The Prequel Effect Is Just Fandom Coping

TrueFansTM always find reasons to retain their devotion:

I almost never comment on YouTube videos, but I did on this one, because the assertion that the Prequels merit critical rehabilitation, as a consequence of the audience having the Wrong Expectations, needs to be smashed with a hammer.

When people are Fans of a thing, they tend to construct narratives of why they don’t like something that they’re supposed to like. Often this takes the form of finding a Villain to blame for Making the Movie Wrong. Currently, that’s Disney and Kathleen Kennedy. Kennedy is a Monster, a Harridan, an SJW from the Deep. She hates you and she hates what you love.

This is all speculation, you understand. In reality, Kathleen Kennedy is a old-hand Hollywood insider, and George Lucas’ hand-picked successor to run Lucasfilm. She’s been with him for decades. She didn’t ruin anything that wasn’t already drained of any value except as a cash cow.

Lucas being an auteur is a narrative relying largely on his pre-SW movies; American Graffiti and THX-1138, which are indeed loosely-flowing films, relying more on visual statements than on character narrative. That’s all fine to point out. It’s completely reasonable to assert that when doing the Prequels, Lucas decided to just play around, make his own movies his way. He’s more or less admitted this, calling The Phantom Menace a “jazz riff” on a Star Wars movie. He already had us on the hook, what difference could it make (he was right, of course. The Prequels were big money-makers. Disney wouldn’t have bought Lucasfilm otherwise)?

That still doesn’t make them good. Phantom Menace is still boring, Attack of the Clones is still plotless and hackneyed, and Revenge of the Sith still not-quite good enough. The reason these movies fail is, and I’m gonna repeat this until the Eschaton, the characters are all lifeless, except when EMOTING, which is always bizarre and out-of-step. For a set of space adventure films, characters should have life, should feel real. The characters in the Prequels don’t. Blaming my expectations doesn’t fix this.

Note that this doesn’t let the Sequels off the hook. The characters in the Sequel Trilogy seem a little more like real people doing real things. They’re likable. But the stories fail to make good use of them. They flail around like soccer players trying to draw fouls but the refs aren’t buying it. They ultimately fail to tell a convincing story. It’s all just noise – a different kind of noise than the prequels, but noise nonetheless.

In conclusion, while I don’t doubt that people walk away from Rise of the Skywalkers and re-watch Attack of the Clones and feel some kind of relief, that doesn’t mean anything. Everyone felt relief at The Force Awakens, and look how that turned out. The real truth is that Star Wars is Broken, and has been since 1983. It will never be fixed; it will never be made better. No one cares about that much, except you.

The solution is obvious.


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