the phantom menace

The Saga’s Never Over (Probably) (Also, Spoilers) (Also, Long Boring Descriptions Of Troubled Childhood)

Once upon a time in 1999, when I was a wee child of elevenish, I went to see The Phantom Menace. You gotta understand, it was a long hot summer, and there was nothing but The Phantom Menace and the marital troubles of my parents. Me and my siblings were shifted around. According to my childhood journal, we spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house, a three hours drive away from the family home, being distracted by a variety of children’s entertainment. We went to a theme park, went to the beach, went to Warwick Castle with our cousins. At one point, I remember, we were taken to a sort of daycare center run by people who gave no indication that they liked kids or had ever been them. (I saw Jurassic Park, a film primarily about an adult learning to not disparage the interests of children, for the first time at that place.) For a few weeks we went to the home of a childminder who kept an eye on us. And throughout all that I was just clinging to this stupid movie about space samurai and teenage girls with laser guns.

(I promise this does actually have plenty to do with The Rise of Skywalker, okay?)

I remember that us and the childminder and a buncha other kids went to the rec for a picnic. Every damn box of food had a character from Star Wars on it. I loved it. Free toys in the boxes, too! I hoarded them all, even those horrible little Jar Jar tongue things which had no purpose beyond getting immediately sticky and gross and having to be thrown away. Oh and later we even got a friggin’ Naboo Starfighter tent!

Basically what I’m saying is, Star Wars was my childhood. The Star Wars prequels were my childhood. In a strange, far-off, voice-on-the-wind type way. When Attack of the Clones came out, it was the first time I was allowed to go to the cinema with no adult supervision, so that was cool. I was a bit older for Revenge of the Sith. My 2005 ‘review’ of it is somewhere on this blog, brought over from one of the archives, and it’s incredibly cringeworthy because being a teenager is incredibly cringeworthy. Anyway.

Those voices on the wind briefly returned for this movie, when Rey finds herself suddenly the avatar of all the Jedi who came before her. Among the voices she hears are Obi-Wan, Mace, Qui-Gon, Ahsoka (!!!) and Anakin. And here we’re getting into the weird space where Who Actually Owns Characters, Really? but it was nice, you know, to hear the voices that once encouraged me come back to encourage Rey.

I sort of did a laugh-cry in the theatre, which is probably also cringeworthy, sorry.

Maybe Rise of Skywalker actually is Objectively A Terrible Movie, as an awful lot of movies lots of people like seem to quickly become Objectively Terrible Movies, who knows? There was plenty of stuff I didn’t like. Really, I absolutely hate and am infuriated that Rose’s screentime was reduced, because I can guess why they did it. That’s horrible. What happened to this scene?

(Also I know the background same-sex kiss has come in for a reckoning, and I understand the problem with it but I just can’t bring myself to be overly mad in any way, because I feel like, I know there must be a child out there who spots it and feels better without understanding the wider problems of representation, and even if that lasts for so little time…at least it happens)

Anakin’s force ghost makes no appearance beyond the voice, which is very disappointing. And honestly, almost nothing about Palpatine makes sense in this film. But that one cry-laugh-with-joy moment was enough for me, and if it’s not enough for you that is also fine.

I very strongly suspect there will be another Star Wars trilogy somewhere down the line. All the people involved are saying “That’ll never happen!” but it’s Disney and they know where the money is. Also, it’s a story about war and there’s always war, we know that. Always kids fighting around the ruins of the last one. I don’t know if I’ll like any even newer movies, because honestly I’ve never been certain whether or not I like the sequels, they just make me feel stuff.

It’s hard when the voices in your head become the voices in someone else’s. But that’s life, and it’s normal, and I’m glad I was here to see it.

Today Ahmed Best posted a picture of himself and his son on Twitter along with this message:

(“20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know.”)

……..so yeah, everything that happened to him, the harassment, the backlash, it was that bad. All through our growings up as Star Wars fans that was happening in the background. That lovely man nearly died.

There’s nothing I can add to that but I wanted to encourage people to leave him messages of support on the Twitter post. It must have taken a huge amount of guts to put that story on social media in the first place.

#weloveyouahmed

Star Wars movies and their reception, by the numbers