Knocking It 'Til You've Tried It

It all started with my wife, really. I used to be a perfectly ordinary internet person before I met my wife. I visited my echo chambers, packed to the gills with “right thinking” individuals. Together, we railed against the slights perpetrated against us by the powerful few, secure in the knowledge that we were always on the side of angels. Dissenters were roundly and thoroughly mocked, cowed and ultimately silenced.

It was fun. It was safe. We even had little in-jokes that could be made with impunity, secure in the knowledge that nobody worth listening to could disagree.

Then, one day, my wife decided she wanted to watch all of the Star Wars movies, in order, and everything fell apart.

I am not the biggest fan Star Wars ever, but I am by my nature something of a purist. When I heard Lucas altered the original masters of the original trilogy to make his Enhanced Edition pet project, I was enraged. I refused to see the remasters, and refused to watch the prequels on general principle. Star Wars was as dead to me as Greedo.

I stewed in my rage for decades, chuckling at the Han Shot First tee shirts on, and holding on to my original, un-remastered VHS tapes of the original trilogy well past the day that I owned a television that could work with my VCR. I complained bitterly about the modifications Lucas had made to the movies that I had grown up with, and even more so complained about the ways that the prequels changed the understanding of the universe.

All while never having seen any of them. It was an article of faith that the prequels and the modifications were bad. Anyone who suggested otherwise wasn't worth hearing, let alone listening to. Fans of the new stuff were clearly dangerous lunatics, and, speaking as a dangerous lunatic, I objected to being tainted by association.

However no prejudice can last forever. As I mentioned, my wife wanted to see all of the Star Wars movies. I searched and searched for a DVD copy of the original trilogy that was unmolested by Lucas’ clumsy hands. I could endure the video quality of retouched laserdisc pan-n-scans if it meant seeing the movies as they were originally received. If my wife was to see A New Hope, then by Jenga she would see the proper version.

It was for naught. No original copies of the movie could be had for any price I was willing to pay. I relented, buying a Blu-Ray/DVD box set of the remastered editions. I consoled myself with knowing that, at least, I would finally know what I had been hating all these years.

What had changed? A few space ships looked prettier. Some alien creatures were added to the backgrounds, and there was a new scene using unused footage of Harrison Ford talking to a digital Jabba the Hutt. I spent more than a decade stewing in my own juices about this?

Surely the infamous Greedo scene would justify me. I had clung to that as evidence of Lucas’ malfeasance for so long that it must bear me out, mustn't it?

That was it? A split-second of blaster fire that I wouldn't even have known wasn't in the original if I didn't already know it wasn't in the original? This was the cross I bore for two decades? This is why I and everyone else were so angry? This?

The most infuriating part is not that I spent over a decade being infuriated by something so trivial, it's that I should have known better. Star Wars wasn't the first time I had worked myself into a righteous internet-based hatred over something I'd never seen. You might recall I confessed a fandom of Twilight in a previous article. I went through the same arc with Twilight as I did with the Lucas remasters. I spent years nodding along with the disdainful “sparkly vampires” jokes with the rest of you. Then one day my wife decided she wanted to see for herself, and we both got hooked on it. Suddenly I found myself not only eating crow, but ostracised from the echo chambers I’d found such comfort in.

It's an odd feeling for me. Not the ostracism – as anyone reading my articles long enough will attest, I'm not exactly Mr. Conventional Wisdom – no, the odd feeling is one of having belonged and then not belonging anymore. The echo chamber cannot abide discord, so I have to either bite my tongue or leave. I can't explain why the jokes are misinformed. Nobody wants to hear that. They want to continue to feel superior to lesser Star Wars fans or Twi-hards. By listening to myself, and developing my own voice, I've put myself into the position of being an enemy. I'm one of the stupid people that I used to so shamefully mock, secure in the knowledge that I'd never meet one.

But 2017 is a new year yet, so let's start fresh. I'd like to offer my sincere apologies to both George Lucas and Stephanie Meyer. I was wrong to mock you, and your work. I outsourced my opinion of the Remasters, and of Twilight, to their loudest critics. I treated dissenting opinions on the subject as beneath contempt.

I will not do that again. There are too many good things in the world that I would miss out on if I nayed with the sayers, rather than yayed with the makers.

I'll still make prejudgements about what ideas and media to consume (nobody can consume everything, after all), but the opinion will stop at “I don't want to see that.”

And if someone really wants me to see it, maybe I'll give it a go. Who knows? It might just be the next Twilight.


Ooooh boy. Hot-button political topics, in this emotionally charged partisan age.

Doubtingthomas, I sincerely hope your forays into apolitical un-correctness don't tear our community asunder.

You can love something and yet still be disappointed when parts of it are changed after years of being "just right", especially if the changes are for the worse. That spirit you fell in love with is still there - hang on to that, protect it, and know that generations from now your decedents will continue to love it and benefit from it's existence.

You can also love Star Wars after George Lucas brutally edited it, too. Han starting off as a "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later" kind of rogue is what made his character arc so satisfying. And what passed for "High Tech CGI" in the 90's wouldn't be acceptable on basic cable nowadays.

The bummer about re-editing Han Shooting First was that it was unnecessary. That scene doesn't make sense re-edited because the build up in that scene is clearly Han stalling so he can unclip his blaster. The re-edit also made Han lucky, rather than crafty.

Up until then director's cuts had been about adding to a story after previously being restrained or putting in extra stuff for fans that wasn't quite cinema grade. This was Lucas just retconning stuff for no apparent reason, and it didn't bode well for the prequels.

I would not watch them in my home.
I would not watch them on my phone.
I would not buy them at the store
To watch on Blu-Ray PS4.
Not on a Mac! Not on PC!
Not on iPad! You let me be!
I do not like the new Star Wars!
I do not like them, Lucas-George!

Re: Hero image

Mmm. Soundproofed meat.

Good read. Thanks, Greg.

It's a good point. I've been that person - my big memorable one was Cowboy Bebop. I listened to someone at church who went off on it, and didn't watch it for several years. It was my kids who dragged it up in front of me and made me realize my source was on crack, and I've happily loved it ever since.

I try to be careful; I read all four Twilight books before beginning to knock them, just to make sure I wasn't in your spot.

Also, I reserve the right to knock Riverdale and never try it, because really.

I think the problem is the degree in which things are taken personally.

The existence of Twilight is almost treated like an insult. The change of Han shooting first retcons his character in a way that lessens the film, but it and many of the other changes certainly don't make it unwatchable. It's just disappointing that better versions of the films existed, and now no one is releasing them leaving you with no choice but the worse versions.

But in the grand scheme of things it's nothing to make a big deal over. Criticisms are valid, but more often it is ridicule and outright bullying. If you feel the need to unleash your feelings in such a hostile fashion, then I think there's something else going on that you need to deal with personally.

Yes, but Greg, righteous indignation felt really good for that decade, didn't it?

And in a world where there is an embarrassment of entertainment riches, you can easily write off entire genres, sight-unseen, and still not be quantatively "missing out" any more than you would if you dove deep into that genre, at the inevitable expense of some other entertainment outlet.

I haven't touched a single piece of sparkly vampire media. But you know what else I haven't touched? Most of The Witcher 3, which is shaping up to be the best piece of fantasy media I've consumed in decades. The last book my favorite author wrote before his death. Numerous seasons of Deadwood.

When I look at the overwhelming preponderance of incredible media available to me, the absurdity of "missing out" seems stark, given how inevitable it is.

I didn't hate the prequels, they just weren't very good, except the first one. He also made the Death Star explosion look stupid by putting in a CGI ring. I just don't get why he wanted to edit them so much.
And as others have mentioned, Han shot first/only, because even if he didn't, the editing to make it look like he dodged his head (IIRC) was incredibly poor.

I get it but nevertheless the Harmy Despecialized Editions of the original triology are beautiful restorations of the original theatrical releases.'s_Despecialized_Edition

Felix Threepaper wrote:

Also, I reserve the right to knock Riverdale and never try it, because really.

You are in the clear.