Book Author (Mostly) Defends PT

Cass Sunstein, the former head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs wrote a book called “The World According To Star Wars.”  I have to admit I only knew of Sunstein as one of President Obama’s policy wonks and I was really surprised he decided to delve into pop culture, especially since in this interview with The AV Club (groan) he admits he wasn’t into it all of that much when he started out writing it.

The even more surprising part of it is how Sunstein mostly sticks up for the prequels:

VC: That folds into your larger defense of the prequels, a cause that you’re passionate about in the book. You argue the commonplace view, of “original trilogy = good, prequels = bad,” is oversimplified. It’s almost part of what you’re talking about—this idea that we want to streamline narratives to retrofit the conclusions we come to.

CS: Yeah. I think it’s not politically correct to like the prequels. If you say you like the prequels in polite company, you kind of mark yourself as not quite right. There are a couple reasons I want to say some nice things about the prequels. One is that they are visually spectacular. The start of Attack Of The Clones is really tremendous. Many of the scenes in Attack Of The Clones are tremendous. I think that’s the most underrated of the seven. Revenge Of The Sith, that’s a good movie. Scenes in which Anakin turns to the dark side are both really good in themselves, and they eerily mirror what happened to Luke. That’s very cleverly done. I think there’s a lot to be said in favor of them.

And okay, they don’t have the kind of joyful giddiness of the original three. That’s fair. I think I want to say it a little bit with respect to George Lucas: Give the guy a break. You know? He took real risks in the prequels. He thought really hard. They’re very ambitious movies. If you watch the first one, The Phantom Menace, a little bit with the feel of being a kid, I can’t say it’s a great movie, but it has greatness in it. Again, Lucas did some amazing things visually.

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10 Responses to “Book Author (Mostly) Defends PT”

  1. Bob Clark Says:

    He’s not a movie critic or expert. I’m fine with his language being a little imprecise here. He vouches for the PT better than most people would of his demo.

  2. Jacobesico Says:

    Not Politically correct to like the Prequels?

    Give me strength.

    • Captain Rex Says:

      Screw political correctness, its a plague. Though social justice warriors and the haterboys are the samething with different names.

  3. Nick Skywalker Says:

    Saw this book in B&N a few weeks back. I just flipped through it for a couple of minutes, but this short passage pretty much sums up the tone of the book. There’s the usual laying the shield “The prequels aren’t as good as the originals BUT” line but overall it’s prequel friendly and he manages to single out some really good points/strengths such as how much deeper they are compared to the OT and how they mirror historial works/events and of course other stuff as well. Actually, there’s a chapter dedicated to each film in the saga (including VIII and beyond). I definitely got vibes that he “gets” SW, ergo that it’s a family saga, about family problems, love, daddy issues, good and bad, etc. aka there’s more to it then spaceships. I’ll probably end up buying it at some point :p

  4. Jim Raynor Says:

    This is a braver and much more positive summation of the Prequels than you’d find in most of the entertainment media. I’ll gladly take this as a fan.

    He nailed it when he said people try to streamline things by making everything fit their preferred narratives. I’ve thought the same thing after nearly two decades of observing fandom and the geek media.

    The media loves a narrative. It makes things easy for lazy pop culture journalists who aren’t writing about a serious topic and aren’t subject matter experts on filmmaking and movie business. Narratives about which movies suck or flopped allow them to swarm in like sharks and talk as if they are experts.

    Fanboys too enjoy the opportunity to put others down and act like they’re some kind of authority on the matter. The ugly fact is that a lot of geeks suffer from low confidence and personality problems. No one in real life cares if you self-identify as the biggest Star Wars fan ever. But on the internet, that lets you talk trash to other fans as well as a highly successful billionaire filmmaker.

    • lisse Says:

      What you said about people streamlining things is absolutely true.

      As a fan both the DCU and MCU, I’ve been a bit bemused by th tack taken in popular culture regarding their films. It personally reminded me of how people react to the PT and OT.

      I enjoy both comic book franchises and criticize both, but rn, for example, if you say you enjoyed BvS on any kind of level, you’re a tasteless peon who shouldn’t be allowed to watch movies. The same people will tell you how Civil War was fantastic (I enjoyed it a lot, but it was mostly derivative). So, all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again. SMH.

      The book sounds decent. I might look into it.

  5. Heidi Says:

    This might be off topic but reading the article I was impressed upon a complete different train of thought after:

    “If you watch the first one, The Phantom Menace, a little bit with the feel of being a kid” he goes off to say something else but that one sentence made me realize all three films act like the stages of life.

    Childhood->Adolescence->Adult

    Because the story follows Anakin, naturally were following the journey of a young boy to manhood but the films overall atmospheres match each stage of life to compliment Anakin’s growth.

    Fun Adventure-> Romance & Intrigue -> Tragedy

    New food for thought I guess, I never looked at the films in such a way before.

  6. Michael Says:

    I’m also heartened to see this kind of attitude expressed. Did you see the piece Sunstein wrote that ran in the Washington Post? “You may hate the ‘Star Wars’ prequels — but they predicted our current political era” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/06/01/you-may-hate-the-star-wars-prequels-but-they-predicted-our-current-political-era/

    Your political tastes may vary, but we should all be heartened by the fact that prequel appreciation is reaching a larger, mainstream stage. This kind of exposure is crucial to critical revaluations.

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