By Tim Mucci
A clear staple of geek culture is the near-universal adoration for the original three Star Wars films. They are the standard to which many current science fiction, adventure, and fantasy films are held. They embody mythic storytelling; they evoke a simpler time and recast the strong-jawed heroes and buxom waifs of the space operas that came before; and they depict scrappy farm kids, morally gray scoundrels, and courageous royalty. It is, as the Epic of Gilgamesh was to the Mesopotamians, an epic in our lifetime.
Episodes IV, V, and VI are classic films and should be enjoyed with the entire family. Your responsibility as a parent, keeping the legacy of the Star Wars universe untainted, is this:
Never let your children watch Episodes I, II, and III.
It’s a controversial opinion, I know, but you’ll have to trust me—a life without Jar Jar Binks is a good life indeed.
Of course, your kid will eventually find out that the prequel episodes exist, perhaps from being astute enough to notice that A New Hope starts with the words “Episode IV,” or just by simply living in an age of constantly fluid information.
If they ask about Episodes I–III, sit them down and show them the movie The Ring—or something else that will terrify them and stop them asking questions about the first three episodes of Star Wars. If they persist, tell them that they must have slipped into an alternate reality where those movies were never made.
If they can see through this ruse, then you must take the ultimate step in parental responsibility and never let them see those movies!
Instead, use this as an opportunity to bond geek-to-geek. Engage their imagination and your own by viewing the movies alone beforehand, finding the good parts, teasing out the intrigue and the characters, and then telling it to your young geek Jedi apprentice as a story.
Take the movies that we have, and make them into what they should have been. Share with your kids that sense of wonder you felt about Star Wars as a kid.
Tell them the story of how the power-hungry Darth Sidious masqueraded as the kindly Senator Palpatine and clawed his way up from senator to emperor, leaving the galaxy shattered and subjugated. Tell them the story of Anakin Skywalker, a troubled young warrior, gifted with power, used and manipulated by both friend and foe. Tell them the tale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a brash and capable young man thrust into responsibility he wasn’t ready for, and wasn’t strong enough to master. Or of Padmé Amidala, a courageous ruler, unafraid to wield political and martial power, who is undone by love.
Embellish and retcon, fix plot holes, and flesh out characters. Make it epic and stirring, and eventually when your kids finally do see Episodes I, II, and III, they’ll always think, “My parents’ version was better.”
Of course, the reality is that as a geek, you’ll be happy watching Episodes I–III with your geeklings. For all their flaws, they’re fun to watch as a family. And of course, when you finally relent, you can also share the excellent Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series with them, for which it’s totally worth sitting through the prequel movies.