Is Star Wars for Kids, or does George Lucas Just Love Money?

I have to be perfectly honest with y’all: I loved Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I thought it was awesome and super cool and everything. I read the novelisation and read everything I could about the movie — hell, I started a fansite which, fortunately, no longer exists.

The second confession is, of course, that I was a full eleven years old. So of course I loved that crap, it was for kids. It was awhile later, after I snuck out of that age where every movie you watch is absolute gold, that I started to see the cracks and see how crappy a movie it was. By the time Attack of the Clones hit, I was old enough to understand it wasn’t that good, and by the time Revenge of the Sith hit, I understood that the new trilogy was absolute crap.

When the movies were coming out, George Lucas was of course under fire for, in the words of many, single-handedly ruining one of the best and most beloved franchises of all time. Lucas’s defense varied, but one idea he often stuck to was that what most fans don’t understand is that these movies were for kids.

The idea was often criticised for the often-graphic content of the films, like in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin Skywalker loses a bunch of limbs and his face starts melting. In Lucas’s defense, of course, each movie featured silly robots who would bicker and comically say “roger roger”, so it seemed he was mostly right.

Recently, after delving into a lot of Expanded Universe stuff, I came to the conclusion that, in the end, Lucas’s defense was pretty accurate: these were kids films, plain and simple. It seemed obvious, after all. The movies are pretty simple, most have pretty stupid humour, and as dark as things occasionally get, they really aren’t that grim. Sure, Revenge of the Sith is dark at times, what with younglings being slaughtered and Hayden Christensen’s acting, but even then, things aren’t too bad, and there’s enough silly humour coupled with flashy action sequences to sooth over most kids.

I think there’s some other important evidence, too: ask any kid who was pretty young when The Phantom Menace came out: most (unless they’ve been coached by their fanboy parents) will tell you in a heartbeat that the new trilogy is awesome and most will have never seen the original trilogy. As a Star Wars nerd, I consider it blasphemy, but that’s just the way things are. Kids like the Clone Troopers and the Battle Droids and Gungans and Darth Maul and CGI Yoda and so on. They are things that appeal to kids and that’s just it.

Now, with the various Clone Wars cartoons, other EU-stuff, and the supposedly (and almost definitely) godawful Star Wars: Kinect, and the various 3D re-releases of the New and Old Trilogies (of course expect these to eventually go to Blu-ray, special new scenes included), not to mention the several re-masterings and re-releases of the films in the first place, it’s become more and more apparent to me that George Lucas just loves money. I mean, his argument is (very likely) that he just wants to introduce a new generation to these movies and that’s very legitimate, but I don’t think he’s doing it just for philanthropy. He isn’t some starving artist or someone so dedicated to his craft that he thinks every single human being will be enriched by having seen these films. Hells no. It’s really about the money. Money is the underlying goal, plain and simple. I mean, it’d be no different if Coca-Cola said they wanted new generations to experience the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola: for every person whose life you enrich by exposing them to this fantastic thing, you’re making an extra dollar.

In the end, then, I’m not sure who I’m more ashamed in: George Lucas, for not being an incredible artistic visionary, or myself for believing he was.


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