My most significant childhood memory takes me back to first grade in May 1977. As usual, I woke up on a Saturday morning to watch Zoom, a television variety show starring seven kids who would run around, sing, tell jokes and invite other kids to send in ideas. On this particular morning, my father turned the show off. I started crying, not only because I was going to miss Bernadette do her “arm thing,” but I couldn’t understand why I was being punished.
My dad smiled. His eyes expanded, and I didn’t know if I should have been scared or thrilled.
“We’re going to see Star Wars!” he said, acting as if I should be excited. I was young, but I realized that if I acted happy, he would be happy as well.
We soon arrived at the theater. I thought I should at least give the movie a chance. Unfortunately, the experience was far more traumatic than I ever thought it would be.
I don’t remember much except that I despised Star Wars. I had never hated a movie with such intensity and still haven’t. Even to my young mind, this film wasn’t science fiction; it was science parody. I thought the Star Wars characters were boring and unintentionally frightening.
R2-D2 was an annoying third-rate robot whose beeping pierced my eardrums. I was angry that Chewbacca was a bigger but far more irritating version of Chaka from Land of the Lost. Not realizing that two men couldn’t produce a child, I told my dad that Chewbacca seemed like the child of Chaka and Scooby Doo. And what was that rat in Princess Leia’s hair?
My juvenile mind was even able to sense that the Star Wars dialogue was contrived and boring, and I certainly wasn’t the only one who thought so. Gizmodo notes that old letter from Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi, revealed that he regretted his role: “New rubbish dialogue reaches me every day and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable.”
Fast forward six years later. My mom wakes me up with a smile resembling my dad’s from six years earlier. She said she was going to call me in sick to school so that we could bond by camping out for the first showing of Return of the Jedi. I told her I would much rather go to school.
Still, I couldn’t escape Star Wars for the next couple months. I wanted to jump out the car window every time that Ewok song came on the radio. The next Halloween, all my friends dressed up as different Star Wars characters. I dressed up as Boy George—something my friends laugh about to this day. At least my costume was creative.
Now, it’s 1999. I’m a teacher. In anticipation for Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, my eighth grade students had Star Wars folders, shirts, backpacks and everything else. I was preparing a lesson on character analysis and thought my students would respond better if we talked about the new Star Wars film. After seeing the film opening weekend, I decided the lesson would instead be on character and cultural stereotyping.
Forget the amateurish plot, the violence, and the desperate attempts to produce humor for kids. The most disgusting thing in this awful picture was Jar Jar Binks, a character far more menacing than Freddie Krueger, Jason, Chucky or Pennywise the Clown.
Jar Jar was supposed to be a cute character like C-3PO and Chewbacca but ended up being one of the most hated characters of all time. While I wasn’t the type to scream “racism,” Mr. Binks was certainly a negative stereotype of Jamaicans and Caribbean people. His movements, accent, and overall demeanor mocked black culture, although the man who played him, Ahmed Best, denied this. Still, his presence resulted in interesting conversations with my students, most whom thought people were unfairly overanalyzing Jar Jar.
I found relief by completely forgetting about Star Wars for the next 15 years. In 2015, all the pain came back with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I avoided the film like the plague, but judging from box office receipts, I was the only one. I’m planning to avoid Star Wars: The Last Jedi when it comes out in December.
Perhaps I’m a bitter and miserable person. Perhaps my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, especially since I had no problem seeing Howard the Duck three times in 1986. So, let’s take a look at others who couldn’t care less about Star Wars.
Jade Lehar, a millennial college professor in Southern California, has committed the ultimate sin among her generation: never seeing any Star Wars movies.
“There are so many movies out there that are amazing, but I think society is stuck on this one right now because it’s trendy to be nerdy and nostalgic,” she tells me, adding that she cannot stand the series’ commercialism.
Jeanette Settembre, a millennial columnist for the New York Daily News, says exactly what a lot of other Star Wars haters are thinking: “Still, I haven’t seen a second of the six-movie snoozefest—and have no intention of starting now. So what if the Millennium Falcon can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, I’d rather fly to Miami in three hours. And if I wanted to feel the true power of the Dark Side, I’d eat the chocolate part of a black and white cookie.”
But it’s not only millennial reporters who are coming out of the closet about Star Wars. THR’s veteran columnist Stephen Galloway notes that not only are the original trio of Star Wars movies artistically uninspiring when compared to other movies from the same time, but that the franchise inspired brands that became more important than the artistry behind them. There’s the “I HATE STAR WARS” Facebook page and several Reddit pages dedicated to ripping apart the franchise.
It’s true that every big phenomenon produces haters. Throwing shade at something people love has been a pop culture sporting event for decades. But that shouldn’t deter from the fact that the people who dislike Star Wars have valid reasons for doing so. We Star Wars detractors will not hide our heads in silence any longer!
Daryl Deino is a writer, actor and civil rights activist who has appeared on shows such as The Untouchables, Parks and Recreation and Two Broke Girls. Besides writing for Observer, he has also written extensively about technology, entertainment and social issues for sites such as the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Inquisitr and IreTron. Follow him on Twitter: @ddeino.