Trevor Bauer‘s revelation yesterday that “The Phantom Menace” is his favorite Star Wars movie caused a great disturbance on the Internet. It was as if millions of nerdy voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Maybe not all of America was shaken to its very core, but it shook those Americans who care about things like “having the correct opinions about science fiction/comic book/fantasy stuff.” Which, to be fair, is a part of America overrepresented among both writers and readers of this blog, so let’s talk about it, OK?
My first impulse upon hearing Bauer’s opinion on this was to call him a crazy person filled with a deep, dark wrongness. But then I remembered something: Bauer is 25. He was born in 1991. That means he was eight years old when “The Phantom Menace” came out. I was between the ages of 4 and 10 when the original trilogy came out. The Gen-X geeks who helped turn Star Wars into an international phenomenon were likewise overwhelmingly children during that original run too. Is it possible that we were wrong about those movies in the way we think Bauer is wrong about “The Phantom Menace?”
Hahaha, of course not. Those movies are good and “The Phantom Menace” sucked. But . . .
For as much love as adults have for the Star Wars franchise, it’s important to remember that love, in most cases developed when we were children. The prequels were deeply flawed and, in objective terms, pale compared to both the original trilogy and “The Force Awakens,” but when you’re eight years old like Bauer was, you like stuff for very different reasons than you do as an adult. My kids were around that age when they got into Star Wars stuff in a serious way. They liked the prequels, which they saw on DVD, a lot better than people my age did in 1999. Partially because they were kids. Partially because they didn’t have 16 years of pent up anticipation for something that only their younger selves could truly appreciate. The prequels sucked, but the original “Star Wars” wasn’t “Citizen Kane” either. We can admit that now, nearly 40 years later. It’s OK to admit that.
All of which is to say that I will let Bauer off the hook for this. For now. Liking “The Phantom Menace” has him on probation at most.
I won’t totally write him off unless he says “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” was good, in which case I’ll make it my personal mission to have him banned from baseball permanently.