The Wee Archive – Attack of the Star Wars Critic

What Ho Wee Readers, and welcome to another addition of The Wee Archive, this time in Star Wars flavour. Remember to sign up to the Wee Mailing List, to receive stuff like this all the sooner.

The Royal Election – or the Stupidest Criticism of the Prequel Trilogy that has or will ever exist in this world.

The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy gets a lot of flak from the wider pop culture lexicon, doesn’t it? For a long while a hatred of the three film fall of Anakin Skywalker was assumed as the default, by people both in and out of the fandom. And while they have received a bit of a boost in popularity since the sequel Trilogy came out and showed us all what an actual bad Star Wars trilogy looks like, it would be difficult to say that that hatred just up and vanished into nothing. Everything from the comedic side character of Jar Jar Binks to the heavier focus on political intrigue, has been criticised and made fun of.

And honestly, I can’t fault that…not because I agree with it, I don’t. But if someone did find the political talk too complicated to understand, or found Jar Jar Binks kind of humour grating, that would certainly spoil a lot of the films for you. Same goes for the acting, the direction or even the CGI. If that bothered someone, then yes that would make the prequel films, bad Star Wars films for that person. I may think that person is wrong, but their logic is sound. If it bothered you, then that criticism is at least partly valid.

But you know what criticism never is?

Queen Amidala was elected, that’s so unrealistic.

I’m seen this thrown around a lot on the internet, both as a ‘legitimate criticism’ and as throwaway line and it always really annoyed me. Especially because when fans of the prequel fire back in its defense, it’s almost always with the same retour; that some countries do elect their monarchy. 

Because here’s the truth of the matter…we’re talking about Star Wars here. The franchise that is set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…why are we trying to match them to our one planet society at all? Oh, royalty isn’t supposed to be elected in your world view, random person on the internet…you do realise you’re watching a space opera, right? I mean these are films set in the world where entire planets are treated more like countries – or states if you’re American – and artificial intelligence is somehow so widespread that it’s become boring and mundane. .

 This has been something that has really bothered me for years, but I always figured it was something people said when they ran out of anything else to gripe about the prequels. Like, yeah you may think the CGI is obnoxious but apparently so did everybody else on the internet, and it’s really not interesting anymore. So, the would-be critic looks around and spots another little flaw that perhaps hasn’t been talked about quite as much. And there, we have a brand-new thing to whine about. Which would be…well…not fine…but at least I could follow the logic. No one wants their voice to be lost in the crowd. But here’s the thing, it’s the response from the prequel fans, that same response done time and time again, that threw me. Because if you’re arguing against a completely nit-picky critique that doesn’t actually say anything about the film’s quality, why is your response to nit-pick right back. Why does it matter if some people on earth elect their monarchy? Star Wars isn’t set on earth, why engage with that kind critique at all? And then a horrible thought accrued to me, a horrible depressing thought. It’s not about critiquing or defending Star Wars at all. It’s about making ourselves look smarter than the other side.

As I said at the start of this now that I’m looking back quite bitter sounding rant, it was a popular thing to bash the Prequel trilogy. In a sense it made you look like you were smarter than others. Jar Jar Binks was too low brow for these critiques, and the forced love plot point was silly. Okay, I’ve kind known there was a bit of self-congratulating about hating the prequels for a few years now, so no surprise there. But then we have the flip side of the argument, and honestly, I can’t say that fans of the prequels are any less guilty of this intellectual posturing. Yeah, even me when I was much younger – it’s fun to think that the people that whine about the politics in the prequel films, just weren’t smart enough to understand it, but honestly the truth is that it’s just not true. Whether you liked something or not is not a mark of your intelligence, it’s not even really a mark of your morality – it’s just a random fact.

Thus, what can we conclude? Well, maybe there will always be people that hate the prequel trilogy – we may think they’re wrong but that doesn’t automatically make them stupid. And vice versa, just because someone loves the prequels doesn’t make them an idiot or a nostalgia obsessed baby. Thus perhaps, just perhaps, we should stop trying to trip each other up with nit-picks that say nothing about the series we’re watching at all. And finally, if there really is someone out there that found the fact that a space opera had a minor different political system to what is considered normal on earth, so awful that it ruined the film for them…maybe they shouldn’t be watching Star Wars.

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