I apologize for the incredibly convoluted and confusing title but it was the best I could come up with so stick with me.
Today is my day off and my husband is currently working an eight hour shift so, of course, I had to decide what to do with my day off. I always feel sort of lazy when I don’t DO anything but I do have to remind myself that relaxing and watching movies and tv shows, reading books that I’ve neglected for days, weeks and months is a good way to spend a day off. I was continuing my watch of Criminal Minds (currently on season 11!) and it was making me WAY too emotional so I decided to switch to Star Wars and begin a marathon. I’m finishing up Phantom Menace as I write this and guys, I remembered how much I actually really like this movie and its given me a lot of thought on why I have thought differently for so long.
When Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I was 11 years old. I remember seeing it in theaters. I actually remember seeing it multiple times in theaters. And I remember thoroughly enjoying it. I remember when it came out on VHS (god, I’m old) and watching it again a million times. I really loved it. I don’t ever remember thinking about the gratuitous CGI or the weird dialogue or midi-chlorians or Jar Jar Binks being annoying or anything. I remember thinking that a young Obi Wan was really cool and that Padme Amidala was a badass and that podracing was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in a movie and how I super wanted to be able to do that. I don’t remember bad feelings for that movie at all.
So what changed?
Honestly, I think a lot of it can be attributed to growing up and suddenly feeling like everything that you consume – movies, books, tv shows, whatever – has to be GOOD. As an eleven-year-old child, I watched Phantom Menace and enjoyed every moment of it because it was Star Wars and I grew up absolutely loving Star Wars and we were getting to watch the story of Luke and Leia’s parents! HOW COOL! Now, as an adult, we go into a Star Wars movie and come out grumbly and upset because of some of the dumbest reasons. I miss going into a movie and just enjoying it for what it was.
I guess I worry that as an adult, I’ve come to be too critical of the things that I enjoy and I worry that is true for a lot of people. I remember liking the prequel trilogy when I was younger. While I grew up with the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy came out during my formative years, from the time I was eleven years old and ending when I was seventeen. Those movies effectively were my childhood. And I enjoyed them. I was thoroughly attached to Padme Amidala and I loved a younger Obi Wan and I had a huge crush on Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. Somewhere along the way, my opinion of that changed and I became so hateful of the prequel trilogy and I think a lot of that attributed to the fact that it was a common thing, common knowledge, common acceptance – the prequel trilogy was bad.
Its taken me a long time to go back to the person who enjoyed the prequel trilogy and I attribute a lot of it to the sequel trilogy. Because once again, it seems to be this “universal truth” that the sequel movies are just bad. And I don’t feel that way. I don’t think they’re the greatest movies ever and I do have my personal gripes with them but as a whole? I really enjoy them. And because of that, it really helped me to reevaluate the way I felt about the prequel trilogy.
I remember reading something a long time ago, I don’t remember exactly where or what, but it spoke about Jar Jar Binks as a character and the absolute vitriol the character and, by association, Ahmed Best, the actor who played him, received. What I read talked about the fact that the people who hated Jar Jar so much were adults and that children loved him, thought he was funny and silly and entertaining and that made sense. Jar Jar wasn’t created for adults, he was created for children and if the children liked him, then they did exactly what they weren’t meant to.
It’s the same for so much of entertainment. So much of it IS created with children in mind and if children like it, then they totally achieved what they were aiming for. It’s adults with high expectations, with unreasonable expectations, that often create the criticism that leads to things being labeled as “bad”.
This is why I wish we sometimes consumed things in the mindset we had as children. I watch movies and tv shows and read books that I enjoyed as a kid and sometimes I laugh at the ridiculousness of them. They can be cheesy, not well done, weird, flat, maybe just plain not good. But I often still enjoy them because I remember enjoying them as a kid and I enjoy the nostalgia. I wish we could apply that more to what we consume nowadays and stop being so utterly over critical of every single thing we consume.
I am absolutely still guilty of this all the time and I wish I wasn’t. I wish I could go into something and just enjoy it without feeling the need to think about whether its “good”. I know for a long time, I based my opinions on things based on what others thought. It was universal that the prequel trilogy was bad so I considered the prequel trilogy bad. I’ve gotten much better at that. There are things that I absolutely love that I know others do not and I don’t care anymore. I am unapologetic in the things that I like and I’m getting better at not allowing other’s opinions to cloud what I think. If something is bad, but I enjoyed it? Who cares?
I think that this speaks true of so many fandoms but I think I’m frustrated by it mostly because of Star Wars. I’ve been watching Obi Wan (check the blog for thoughts and reactions!) and, as per usual when a Star Wars story is released, the criticism and hate comes out in waves. Racism toward Moses Ingram for playing Reva, hate for Vivien Lyra Blair playing young Princess Leia because, I don’t know, sexism? Most of us watched Star Wars as children, regardless of when that was. Some of us were children in the 70s and 80s when it was released, some of us watched it as children in the 90s and 00s. But we were children and we fell in love with those stories and we forgot about that when we became adults.
Let’s be real – the original trilogy is NOT perfect. I mean, its perfect in my mind, and in a lot of our minds, but that’s because we see it through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia. But the fact is, they are not. We just watched them as children and they’ve had a huge impact on us. We grew up and got too critical, too picky and now we can’t watching anything without tearing it apart and frankly, I kind of hate it.
I am now 30 minutes into Attack of the Clones and for years, I thought of this movie as just the worst thing that existed ever and, yes, there are definitely cringeworthy moments. The dialogue can be rough and, yeah, there’s a lot of unnecessary CGI haha but I do like it. I think the cast is great and they all did the best with what they had and they all created such iconic characters in the Star Wars universe. These movies lead into some of my favorite Star Wars creations, like Clone Wars and Rebels.
I think more appreciation for the prequels and the actors in them have come out in the last few years but it took a lot to get there. It took Ahmed Best talking about his struggles, his literal thoughts of suicide, to get people to realize the impact that the hate for the prequels did people. Poor Jake Lloyd, a child picked to play a young version of one of the most iconic characters of all time, was treated so horribly and he’s led a not so great life since then. Mark Hamill has spoken out, loudly, about how the treatment of Jake was absolutely horrific. Hayden Christensen has been getting a lot of love lately with his return to the Star Wars universe in Obi Wan Kenobi and he himself has spoken up about the hate he received and how apparently he needed patience for Star Wars fans to come around.
As happy as I am about this, I wish it didn’t happen at all. Right now, Moses Ingram has received racist messages and death threats and the Star Wars brand in itself and Ewan McGregor have spoken out against this behavior. Why can we not just enjoy things as they come and not take years to look back on things and realize that we like it NOW? It’s so frustrating. I wish we could look at things like we did as children and just enjoy it for what it is and not what we think it should be.
I’m rambling, which I often do in posts like this, but I think its just because I’m frustrated. I enjoy these movies and I kind of hate that the fandom ruined it for me for such a long time. I’m definitely trying to prevent that from happening now. I try to enjoy things on my own terms, regardless of what others think. I like the original movies, the sequels, the prequels. I like the shows and the cartoons. I’m actually considering watching the Resistance cartoon, which I’ve avoided because people have said they don’t like it. But I’m starting to just not care what “people have said”, you know? I just want to enjoy things.