The worst aspect of Star Wars isn’t a movie. While the recent Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker was underwhelming and the prequel trilogy remain a terrible succession of films, Star Wars’ most atrocious element isn’t a lackluster cinematic experience or an unpopular character like Jar Jar Binks. In fact, this unforgivable component can’t be found on film; it was created by the franchises’ most loyal viewers. Star Wars’ most prescient problem is the cynicism held by long time fans. Aside from official channels, Perusing YouTube Star Wars content is an exercise in aggravation. Most videos about the franchise feel like informal grievances about how the franchise has “betrayed” them. It’s kind of sad.
Admittedly, I understand this negativity. As someone afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder, I once suffered from a similar mindset as these cynical Star Wars fans. Prior to being diagnosed with severe OCD, I suffered from all/or nothing thinking. During my teenage years, I had a difficult time enjoying movies, video games, and tv shows without unhealthily dwelling on story inconsistencies and plot holes. Even though I loved films like The Lord Of The Rings, I spent days agonizing over why Peter Jackson didn’t explain the Fellowship’s rationale in forgoing a carpool ride to Mordor via the giant eagles. As odd as it sounds, seemingly minuscule imperfections like a plot hole involving the eagles in Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring lessened my opinion of the film. In my eyes my once favorite film’s purity was ruined.
I had the same problem with Star Wars. As a young child, I adored Star Wars to the point that I’d rewatch films from the original trilogy multiple times a day and would even make home video adaptations using Star Wars toys and official merch (if I can find one of these videos, I’ll post it on YouTube). As a young adult with undiagnosed mental health problems however, I felt miffed by the prequel trilogy. Like too many fans and internet edge lords, I maintained the opinion that George Lucas ruined my love of Star Wars. My internal feelings about the original trilogy diminished due to my hatred of the prequels. I detested the nonsensical story in The Phantom Menace, the god awful slow pace of Attack Of The Clones, and the terrible dialogue prominent in the entirety of the prequel trilogy. For awhile, my unhealthy mind couldn’t reconcile the good Star Wars films from the bad.
At the time, I believed that the prequel trilogy’s only redeeming qualities involved the Red Letter Media YouTube videos responding to how awful the films were. The polarizing cathartic YouTube takedowns provided an outlet for my frustration with the Star Wars franchise. Hell, I’ll admit it: I became obsessed. Immediately after first viewing the channel’s 70 minute evisceration of The Phantom Menace, I shared the Red Letter Media videos at every opportunity, and quoted the Mr. Plinkett character, a serial killer Star Wars lunatic, to the point of annoyance. The videos were cynical with a capital C. I loved them.
I now, however, regret enjoying Red Letter Media so much. While the Plinkett videos contain solid points and perspectives, they aren’t the gold standard of YouTube/ internet Star Wars discourse that I once believed they were. Looking back, the Plinkett videos way over emphasized the importance of plot holes and used edge lord and borderline offensive comedy to destructive effect. After watching them for years, I hated the prequels more than I loved Star Wars as a whole.
I became cynical and that’s a very dangerous mindset for someone with OCD. Even if this wasn’t Red Letter Media’s intent, my OCD plagued mind began disliking movies with even the flimsiest plot hole. My overactive mind ensured that I couldn’t get into acclaimed games like Metal Gear Solid 5 or fun popcorn movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Whenever I tried to like a movie or game, my heart would pound while my brain worked overtime, over analyzing the story for any sort of narrative inconsistency or plot hole. Hell, I even hated Disney’s animated Rapunzell film Tangled because characters (in a film about magic hair) defied real world physics. Yes, I really was that much of a joykill.
This state of mind was unhealthy for me. My newly overly cynical mindset and my predisposition to be hyper critical due to my undiagnosed OCD were a toxic combination. While trying to watch blockbuster movies like Avengers or Batman, I just couldn’t focus on the story or having fun. I could only dwell on negative nitpicks. I no longer enjoyed escaping to the movies, playing video games, or reading comics, and as a result, I became a miserable grump.
My 2016 hospitalization changed my negative perspective. During a two week stay at a psych ward, I was diagnosed with severe obsessive compulsive disorder and was finally receiving effective treatment via medication and therapy that I continue to this day. Due to the treatment, my once overly critical mindset began to retreat. I, to my surprise, started to enjoy movies and video games again. Eventually, the notion that a plot hole could ruin a film was, to my realization, its own logical inconsistency. Cynicism was a fallacy in and of itself.
This epiphany was a breakthrough for me. With the help of medication and therapy, I was able to embrace a film or game’s imperfections. I fell back in love with the Star Wars movies again in spite of the horrible prequels! I adored The Lord Of The Rings again even with the plothole involving the eagles! I was hooked on The Last Jedi upon release! Even though I didn’t care for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, I disliked the film for reasons that had nothing to do with nitpicks or minor logical fallacies, and even more importantly, I didn’t let the fact I was disappointed by the sequel trilogy’s conclusion ruin my reverence for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi! That’s a big deal for me, especially considering that this new healthy state of mind was once an impossibility!
Now I understand the truth. Bad movies are just bad movies. Films like the Star Wars prequels or the middling The Rise Of Skywalker don’t negate great films like The Empire Strikes Back or The Last Jedi. In fact, bad movies emphasize the miracle of good films. The original Star Wars trilogy I was obsessed with as a child is still great. In this regard, George Lucas didn’t ruin my childhood. He shaped it.