Losing My (Star Wars) Religion

I was stricken with some form of Death Plague when the new animated Star Wars film, The Clone Wars, screened in D.C., and didn’t get to see it. Now, I’d normally consider myself a pretty big Star Wars nut — not a raving, con-going geek, but the sort of fan whose love for the series probably borders the lines of social acceptability (ie: I only dressed up for one prequel premiere, and I was in high school at the time, which excuses a lot). And I was curious to see where Lucas might be taking — or allowing others to take — the franchise. But now that TCW is out, I just can’t see myself paying to see it. And indeed, I’m beginning to question whether I can really count myself as a Star Wars fan at all. This guy pretty much nails it:

A week ago I would have told you that I was just “uninterested” in seeing The Clone Wars. Today, after reading some trusted reviews, you would have to drag me kicking and screaming to see this abortion of a movie. From what I have read it is everything I have feared in a Star Wars film. The plot centers around Jabba the Hutt’s son nicknamed Stinky (not making this up) getting kidnapped and Anakin Skywalker and his new, hip, cool, sassy, spunky, teenage female sidekick — who apparently refers to him as “Sky Guy” — try to rescue him. This addition is on the level of adding Poochie to The Itchy and Scratchy Show, only for real. Fuck!

So let’s do the math: this is the seventh Star Wars movie to be released in theaters. I love two of them — Star Wars (the one released in 1977 that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, not the one released in 1997 when Greedo shot first) and Empire — think one is good (Jedi), think one is bad (Revenge of the Sith), two are putrid (The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones) and another I refuse to see. How can I call myself a fan when I only like 29% of the product?

The prequels weren’t any good, but somehow they were excusable; if you strained yourself, you could even come up with things to appreciate (whatever problems those films had, they weren’t short on spectacle). The Clone Wars, on the other hand, seems to exemplify the sort of crassness, laziness, and cheapness that’s plagued Lucas’s work for a while — only this time, there’s no way to explain it away. A lot of people predicted that the prequels would be the end of Star Wars fandom, but I think it’ll be the the sad, drawn out dribble of truly lackluster post-prequel products like The Clone Wars and Lucas’s rumored upcoming TV series that really do in the franchise. With the prequels, at least, Lucas made an effort, and both the fanboy reunion atmosphere and the tidal wave of hype allowed people to convince themselves that, Hey, this is all a lot of fun. Now it’s obvious no one cares, and it’s become a slog.