Friday, April 24, 2015

The real test of the new Star Wars films is if they bring in new fans

Among people who are already SW fans the reaction is bound to be divided.  But I suspect that there is no way they'll receive the kind of hatedom the Prequels did from a loud minority of fans.  The landscape is simply different.

Some of the people who hated the Prequels will be impossible to please, but I will not accuse the majority of Prequels haters of having been impossible to please, I think mostly they wanted a film driven chiefly by Nostalgia, like the people who loved Superman Returns.

As for the Prequel fans, some may indeed become Sequel haters, but I don't think most will.  I think most even if they dislike the new films will not be haters.  You can dislike a film, even strongly dislike it without being a hater.  I used to be a Superman Returns hater, I'm not anymore, my opinion of the film hasn't changed, but I don't wander the net telling SR fans their opinions are now meaningless.

How the people who are already in the club feel about the new movies matter, if something appeals to none of it's built in audience then it isn't likely to appeal to anyone new either.  But those of us who already love SW will eventually grow old and die.  Whether Star Wars will still be a phenomenon a generation from now or will begin to fade away like Star Trek sadly has, depends on how well The Force Awakens and it's follow ups can bring in new fans.

Maybe some SW fans are so arrogant they don't think there is anyone new to bring in, maybe they are still in denial that the Prequels brought in new fans.  Well they did, and I'm one of them, and I'm not alone, in fact I'm on the older end of the spectrum of people who were brought in by the Prequels.

Star Wars has plenty of untapped potential to grow.  I seem to be the only follower of the BrosWatchPLLToo podcast who's crossed over and started following their Star Wars podcast.  Franchises like Star Wars need to start trying harder to appeal to young women with women leads, that's mainly where I'm hopefull for TFA, since it seems likely Daisy not one of the dudes is the Skywalker, and Felicity Jones is the lead for the spin off.  But that could backfire if they aren't written well, and sometimes the people trying hardest to to be feminist in their writering screw up the most.

But also younger people in general, some could discover and fall in love in SW through the already existing films, but usually what defines what a person loves throughout their life is what's new while they're young.

The way TFA is being promoted has me very worried in this area.  The first Teaser I liked a lot, in an odd-way it focused on what's new about this new film as much as it did what's old.  But mostly it did that by focusing on the new leads rather then the returning ones, thing is the new leads there all seemed to be based on what came before, one is piloting an Ex-Wing, one is dressed like Leia was in part of ROTJ and one is a Storm Trooper.  Meanwhile we also got a planet we thought was Tatooine, Tie Fighters, more Storm Troopers, a Lightsaber and the climax was the Falcone.  All stuff we figured the film would have.

The second Teaser however, does arguably show plenty of new stuff.  But it seems like all the praise that was trending is all about how Nostalgia tingling it was.  But since it's all OT based Nostalgia, it did nothing for me as a Prequel recruit.

Compare that to The Phantom Menace Teaser, the Music alone was sufficient to communicate that it was a Star Wars film and get the built in fan-base curious. But it mostly showed off how different that movie was from the others, how it does things they couldn't.  And that's why I as a young 13 year old kid who saw the OT but wasn't impressed by them became intrigued and really wanted to see it.  I even remember I became just as excited for it as everyone who already loved the prior films.  And I wasn't disappointed, the film delivered on what it promised me, only to be hated by those who wanted what it never promised.

The Prequels stayed true to the spirit of SW but expanded what SW was and what it meant.  And as I re-watched the OT with the Prequels in mind I grew to love and appreciate them in ways I couldn't before.  So I'm very glad they exist and made the movies I fell in love with possible.

Maybe there are youngsters not yet SW fans intrigued by these TFA teasers, I hope so for the sake of SW, because however I personally feel about these movies I want SW to keep being relevant.

Abrams is not openly Prequel bashing, but he's subliminally appealing to those attitudes every-time he talks about how important it was he use "Practical" effects and film on real sets and locations.  Reinforcing the meme that the Prequels were all Green Screen which isn't true.  For myself, as a Prequel fan it's fine, I never desired more films, I was fine with SW just being the saga of Anakin Skywalker, so I don't want Abrams to pander to me.

But what they don't realize is everything they're saying for the purpose of "winning back" the people who didn't like the Prequels makes this movie sound like it's deliberately using outdated methods. Like the old days when some older people had trouble accepting sound and color in films.  Which isn't entirely an accurate perception because the film will have CGi.

Right now, we have a whole generation of young people for whom Guardians of The Galaxy was the first space opera they saw on the Big Screen.  That movie like the Prequels and the original SW films was flawed but did things that hadn't been and couldn't be done before.  This December those kids are probably gonna watch their parents gush over how TFA was sooooo much like films they saw 30 years ago.  And I'm concerned that it will leave a bad impression on them about what Star Wars was all about.  Like teenagers being embarrassed by their Kiss obsessed parents.

I hope my fears are unfounded.


  1. 1. Abrams was a fan of the OT, he was not the 13 year old you.

    2. Being utterly disappointed and seeing 3 films fail in every film-making category does not make someone a "hater". We keep giving actual quantifiable reasons we detest the choices made, and yet you write it off as hating. Clearly this is not as one sided as you'd like to think.

    3. It doesn't really matter if someone sees something when they're young. What matters is that something stays with them. For years. So it HELPS that they're young, but it's not a must. Lucas doesn't get this though. As such, he (and you) concentrated too much on what a bunch on kids living in the ADD-era would think. I don't care what they think, or if their parents like TFA too much to consider it cool. This is elementary school-level thinking.

    4. Do you not get that a real-life set has a realistic, worn-in feel that something that always looks new, always shining, fake-looking doesn't? It has nothing to do with black and white films vs color. I guess you bringing this and silent era movies is a good jab though, you youngster PT recruit, you.

    5. You're right, the PT never promised actual good storytelling and moviemaking. We just assumed from the OT that this is what they'd give us once again.

    6. "But it mostly showed off how different that movie was from the others, how it does things they couldn't." If you don't get this, you don't get it. Nothing can be said here. There are people who just aren't impressed about the shallow crap that Lucas thought kids would find exciting. The stuff that the OT could do-- move people through simple storytelling, is something the PT could not do. Enhanced computer graphics is what it had to offer instead. That and ONLY that. Except, as mentioned in point 4, those enhanced computer graphics are a)shiny and fake looking and b)devoid of human emotion. You find the BS flippity flopping lightsaber "battles" cool I suppose. We the "haters" find them devoid of tension, humanity and realism. When Obi Wan and Darth Maul are within an arm's length of one another finally, they start an insta-choreo-"fight"; they don't even look at each other! In dance, this is called "anticipating" the next move, which takes you out of the moment. To many, it's simply an unforgivable flaw that takes them out of the story immediately. For a trilogy that was made in a new and "improved" filmmaking era, it's completely undone by exactly that.
    There is just no way but to firmly stand by the utter and complete disappointment. Which once again, has been already explained over and over and over again.

    1. 1. Good for him, i was not at any point saying he had to make a film solely for me.

      2. All 6 films have flaws you can nitpick. I don't care what your "reasons" are, they entertained me, they made me a fan, therefore they succeeded in the same way the OT did.

      3. Plenty of people already fans like the Prequels too. SW is a family a family friendly franchise, and Sith is the only one with a PG13 rating.

      4. The prequels did have real sets, and TFA will have green screens. I was mostly commenting on how people want to think of TFA not how it'll actually be. When what your depicting doesn't exist, I want it to do things something "Real" can't do. That is why CGi is needed.

      5. The Prequels had wonderful storytelling, they told a much more complicated and ambiguous story then the OT did, which is another factor is why I prefer them.

      6. The PT moved me, and moved many other with it's story telling. Your not liking doesn't make that fact any less true.

      Yoda and Jar Jar were not all devoid of Human Emotion, they were very expressive.

      Star Wars is a Fantasy, it was never supposed to be Realistic. The OT pushed the boundaries of what could be done at that time, and the Prequels did the same.

      You can explain your disappointment all you want, the desire to invalidate those who liked the Prequels as Stupid 13 year old kids, when the same was likely said of those kids who fell in love with A New Hope in 77 by pretentious old snobs s insulting and offensive.

  2. I'm just concentrating on the things you mentioned specifically. Don't blame Abrams for not including things you like when he probably doesn’t think much of them. Maybe if they got a non fan director, he'd be more inclusive, but I certainly won't complain about that. I'm not crazy about Abrams, just have no opinion.
    Also because I was trying to concentrate on things you mentioned specifically, I didn't mention a lot of other stuff. SO many other things are shitty, I just can't classify it as "nitpicking" by any stretch. And yes, one can definitely nitpick the originals.

    Fantasy isn't supposed to be realistic? I don’t think we’re talking about the same kind of realism.

    ..Yoda is extremely expressive in the OT indeed (should have gotten that Oscar nom if the Academy wasn’t a buncha puppeteer-haters! ;)). His impassioned explanation of the force is then completely negated and botched in the PT..

    New Hope was subjected to snobbery too, and some people still hate it or have grown out of it in a major way. That happens. But you're completely kidding yourself as to the extent that it was in comparison to the prequels. It's just not true. It's not a question of whichever movie came first that just happened to be regarded better. It’s not a question of who likes what better that is completely subjective. Again, the problems people have with the PT extend far beyond nitpicks. They have legitimate huge problems that you can counter with "Well I liked it" but when that happens, it seems as though not much effort is being made to understand where the ‘haters’ are coming from. Do you have your own example of something that you liked and then a reboot/reimagining/prequel/sequel of sorts completely spat in the face of the reasons you liked it in the first place? That is what this would be more akin to, rather than your example of old people simply stuck in their ways and not getting with the program and disliking change.

    I got into SW when New Hope was 10 years old. At this point, Phantom Menace is 16 years old. Like I said before, stupid kid or not (and it’s not kids that are stupid, it’s the ADD-esque filmmaking they’ve been conditioned to tolerate), something matters to you when it’s stuck with you for a long time. Obviously some people will say that the PT stayed with them in that way too. But nowhere near to the same extent that the OT did. I notice that after some time and distance, people have gone back to recommending the OT. Maybe you’ve noticed differently, but from where I stand, it’s not even close.

    Anyways, to your main point—what the test will be for this movie—you’re right. It needs a wider audience and I’m guessing that is how these new movies will be honed. Although you feel like it’s alienating the PT generation, I think they’ll really try to not alienate the general public. The new trailer was not quite enough to get me excited, so I’m finding the mass appeal and moneymaking potential pretty easy to look at objectively.

    1. I don't care if he includes things I like, I'm saying it's important he create new things. And I think he will, the mistake is not showing those more in the portion, we'll see how the future full trailers go.

      It seemed bigger with the Prequels because there was no Internet in 77, and because ANH wasn't a follow up to an already loved franchise.

      To me and many other other the PT has stuck with us and means just as much to us as the OT means to you. I don't care if people like yo dislike the Prequels, what I take offense to is constantly going around to invalidate the opinions of others.