Rethinking the Phantom Menace

Spock: Is it possible that we two, you and I, have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?
–Star Trek VI

Hi all,

My daughter, “Princess” is now 8 years old, and takes after her father a lot. πŸ˜‰ She is nerdy and likes science-fiction, so she wanted to see the Star Wars movies. Now that they are available online, I decided to purchase the original series of movies and let her watch. She loved them. She really liked the Jedi Knights, she was happy that Darth Vader redeemed himself in the end, and she wanted to be strong like Princess Leia. She really enjoyed it.

But then she wanted to watch the prequel movies. I was nervous about this because I remember not enjoying them very much, but on the other hand, I felt she should know the back-story too, get familiar with characters like Jar-Jar, Anakin, etc. So, we watched the Phantom Menace together. You know what? She loved it too. She thought Jar-Jar was funny, Queen Amidala very pretty and Qui-Gon Jinn was a cool Jedi.1

I have to admit I enjoyed the movie a lot more this time than I did 10 or so years ago because as I parent, I can appreciate children’s movies more than I did as a college student. After the Phantom Menace came out, there were a lot of negative reviews, but now that years have passed and I watch the movie again, I think the reviews were overblown. It wasn’t perfect, and there is valid criticism,2 but I genuinely enjoyed seeing the Phantom Menace. I like the movie. I said it.

This got me thinking: maybe the prequels really weren’t meant for old Star Wars fans, but rather for a new generation of fans. There may be continuity problems with the series as a whole, but who cares? My kids love it, and it stimulates their imaginations just like it did for us, so why should I complain?

People who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy were much younger than they are now. Back then, everything about the movies was captivating and magical, and those memories are something we treasure as adults. The reality, though, is that you can never go back in life. You can only go forward, and sometimes that’s hard to do.

Anyway, the quote above from Star Trek VI (not Star Wars), is very fitting: people who grew up aren’t as young and open-minded as they used to be. Maybe our generation is getting too old and inflexible. Sure, we’ve got the money and we spend a lot of time arguing about stupid things on the Internet (meanwhile the rest of the world has real issues).

But we, the old Star Wars fans, should step aside and let the younger generation enjoy the movies on their own terms. Sure it’s not the same as the original, but it doesn’t have to be. The world doesn’t resolve around aging nerds, and it shouldn’t.

Let the kids have their fun, and don’t take things so seriously.

…and just to fuck with the adult fans…


P.S. Speaking of Star Wars and kids, my daughter loves this book. It’s pretty different than the canonical story, but she doesn’t care. She likes it very much.

P.P.S. I thought this was a good write-up and defense of the Phantom Menace too. Also, we haven’t seen Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith yet. I might be more disappointed by those two, we’ll see.

1 I like Liam Neeson anyway, more so after the Lego Movie. πŸ™‚

2 I liked RedLetterMedia’s brilliant critique of the Phantom Menace, but in spite of that, I still enjoyed the movie.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

2 thoughts on “Rethinking the Phantom Menace”

  1. You showed the prequel trilogy to your child? Why is the the department of human services not involved? Is your wife complicit? Do you live in a neighborhood where people don’t care? WTF, man?! I mean, your kid probably needs to scrape her knees or fall off of a jungle gym to learn to grow, but you have a duty as a custodian of tradition to not allow it to be corrupted.


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