We’re Winning: A Commentary

This site’s been going on for 11 years and for most of that time, it’s felt like Sisyphus trying to push a boulder uphill.  Even with The Clone Wars on the air, trying to get respect for the prequels and for its fans five years ago or eight years ago was a tough job.  It felt like the world was against us.  The media didn’t respect us, geek culture didn’t respect us, a vocal chunk of fandom didn’t respect us, licensing didn’t respect us, and Lucasfilm didn’t seem too eager to defend the movies or help us out much either.

It seems to me that over the past couple of years things have started to change and now, we’re just beginning to see the payoff.  It doesn’t seem to be quite so “cool” anymore to make fun of the prequels or to trash them.  The media isn’t quite so hostile.  Trolls and haters seem to have shifted their focus to the sequels since I guess they’re a fresher source of their outrage.  Hasbro and the comics have never abandoned the prequels and now other licensees are offering prequel stuff.  If it seemed like Disney wanted everyone to forget about the prequels three or four years ago, their influence is all over the place now.  They were obviously an influence on TLJ and references galore appear in “Solo,” including a surprise cameo by Darth Maul.  Even Simon Pegg, once a virulent and public prequel basher, has recognized that hating a movie’s a waste of your time and feels bad people like Ahmed Best were hurt by the backlash.  We’re getting two prequel-era novels next year and more prequel-era comics.  The prequels figure prominently in #1 NYT Bestseller “Thrawn:  Alliances.”  The SDCC exclusive cover with Anakin and Thrawn was a hot item.  I almost didn’t get one!

The Clone Wars is going to return in 2019, five years after it was abruptly canceled.  Fans’ persistence in getting the show back paid off but the fact of the matter is, Disney couldn’t ignore the gangbusters business the show was getting on Netflix.  It’s been on the streaming service for over five years.  The trailer that debuted at SDCC got more views than many ballyhooed movie trailers.

So what accounts for the shifting winds?  It seems that pop culture has a 20-year cycle.  The original trilogy was always popular but it seemed like Star Wars wasn’t recognized as a cultural institution until around 1997.  2019 marks the 20thanniversary of TPM and as we get closer to that anniversary, I think there will be greater recognition of the value the prequels added to the saga.  I’m seeing a lot of that already.

Some of it is wistful appreciation of what Lucas accomplished.  It’s always easier to appreciate in retrospect, especially with Lucas now retired.  It’s also easier to like something that feels familiar.  When the movies were first out, I think the critics just didn’t know how to handle a Star Wars that didn’t look and feel familiar, so they deemed those movies “wrong,” as though Lucas didn’t understand his own story or his own universe.  They held on to those feelings of anger and disappointment for a long time, angry at movies that made them feel angry.  But after 20 years, many have simply gotten used to them.

Some of it is of course generational.  Not that long ago, Boomer and Gen-X Star Wars fans were the ones that had the money and the soap boxes.  Now, adults who had grown up with the prequels and The Clone Wars are coming into their own.  So they’re going to have a greater influence on all things Star Wars.

Whatever the reasons, I’m glad we’re finally getting there.

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