I love science fiction. I grew up with Star Trek. I adore Firefly. I’m quite the fan of Doctor Who. I read the genre, I watch the genre, I write the genre. Futuristic ideas, advanced technologies, alien landscapes, ships that fly among the stars… The romanticism of science fiction captured my heart when I was but a wee little thing, and it has yet to let go.
So, of course, there was also Star Wars.
I have no idea how many times over the years I have watched the VHS tapes of the Original Trilogy. The number is rather high, I’m sure. I’d watch and rewatch, then watch again. My favourite is The Empire Strikes Back. I had a huge crush on Luke Skywalker and, though I am not a sadist, I thought he looked quite good when he was a bit beaten up. And he spent a good amount of time in that film getting knocked around…
I read quite a few of the books, too. My favourite of those is The Courtship of Princess Leia, a wonderful book whose entire plot could have been avoided if Han Solo had just had the balls to talk to Leia instead of spiriting her away to a planet where a matriarchal society kept rancors as pets. Then again, that would have been a ridiculously short book, and Han ending up a slave (of sorts) was more fun, so we’ll forgive him his lack of common sense. We always do, where drama is concerned.
Sadly, though, over the years I have grown repulsed by the entire idea of Star Wars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan. This is obvious, considering that I still get riled up over the whole thing. I’ve not reached a point of apathetic disinterest, and that, in itself, betrays my Jedi heart, however I cannot even think of the entire franchise without a strong streak of bitterness coursing through my veins.
I’m not sure when it started exactly… A great deal of it has to do with the Prequel Trilogy, of which I will go in to more detail momentarily, but I think to a lesser extent it started with the books. The books, you see, have a non-canon, but continuous story. Writers pick up elements from previous books to use in their own works, for continuity sake. Not all of this is bad, but if you are wanting to write something that doesn’t fit in to the Extended Universe of the book canon, it can make things difficult.
My first ever fan character was a woman named Anika Sin. She was strong in the Force, was raised by Darth Vader, and eventually escaped the palace of the Emperor (as Palpatine did not like her at all), ending up in hiding on Tatooine. She was blinded during her break for freedom and used the Force to see. And, as I did have a crush on young Skywalker, she was a romantic interest for him. I will admit right here and now, she would not pass the Mary-Sue litmus test. I did, after all, conceive her when I was around twelve or so.
Mara Jade also doesn’t pass the test, and yet she became an Extended Universe staple, even marrying Luke. Needless to say, when I discovered this as a teenager, I was less than pleased. I had wanted to write a book for Sin (something I am glad I’ve not done), but because of the way the Star Wars books are set up, I was defeated before I even began. I had come late to the party, and now there was no more room for my character. A part of me was jealous, yes, but another part of me was simply annoyed by the fact that the Star Wars books had morphed into something so absolutely linear in their story timeline.
Perhaps I had been spoiled by the Star Trek books, which have no such linear timelines… That, and they, to my knowledge, never killed anyone by dropping a moon on him. Poor Chewbacca.
The books are one thing, though. I can have a distaste for the Extended Universe and still love the movies. The movies are, after all, canon.
At least, I thought I could, but then George Lucas happened. Granted, he gave use the joy of the Star Wars universe in the first place. Sadly, he also mucked it up so badly that I can’t stand it. First he started tinkering with the Original Trilogy, something he continued to do over the years, putting his creation through a blender so often that even the resulting puree is tired of it all. The only change he made that I liked was to Cloud City in Empire, because he was able to use computer generated graphics to replace all those claustrophobic white tunnels with great windows looking out over the clouds. Everything else? Absolute rubbish, overkill, or, as in the case of adding Hayden Christiansen in to Return of the Jedi, utter blasphemy.
That wasn’t enough for ol’ George, though. He wanted to make the Prequel Trilogy. The horrors of Episodes I, II, and III are such that I don’t think I could list them all, even if I wrote an article devoted entirely to the subject. This is partially due to the fact that they are so numerous, and partially to the fact that I’ve scrubbed my mind of as much from those three films as possible.
I’m going to try a bit, though. I’ll divide them up into two sections: one to illustrate the films as being horrid in themselves, one to note the crap story that Mr Lucas tried to shove down our throats.
First and foremost, Lucas tried to put entirely too much story into entirely too short an amount of time, so the storytelling in the films, if you can call it that, is jerky and full of ridiculous plot holes. There’s also the issue of bad acting, which was as rampant as a plague in all three films. I don’t even think it was entirely the actors’ faults, either, because the whole of the cast couldn’t all be shite at acting, right? Which means that a good amount of it falls on the shoulders of the director(s).
In the end, though, what truly bothered me the most was that Mr Lucas seemed to be more interested in making his films shiny and pretty with computer graphics rather than focus on good storytelling. That, I feel, is one of the greatest tragedies of the Star Wars franchise. The Original Trilogy was made back in the late seventies and early eighties using puppets, models, claymation, and probably duct tape and string. Oh, but the story was fantastic! It was compelling enough to draw millions of fans the world over. The Prequels? No… They rode on the coattails of their predecessors, and the result was vile.
Which brings us to the actual story. I can’t give a great many specifics here, as I’ve watched each film a total of once, and have spent quite a bit of time afterwards trying to forget. One major gripe, though, is the “romance” between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. Now, I’ve heard that Padme was supposed to be fourteen in The Phantom Menace. While that may be true, Natalie Portman does not play a young teenage girl well, so the entire relationship between Anakin and Padme starts off leaving this weird pedophilic taste lingering in your mouth.
Then, in the end, the poor girl ends up dying of a broken heart. Not complications during childbirth. Not accidentally being murdered by her now Sith-riddled lover. Not anything that would make sense, or at least not earn her the Award for Shittiest Mother Ever. No, she gave up because her precious Anakin went mad, not giving two shits about the fact that she just brought two lives into the world that need caring for! She’s almost as bad as Bella from Twilight, with that whole “not functioning because my boyfriend isn’t paying attention to me” thing.
Despite it all, I’m still a fan. I, like the many others who feel as I do, deny the existence of the Prequels. In my world of Star Wars, there is only the Original Trilogy, which has awesomely bad special effects, but decent acting, wonderful story, and a brilliant love angle between Han and Leia.
Sadly, though, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the Originals. At least I’ve still got the VHS tapes. Now, if I could just find a VCR!