Star WarsThe biggest difference between people of my generation and people of my parents’ generation is that I was able to watch the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time over the space of a few days, while my parents and their friends had to wait years in between each release. Some people may try to say that values and perspectives change across generations, but, if that is true at all, its significance shrinks in comparison to the effects of Star Wars Chronology Compression.

For people who were there to see the trilogy when it was brand new, there was a significant amount of time during which they didn’t know that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, and an even longer period during which they assumed that there was to be a romantic relationship between Leia and Luke. But for me and my generation, the two major plot twists concerning Skywalker genealogy are taken for granted just as much as the destructive properties of the Death Star and the conflict between the Empire and the rebels. This generational divide is one that greatly overshadows any trivial shifts in pop music, fashion trends, moral convictions, social conventions, or any other factor of human experience. (With the exception of the internet)

Star WarsBut there is just as great a chasm between people of my age and people just a few years younger. You see, I remember a time when there were exactly three Star Wars movies. I remember a time when Jar-Jar Binks did not exist, when Obi-Wan Kenobi could only be pictured as a man with a white beard, and when Anakin Skywalker was only the distant memory of the oldest characters. The prequel trilogy was an addendum that came along later, when the Star Wars saga was already a fundamental part of my existence. Not so for those a few years younger than me. Some of my own siblings are younger than The Phantom Menace and probably don’t make nearly as clear a distinction as I do between the original Star Wars and the newer Star Wars.

Although I was not nearly as disappointed and upset by the prequels as many Star Wars enthusiasts were, I strongly agree that they aren’t nearly as good as the originals. They just aren’t. I feel sympathy and concern for those who view the six movies as a unified saga. While that may seem to be a more tidy and satisfyingly holistic way to view the series, it ignores the plot holes and the differences in storyline quality and special effects. (In my opinion, the over-the-top special effects of relatively recent movies are actually a distraction from the plot.) I think that my tendency to perceive the six movies as two distinct series allows me to better appreciate Star Wars in general, just as classic Doctor Who and the current Doctor Who are not the same TV show.

Now, we are approaching the dawn of a new era of the Star Wars fan experience. As of last October, Star Wars has fallen into the hands of Disney, and fans have been promised an episode 7 in 2015, with an implication of future installments after that. Star Wars lovers have mixed opinions about this. Some are horrified, but others say that the worst has already happened and that the future of Star Wars can only be an improvement on its past. And then there are some who didn’t have a problem with the prequel trilogy and are excited by the prospect of yet more movies, regardless of what organization is in charge of making them. I don’t mean to imply that every Star Wars fan falls into one of these categories; my point is simply that this new Star Wars movie is already receiving mixed reviews, two years before it even exists.

Star WarsMy own opinion falls somewhere in the middle, although it is probably closer to the pessimistic side. I acknowledge the possibility that future Star Wars movies could be good, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re terrible. Even if they are better than I expect, it troubles me to know that there will one day be people on this Earth who know Star Wars as an epic series of at least seven episodes, rather than as a series that expanded around one really great movie. They will be misunderstanding their own culture because, no matter how good the rest of the series is, it is the movie now known as Episode IV: A New Hope that revolutionized cinema and science fiction, single-handedly redefined all subsequent pop culture, and has earned a place in history shared by few other works of art.

Before a new Star Wars movie comes into existence, there is something I must say. It is essential that I make this quite clear for the record, in order to protect myself and my love for Star Wars. When future Star Wars movies come out, I am not compelled to accept them or to acknowledge that they count. My opinion of them and their significance are contingent upon how good they are and how well they fit in with the other Star Wars movies. If they meet my Star Wars standards, I will duly love and obsess over them. But if they fail, even slightly, I reserve the right to roll my eyes and deny that they are really Star Wars or that they bear any relation to the preceding movies. Just because Disney has bought Star Wars, I will argue at great length, does not mean that they can make Star Wars movies, for Star Wars is not a product that can be bought and sold. It is a way of life, I will further inform my bored and annoyed listeners, and ways of life do not come with price tags stuck on them. Commercialism cannot contain and define Star Wars, no matter how hard it may try.

So Disney can go ahead and do its worst. No matter what the new movies are like, there is nothing Disney can do to hurt me or to shake my appreciation of Star Wars. I remain secure in my admiration of the original trilogy.

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