I was perusing through some Star Wars fan sites I enjoy (most of the time) and came across another hate filled post about George Lucas’s fourth film in the Star Wars franchise; Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. It’s always been interesting to me how people feel the need to tell the world how much they dislike this particular film. The hatred and actual venom poured out towards Ahmed Best and Jake Lloyd for their portrayals of Jar Jar Binks and little Anakin Skywalker are both totally uncalled for and show how much these people really are losers in life. And like my mother taught me, “If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything at all.”
I started loving Star Wars back in 1977 when the movie first came out. I was very much like Eric Forman in That 70’s Show when he saw Star Wars for the first time. Mouth agape, heart beat rising and bated breath. Once the movie was over I couldn’t wait to see it again, and again. I’m sure I am somewhere in the neighborhood of having seen the original Star Wars movie of a thousand times or more. And it never gets old to me, and I know it never will. This is why I am so shocked every time I hear people complain about these movies.
The thing about The Phantom Menace was it showed us one of the most hated villains of all time while he is just an innocent little child. We knew (spoiler alert) going in that this kid would turn out to be the father of Luke Skywalker and turn the universe upside down, leaving a wake of destruction unlike anything seen before. I think people were hoping George would show us someone unlikeable, or intrinsically evil from the beginning. I thank God he didn’t. Anakin needs to be sweet, and willing to help, this is one of the things about his character which makes his fall so much greater in later movies.
George Lucas has said in more interviews than I can remember how he made these movies for kids. Why do people get so upset with characters like Jar Jar Binks, R2D2 & C3PO? What is wrong with a little comic relief? You have to remember when he released his movie back in 1977, the movies being shown at that time were gritty, dark and truthfully not a whole lot of fun. He wanted to bring back the types of movies he remembered from his childhood; ones that had adventure, suspense, and a little comedy in them. And I believe with the Star Wars movies he did just that; gave us movies we could enjoy and would stimulate our imaginations.
One of the fondest memories I have with my kids around this time was the Podracer game on our Nintendo, all four of us could race and we would laugh and taunt each other throughout the evenings. “Poodoo!” was one of our favorite phrases. Also my son Micah had a Jar Jar mask he would wear and walk around the house in that Jar Jar lope saying, “Meesa called Jar Jar Binks, whosa are yousa?”
I thank God George made these movies for kids to enjoy, because some of my best bonding times as a parent with my kids was around these movies. One funny little story, when they released Episode 2, Attack of the Clones in 3D, I took all three of my kids to see it. I told my youngest son Noah, “This is going to be so cool, Yoda is going to be 30 feet tall!” What I meant was the screen is three stories tall so it was going to be huge. When we were walking out of the theater, I asked him what he thought about the movie, and he said, “Yoda was the same.” I said, “What buddy?” and his reply was, “Dad, Yoda wasn’t a giant, he was the same size.” It was at this point I realized he had misunderstood what I’d said early and thought George changed Yoda from three feet tall to thirty. Ah the mind of a child, truly wonderful it is.
I wish people everywhere could let go of their fear, and just get along. It’s like Yoda told a teenage Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” And not to put a political spin on this, but isn’t this what we are seeing now? Fear leading to anger, anger leading to hate and hate leading to suffering? We need to forsake the dark side of the force as a society and follow the light side of the force; putting our own selfish ambitions aside, and as a true jedi look out for the needs of the many.
Well, there’s that, for the Kingdom and the King, shalom.