I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but honestly there’s one main reason I ended up owning the Star Wars Prequels:
I got my kid hooked on Star Wars.
I told myself that I could raise my daughter to be a Star Wars fan in a post-Prequel world and keep her “safe” from the Prequels. I took precautions. I always referred to the original trilogy as “The Real Star Wars.” I taught her “Han Shot First.” I thought it would be enough.
However, the odds were stacked against me.
Problem one: The Star Wars Lunch Box.
My daughter wanted a Star Wars lunch box. We were at Target. There was only one available, from The Clone Wars cartoon. My wife and I debated it, and figured it would be okay. In the back of my mind, I knew it was the beginning of the end.
She had so many questions.
1) Why did the Stormtroopers look different? (I had to explain what a Clone Trooper was.)
2) Why does Luke look different? (I had to explain who Anakin was.)
3) Why isn’t Anakin in the Star Wars movies we have?
I thought of a very clever dodge.
I bought her Genny Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars Cartoon, which I think is amazing.
It had Anakin, Clone Troopers…no problem! Questions answered.
Then, the second problem:
It was the beginning of the end. She LOVED Jar Jar. I tried my best to avoid him, but she could spot him wherever he showed up. This was especially true when we purchased Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.
Here’s the deal: You have to start out playing The Phantom Menace in the complete saga. There’s no way to avoid it. So many questions appeared. I needed to explain Qui Gon Jinn, Battle Droids, Naboo, and then…endure her squeals of glee when Jar Jar first appeared.
By this time, I was only a few steps away.
It’s 269 pages, over two thirds of which are all Prequel characters, vehicles, weapons, etc.
My daughter, at four and a half, put it all together.
“Dad,” she asked one day. “Are there other Star Wars movies with Anakin?”
“Yes,” I sighed. “There are three of them.”
“Can we get them?” she asked. “Pleeeeeeeease?”
I thought long and hard about this.
I thought about how much I loved Thundercats as a kid, only to be disappointed when I saw them again as an adult. I thought about how my wife completely dislikes Buckaroo Banzai because, in my estimation, she “missed her window,” of seeing it at the age where she would have appreciated it.
I thought about whether I wanted to block her from the Prequels because I thought she’d get mad at me later in life if I let her watch them (what I was telling myself) or because I’m afraid of the scorn from my fellow geeks if she likes them, or (even worse) they become her FAVORITES.
Finally, I came to a realization.
There’s a reason that Jar Jar Binks is necessary to complete some Lego Star Wars missions. There’s a reason why Clone Wars Legos are cheaper. There’s a reason why Clone Wars lunch boxes are the ones available. I’ve always known it.
The Star Wars marketing machine moved on to my kid and left me behind. At first I thought it *moved on* to her after I failed to bite back in 1999, but I realize now that I just didn’t have a kid at that time.
I wonder if I was twenty when The Empire Strikes Back came out, would I have been disillusioned by all of the merchandise? Is the only real problem I have with the Prequels that I got old?
I don’t think so. Midichlorians are one thing that have nothing to do with time, after all.
Still, I figured I’d watch them with her rather than locking myself in the bathroom sobbing. People defend the Prequels sometimes because “they’re made for kids, not for adults.”
She had a lot of questions, one of which led to this exchange:
Betty: Why’s Jar Jar doing that?
Me: He stepped in poop.
Betty: Somebody pooped? Who was it?
Me: George Lucas
I had a lot of disappointment to work through over a decade, and that made me feel good. Still, watching them with her has given me a new perspective on them. One of the nice things about this set-up is that I kind of HAVE to watch them, and I have to say that the Prequels are better than Hello Kitty for me. I can tell that a lot of people did a lot of good work on these. They just weren’t what I wanted.
However, I’m not sure if they’re what my daughter wanted either. She got halfway through The Phantom Menace before she asked me to put in Attack of the Clones instead.
“This one’s boring,” she explained.
She asked me to put in Revenge of the Sith a few minutes into Attack of the Clones, but then told me never mind when the bounty hunter pursuit started.
Basically, for being “Pretty much for kids,” the political slant of the Prequels has an excitement-killing effect on her. She likes the battles and chases, but the minute there’s a scene discussing galactic trade she’s out.
Okay, now she wants me to put in Revenge of the Sith. That didn’t take long. It’ll be interesting to see how often she asks to watch these.
As for me, this isn’t a big problem. After all, there’s always the Rifftrax.