Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Why Exactly Do We Care About Star Wars?

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 14 May 2013 12:00
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So last week in Zero Punctuation I pretended that reviewing the new tie-in Star Trek game would be a good way to mark Star Wars Week, as a sort of hilarious comic misunderstanding that I'm sure we all enjoyed, but it's Star Wars I'd now like to talk to you about. With Disney buying up Lucasfilm the Star Wars franchise is now being portioned out like a fucking Thanksgiving turkey. A new sequel trilogy starting in 2015, and the rights to make Star Wars video games being snapped up by EA (and incidentally I have come to decide that "EA" is an abbreviation of "EAARGH").

Can Star Wars as a franchise survive this raddling by cash-hungry wolves? Perhaps more to the point, can the affection it holds in the minds of entire generations of nerds survive? Well, I know what you're going to say, fans: you're going to say that whatever comes out of it, it can't possibly be worse than the prequel trilogy. In what I would say is almost unprecedented in the history of nerd culture, the reaction to Star Wars being taken away from its original creator to be made by somebody else was not cries of "SACRILEGE!" but deafening sighs of relief. And a prevailing excitement that Star Wars will finally have the additional films it "deserves."

I can't deny that keeping up with what George Lucas was doing with Star Wars over the last few decades has been like sitting opposite a mother and child on public transport, where the mother dresses the child in a bright pink tweed suit and dotingly gives them a fully-functioning chainsaw to play with. But lately a question occurred to me:

Would Star Wars still have the high profile it has, if the prequels (and indeed the additions made to the remastered originals) had been mediocre, or merely alright, rather than fucking horrible?

Little background here. I'm not a massive Star Wars enthusiast like some people who write on the Internet. I watched the original trilogy as a teenager, I liked The Empire Strikes Back obviously, I thought the other two were a bit scrappy. Return of the Jedi in particular started letting me see the ghostly warning signs that float around George Lucas' head like Jacob fucking Marley. Frankly I was much more into Star Trek, science fiction rather than science fantasy. I prefer having a stronger feel for the mechanics of the situation and what degree of effort needs to be put in to sort it out. When you introduce a concept so nebulously all-powerful as 'the Force' then you're going to raise the eternal question of why they don't just use the Force to resolve every slightest issue that comes up.

So I can't know what it must have been like for a die-hard fan to see the prequel trilogy for the first time. I imagine it being like how I felt about Red Dwarf when it came back after its long hiatus for Series 7, but on a larger scale. But detached as I am, even I can see that George Lucas' efforts in the post-talent phase of his career did the original trilogy more favors than you may realise.

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