When I was younger, I adored the original Star Wars trilogy. The three films together are connected to a lot of my fondest childhood memories. In my 11 year old eyes, Luke, Han, and Leia may as well have been the Holy Trinity, with George Lucas being their earthly embodiment- a man who could do no wrong. However this changed with the release of Episode I. At 13, I knew deep down that I didn't like this film. Still, I felt intensely conflicted about it- that I needed to like it for reasons I couldn't explain, that I held some unspoken obligation to a thing or person I couldn't identify. So I latched onto the parts of the film I did like, and ignored the rest.
As time passed, it became harder and harder to like Star Wars. In the span of time between Episode I and II, I realized that the Star Wars books did not appeal to me- with massive chunks of their narratives filled with tedious descriptions of spaceships ships which I slogged through out of that same sense of nameless obligation. Some of the plots and characters in the 'Extended Universe' I would find absurd or lazily constructed but accepted them simply because they were a part of Star Wars. Finally with the release of Episode II, I realized this film series wasn't 'good' anymore, and that Star Wars was no longer 'fun' to me, but a chore.
Being much older now and looking back, I am writing this with the intent of trying to pinpoint why it is that I currently have such an intense distaste toward the franchise despite the existence of a revitalized set of films- ones that I have not seen but understand to be good or at least much, much better than the prequels.
I believe what bothers me currently is that I see my 13 year old self in many adult Star Wars fans. When I see huge gatherings of people at events related to Star Wars ('Force Friday' or trailer releases) I see people who may like Star Wars, but like it unquestioningly. They use these events and the purchasing of Star Wars merchandise to form their personality- liking Star Wars (and other franchises of the same ilk) – become a personality trait. I realize now that this was the source of my 'nameless obligation'. For so long, I had been 'the kid who liked Star Wars' and I was not ready to let that go. Star Wars was an element that formed my identity. And while this might be acceptable for a child who is ignorant of the world, I feel it is sad to see adults who have such empty lives that a corporate franchise is the 'something' that completes it, and that dumping money into plastics formed into the shape of characters, some of which have only seconds on screen, gives them a sense of community and validation.
I don't want to come across as someone who is arrogant or someone who looks down on people who enjoy 'mainstream media'. I don't believe there is anything wrong with enjoying a film, music, books, or sports. I do, however, believe there is something deeply wrong when liking a specific thing which you have no direct ties to and cannot actually contribute to in any way, other than financially, is considered of great importance in someone's life. I find it sad that someone would prefer to be 'the one who likes Star Wars' rather than 'the one who is fluent in another language' or 'the one who can repair anything' or 'the one who loves to write'. Entertainment provides an identity without actually having to work towards anything- you don't need to give anything, you just need to watch the film and buy the merchandise.
If I told people this, they may reply with something dismissive- “ it's not that deep” or “ let people like things” or “you're over analyzing, it's just a movie” - but I believe statements such as those assuage them of the discomfort they feel when confronted with such ideas. People do not like to look inward and question why they like the things they like, because ultimately if they find no deeper reason than because a film series or franchise gives them something to identify themselves with- being 'the person who likes Star Wars' or 'the nerdy friend'- it can be very upsetting to confront such a fact about themselves.