A short disclaimer: as I’ve written before, I am a huge Star Wars fan. However, I must be the only Star Wars fan not remotely excited about the release of the films on Blu-ray for one simple reason: It is impossible to take Star Wars seriously now. Last fall, I wrote about the mixed messages sent by The Clone Wars cartoon, but since then, things have gotten even worse. At this point, other than the The Clone Wars, the only official endorsed Star Wars products that have hit the screens recently are spoofs either in the form of the Robot Chicken or Family Guy specials. Then this week, we were treated to a trailer for the Lego Star Wars cartoon special, which looks to serve up even more spoofy, non-serious Star Wars action. And the cover art for the Blu-ray box set of all the films is the ultimate visual representation of just how far the Force has fallen.
Infamously, in all the contemporary interviews about the prequels, Lucas delighted in saying how the Star Wars movies were “always for children.” One doesn’t have to be a Jedi master to understand how absurd this claim is. I don’t care how hardcore of a parent you want to be, but showing them Revenge of the Sith in which the hero slaughters children and is nearly burned to death by his best friend isn’t a movie for little kids. Nor is a film in which space politics are endlessly debated in a space senate designed to be for kids. Nor, for that matter is a film in which the hero’s father chops off his son’s hand. Star Wars might be aimed towards adolescents, yes. But children? Give me a break.
However, this revisionism is clearly the direction Star Wars is heading in. Nearly every single Star Wars thing that has been released in the post-prequel era is aimed at kids or is really immature. The Clone Wars cartoon, the new improved Star Tours Ride, recent video games, and the aforementioned spoofs. Now I know The Family Guy and Robot Chicken spoofs are NOT aimed at children, but I do maintain they are highly immature. How many times must we endure a “joke” which simply relies on the fact that we’ve all seen Star Wars? This is the kind of stuff children would come up with, and it’s quite frankly, completely boring. Also, when you’re at the point where Lucas is endorsing these spoofs, the purpose of the satire becomes lost. The only people that had any guts in this regard were the South Park guys insofar as they genuinely criticized Lucas and Spielberg in relation to Indiana Jones. When the creator is endorsing the satire, you may as well be getting patted on the head for your good work. Like a little child.
The Lego Star Wars TV special is the ultimate extension of this nonsense. The powers behind Star Wars know they are going for the little kid demographic, and they also know all those spoofs have done well with fans, so now they’ve decided to make a “funny” Star Wars Lego special. Great. Once this fictional universe wasn’t about pandering to the lowest brow possible, but instead was an entertaining story, told in an original way with some real zeal and heart. A computer generated Lego Emperor making vague references to the real Emperor is perhaps one of the more depressing things I’ve seen in ages.
And here’s where the Blu-ray cover art comes in. It demonstrates perfectly where Star Wars is right now. We see little kid Anakin walking towards us, an immature whiny child; the future of Star Wars. Meanwhile, Luke is turning his back to us and, on top of that, is ghostly. Do children even remember Luke, or care that he even exists? Luke Skywalker is nothing more than the subject of Seth MacFarlane/Seth Green imitations and vague representations in crummy Lego cartoons. To the average 9-year-old, is Luke even relevant? From what I’ve experienced, children all prefer Anakin or worse, one of the Clone Troopers. Luke is dead now. The story of Star Wars has been taken away from Luke, and so, he walks away from us, a ghost of his former self. Just like Star Wars itself.
The promises of deleted scenes from the wonderful movies that started this whole thing aren’t nearly enough to get me excited about Star Wars on Blu-ray. Could there be something better? Was this commercial, materialistic self-referential identity crisis always bound to happen to Star Wars? Could we imagine Lucas going any other way? I don’t know, but I believe a better direction for Star Wars could have emerged. Star Wars helped fire my imagination, and I can imagine quite a bit. And it’s not this.
Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com.