When I say that it’s time for us to stop caring so much about Star Wars, I want you to understand: When I was a kid, my obsession with Star Wars was all-encompassing. I collected Star Wars comics, Star Wars fan magazines, Star Wars T-shirts. In fifth grade, I had only one real goal in life: To write a series of books for the Star Wars Expanded Universe. What I’m trying to say is that Star Wars simply was my childhood. I wanted so badly to live in the Star Wars universe. There was a Star Wars exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. Since the ’90s were a miserable time for sci-fi/fantasy movies — Lost in Space, Dragonheart, Wing Commander — the promise of more Star Wars films just over the horizon made Lucas seem (to my young, naive eyes) like the anointed savior of the cinema.
Studying various Star Wars encyclopedias was a gateway drug for enjoying actual genuine history books. Star Wars made me love science-fiction, so I have to thank George Lucas for indirectly pointing me onwards to Philip K. Dick, to Iain M. Banks, to Robert Heinlein and Orson Scott Card and every other great S.F. author. George Lucas can’t ruin my childhood, because my childhood already happened.
The reason why our first response is to hate George Lucas is not because Lucas is ruining our childhoods. Because make no mistake: Star Wars is extremely, extremely silly.
The second Star Wars film is a genuinely perfect Hollywood entertainment, a work of narrative schadenfreude that merrily chops our beloved heroes down to size. I’m not insulting any of these movies, but you have to understand that Star Wars is the rare long-running science-fiction series that doesn’t really have any Big Ideas at its core. The early movies don’t need Big Ideas. Take Return of the Jedi. Kids are stupid. Kids are stupid. Kids are stupid.
A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere. We’ve all become so obsessed with the notion that the original Star Wars films were perfect and wonderful and original, and mean old George Lucas just keeps on changing them. Time to admit that Star Wars — like fruit snacks and Nickelodeon — should perhaps be left behind in our adolescence. The reason why we hate George Lucas is because we are George Lucas: Eternally obsessed with putting a spit-shine on films from long ago, insisting that Star Wars is the modern myth, and so it can never stop evolving.
Star Wars was never perfect, and will never be perfect.