect on prequel fans: they’ve been pushed past the tipping point. Or if that’s too dramatic: they are starting to talk back, in numbers and in places that they NEVER would have done before (for fear of being leapt upon and verbally torn apart).

    Not only that, I think the “passage of time” argument has started to stick. That is, people are finally starting to realize just how bizarre the haters are, so completely obsessed with and fixated on three decade-or-older movies that they hate and claim are “utter garbage.” The same applies to their unofficial spokesman, aka Plinkett/The Red Letter Moron. If you watch his reviews — and many of the haters claim to watch them, over and over — you’re also watching the prequels, or at least, devoting the same amount of time to them that you would if you were just watching them. Why keep doing that, if you hate the films so much?

    Not to mention, it puts the lie to the idea, frequently put out by haters, that the prequels are “unwatchable.” If they’re so unwatchable, why, or should I say how, are they still watching them?

    Also, the haters love to accuse anyone who likes the prequels of worshipping Lucas (if not wanting to perform various sex acts with him), but have no qualms about referring to Plinkett as if he’s the ultimate film authority, and citing his reviews as if they’re holy texts — without seeing the irony. They are MUCH more worshipful of Plinkett than the average prequel fan is of Lucas, and that’s starting to be noticed.

    Oh sure, the haters still control the mike, but I think it’s slipping away from them a little. Not much, but a little. Maybe it helps that the kids who grew up with the prequels are now old enough to delve into social media and talk back to them, and generally get out the idea that the prequels are to their generation what the OT was to mine.

    Or maybe I’m just engaging in wishful thinking. But when a mostly-positive article about the prequels appears on the AV Club, one of the worst cesspools of “we’re so hip it hurts” PT haterdom — and people are talking back to haters, and actually offering a noticeable amount of criticism of Simon Pegg, and some (not many, but some) media outlets are doing articles that are (gasp!) neutral toward the prequels, just presenting them, matter-of-factly, as part of the SW saga rather than including a snide comment about how awful they are and how SW fans hate them, then something has changed, for the better.

    To be fair, some of the haters themselves have softened (again, not much, but a little), possibly because they have become parents in the decade and a half since TPM “raped their childhoods”; watching the prequels with their kids (assuming they “let” the kids watch them in the first place, and if they do, that’s progress in and of itself), and are seeing that maybe, just maybe, they’re NOT SO BAD. Or watching the whole saga with their kids helps them to see the prequels from a “saga perspective”: maybe they don’t like them as much as the OT movies, maybe they never will, but viewed as a whole, the saga works pretty well and the prequels fit in fairly nicely.

  7. lisse Says:

    And, apparently, there’s also an article posted on the AVClub today with the headline ‘Red Tails is the SW prequel fans deserved’ you know it’s one tentative step forward and two backwards. (http://www.avclub.com/article/red-tails-star-wars-prequel-fans-deserved-227819)

    There’s a lot of good to be said about Red Tails but there’s no reason to put down the prequels nor expect the prequels to be just like Red Tails. Gee. I wonder what Red Tails has in common, on the surface, with ANH.

    It’s like these people have locked onto one particular type of narrative and cannot allow room for anything else.

    • lisse Says:

      When I feel like I’m not going to rage at this pretentious gatekeeping, I’m going to leave a comment on the above article because I really really would prefer these fans not to speak for me.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      The critics ripped “Red Tails” apart, as I recall. Not a bad movie, at least not as bad as it has been made out to be but it’s a movie that serves an entirely different purpose than the prequels. It all goes back to my recent piece on the media: these people are not the least bit curious and they are steeped in pop culture while they can’t put it into context.

      It also reiterates what I wrote in this piece: The AV Club has invested so much and so long in bashing the prequels, who’s going to listen if it takes a different tack?

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      Interestingly, Red Tails only got a Direct-to-DVD release here in Germany (I think).

  8. JediBeachBum1379 Says:

    As much as article said some positive things about PT I still cannot understand this hammering of GL and his script/direction nonsense! I watched TPM & AOTC the other day with my friend and I think the dialogue and direction is excellent! I asked my friend who isn’t a SW fan what he thought of the movies and he liked them, not once did he say: “Yeah the SFX were amazing but that script and direction was terrible!”
    That bugs me no end!
    Anyway, just my 2 pennies worth!

  9. Hoggle Says:

    I don’t find any of the indidvidual movies perfect from either trilogy either. As overall movies, this is how they are to me (in context them being all time favorites of mine).

    TPM : 7.5 – 8.0
    AoTC: 8.5 – 9.0
    RoTS: 9.0
    ANH: 8.5
    TESB: 9.0
    RoTJ: 8.0 – 8.5

    So i find the two trilogies pretty even overall. AoTCs to me went really close to being the best Star Wars film, and being a perfect film in it’s scope and potential. I find it riveting and excellent up until the Droid Foundary sequence, after which i find the film goes on abit of a tangent until Yoda arrives with the Clones, getting it’s groove back. For the overall movie, i would have preferred more Dooku, Padme & Anakin movie story in those proportions of the film. The Droid factory sequence would have been fine by itself, but then it’s the Arena Monster sequence which is similar (although not as good) as foundary in it’s type of sequence, then the Jedi vs Droids which while spectacular looking, for some reason doesn’t give a decent narrative – that of the Jedi being slowly wiped out and driven into the centre of the arena – to me, it all seems abit random in how it’s edited and then it ends. I don’t find RoTS as overall brilliant as AoTCs but at same time it doesn’t really make any mis-steps.

    • Adam D. Bram (The Nilbog) Says:

      Now, I would rate the individual films differently, but the overall effect is the same.

      Further proof how Art is subjective.

      • Hoggle Says:

        Yes, very true, such is life.

        For my actual overall enjoyment of the material & scope, could probably add 0.5 or more to scores, depending on episode, but trying to be objective with a non Star Wars specific cinematic sense, those ratings are how the definitive GL era of Star Wars sits for me.

  10. Jim Raynor Says:

    As the guy who actually took the time to parse through the RLM Episode I review from beginning to end, I’m rather familiar with the cult-like devotion it has among the vocal internet fandom. Actually watching and analyzing the review is a dreadful and tedious task that I wouldn’t recommend for anyone, which is why I’m apparently one of the few to have done it.

    Yes, its own followers haven’t even bothered to really watch it. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after being bombarded with nasty and desperate defenses in more than one forum.

    The Prequel haters/RLM fans all recite the same memes, which shows their level of understanding since memes are basically shallow mental shorthand. It’s always the same handful of criticisms, mostly drawn from tbe first 9 minutes (out of a dragged out 90) that are brought up again and again.

    Nobody points out that Stoklasa is fabricating criticisms or intentionally failing to understand a simple plot. Nobody calls him out for lack of mental effort (or even basic intelligence) when he suggests alternative plots that are far worse than the actual movie. For example, he can’t fathom why Qui-Gon doesn’t just rush out to fight against thousands of battledroids…literally a minute after having to flee just two Droidekas. He calls the Trade Federation’s efforts to cover up their actions and seek a legal loophole (the treaty) pointless, suggesting instead that they fully admit their wrongdoings because apparently they have no self-interest other than serving Sidious. Instead of looking at the long segments of the review which don’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny, they accept it as the final word on the Prequels.

    And the way they defend it is so telling. The review is perfect, insightful, and logical, until you point out that it’s not. Then it’s just “humor” and you’re taking it too seriously by fact checking its claims. If you do a comprehensive, point-by-point write up on it, leaving almost NOTHING out (like I have), that means nothing because you only “cherry picked” a small bit to generalize the whole.

    Seriously, I’ve been accused of not doing the work and cherry picking despite a long write up showing the opposite. There’s even a defensive meme for it: They point out the part where I stated that Anakin first appeared less than half an hour into the movie (as opposed to the 45 minutes Stoklasa was claiming) and say that’s ALL that I have on him and that I’m a nitpicker for doing that. Seriously, I pointed that out in a few sentences out of over a hundred typed pages, but that’s one of their go-to defenses. It’s like the RLM fanboys are all getting their talking points from the same place.

    They do that because RLM absolutely has to be correct for them. He’s their thought leader, the avatar of their nerd rage. I’ve posted before about the disproportionate amount of personality disorders and depression I’ve observed in fandom, on the internet and in real life. Well people like that, who are isolated and powerless, often seek a leader or a cause to empower themselves. Doesn’t matter if the leader is absolutely horrible, just that he expresses the same general opinion as them. It’s the same psychology behind cults and the people following some of the truly awful political candidates out there right now.

    Says a lot about the vocal geek fandom, and the geek media, that RLM goes unquestioned and is even respected in their circles. I don’t know Stoklasa personally, but as far as I can tell he’s a bitter geek who plays the part of a crude, psychopathic neckbeard serial killer. Whining, an offensive and monotone “retard voice,” and even what can be easily construed as rape humor (all those skits with terrified girls chained in his dungeon). Truly the qualities someone should seek in their friends and leaders.

    Instead of valuing intellectual rigor and a balanced outlook to life, the internet geekdom gravitates toward this extreme and disgusting negativity that goes way beyond disliking a few movies. They don’t want to move on or become better people. They just want to flock behind someone who will hate something as much as they do. The psychology on display is truly pathological.

    • Keith Palmer Says:

      Just as a question, have you compiled your “critique-critique” into a single document? A few years ago I was pointed to a PDF file doing what you’ve done (and including a few photo-comics), but it led off with a “of course the movie deserves some sharp criticism” opening (specifically making a big deal about how “Obi-Wan should have had a larger role”), and I wound up deleting it… and if I have just described part of your work, I apologize.

      However, while I’ve seen some people lamenting how we haven’t managed to produce a visual rebuttal capable of going viral itself, the suggestion people haven’t gone through the whole thing at least hints some people were just using it to support their own ginned-up outrage instead of having been “convinced” by it. If the video is divided up into the ten-minute chunks YouTube used to require, maybe the “watched” count for each section would support what you’re saying…

      • Jim Raynor Says:

        Keith, It’s always been one PDF file, probably the same one that you saw before.

        If you got the impression that it led off with severe negativity about TPM, please know that that wasn’t my intention at all. I just glanced at the first few pages of it again for the first time in a couple of years and didn’t think I was very hard on the movie.

        I wrote at the beginning that it wasn’t my favorite Star Wars movie, but I also made sure to say that I thought the movie was good and very underrated. I also remember saying somewhere that I thought Obi-wan was underutilized in TPM, but that was just a brief statement of personal opinion and not an attack on the film. Overall, I was trying to be support of TPM and the Prequel trilogy and defend it against RLM’s deceitful and illogical criticisms.

        As to how many people actually sat through all of RLM’s awful review, the last time I checked the YouTube view counts, the numbers fell sharply after the first couple of parts. Near the end, the view counts were something like 10% of the first part.

        Despite all the gushing from online prequel bashers, I doubt normal people have much time for hateful 90-minute whine fests featuring some guy droning on in monotone.

      • Keith Palmer Says:

        Now I have to apologize once more (and go looking for the document again…) Maybe I’m thinner-skinned than I need to be; I might have reacted to the “Obi-Wan comment” by remembering ones like it having been made as standalone criticisms.

        Anyway, I try not to play favourites (although I do seem to watch the new movies with building interest as I approach RotS, yet move on the old movies having to face awareness how the most obviously revised effects and sequences grate on some without ever quite being willing to just watch the “pre-Special Editions”), but put a gun to my head and I’ll say there were things about TPM that “triggered” at least some people to visceral negativity.

    • andywylde77 Says:

      I did just want to touch on the whole point of Anakin being introduced in TPM at 45 minutes. So RLMoron was making a point in his “review” that Anakin comes into the movie at 45 minutes. Then in the rebuttal(which I still have the PDF of) Jim states that Anakin comes in at 32 minutes. Which is what actually happens.

      I have seen on forums where people would tell Jim that he was “missing the point” of Anakin’s appearance in the film. Well since saying Anakin appears in the film at 45 minutes isn’t really comedy, so the whole comedy angle gets thrown out. So all that is left is to rebut that accusation with the actual time he does appear.

      Because I have seen RLMoron fanboys fall back on the “it’s all comedy” excuse when one of RLMorons points get debunked. So if anyone could shed some light on this for me which would be the

      Anakin makes his first appearance at 45 minutes.

      Because I fail to see the comedy and any humor behind that claim. So now plinkett fanboys can’t use the “it’s just comedy” excuse here. Unless maybe I missed something here? I don’t think I did. So Jim made the right assessment of that situation.

      But the whole point of Anakin appearing in TPM according to plinkett doesn’t work as comedy or critique. I guess I just have to be seeing as if I was a “100 year old serial killer/rapist” that plinkett does his “reviews” as? His followers think his YT “reviews” are great but the PT is cinematic trash? Who are the people with poor taste again?

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