Why I call Star Wars a kid’s franchise

From time to time I rather facetiously like to brand Star Wars a kids franchise. I uses to assume that it was aimed at adolescents and post adolescents – roughly the same audience as, say, Star Trek. Yet, especially since the franchise was taken over by Disney, I have taken pleasure in teasing Star Wars fans that theirs is a children’s franchise. Yet, the question arises, is it? What’s the difference between a children’s franchise and one aimed at adults? To me, Star Wars seems to lack a maturity adult franchises have: it has more in common with Harry Potter than The Lord Of The Rings; it’s characters more crudely drawn, it’s plots simpler. To my mind, Star Wars tries to claim gravitas for itself, but that gravitas is frittered away by the inclusion of absolutely infantile things like having aniken skywalker race tie fighters. Darth Vader was once one of the most awesome, menacing villains in film, but knowing he was part of such a childish sequence, cheered on by the cringeworthy Jar Jar binx, places him firmly besides the likes of Jafar and Sheer Kahn. The light sabre was once an iconic weapon, yet it was rendered a mere prop for martial arts stunts in the newer films; the equivalent of Mithrandir’s mighty staff became a hogwarts students wand, stripped of iconic weight in favour of a far more shallow type of coolness. Adding the second blade to the light sabre was the semiotic equivalent of a dose of monosodium glutamate: it may have looked cool, yet, because it was done only to look good and to bring in the bucks, the change lacked any artistic merit.

I get the impression that George Lucas sees himself as cinema’s equivalent of JRR Tolkien, a claim that has always struck me as highly presumptuous: contrary to what he and his fans claim, his creations do not have anywhere near the complexity or detail of Tolkien’s. Lucas is just a self-promoting hack; the producer of kid’s films which he passes off as for adults. I mean, how can anyone claim Jar Jar Binx ranks alongside characters like Samwise Gamgee or Spock? Star Wars did once belong among film’s great sagas, but these days it’s for children. I’m sorry, star wars fans, but as far as I’m concerned, you’re obsessing over kid’s films.

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