One of the first movies I saw in a theater was Return of the Jedi and I loved it. It had action, it had romance, it had humor, it had an appealing lead in Luke Skywalker, it had Ewoks and catch phrases and excitement but most of all it was fun. The perfect movie for a seven-year-old. Me and my two brothers had already watched Star Wars, which we’d also loved, but we hadn’t watched the Empire Strikes Back yet. So, (this is back in the older times) we implored our mom to go rent a VHS player (Yes, yes, very olden times) and the Empire Strikes Back.

We liked it. Sort of. It was good. I guess. Not nearly as much fun as the other two movies. Good moments though. Not as funny. Darker. We weren’t disappointed, exactly, but none of us really wanted to watch it again. My older brother would have been nine, my younger five. It was fine for us. But nowhere near as beloved as the other two movies.

Sure, now, as an adult I can appreciate the movie but because I didn’t love it as a kid I can’t seem to love it as an adult.

This isn’t a post about the Empire Strikes Back. It’s a post about growing up and how some people are selfish about what they love. They want to Own the thing and keep it only for themselves.

Return of the Jedi is hated by some, partly it’s Boba Fett Fetishists (how dare they kill the coolest character in all of space and time in such an ignominious fashion?! He went out on a beach, like a beach!), but partly I think it might also be because of that generation’s desire to Own all of Star Wars. Let me explain before you throw things at the screen.

Say you were ten years old when you watched Star Wars in 1977, and you were the perfect age for that movie. You loved it. It was your world. Awesome. Three years later you were now Thirteen and Empire comes out and it’s darker, grittier, more ‘grown up’ and you are the perfect age for that movie. Three years later when you’re sixteen Return of the Jedi comes out and it’s the perfect movie for a ten year old again. An expectation was set up that the next film would be perfect for you, the other two were. But this new one? No, it isn’t. It didn’t grow with you this time.

But if Return of the Jedi was the perfect movie for sixteen-year-old you (even darker, edgier, less humor, more war, skimpier Slave Leia costume… okay that part would have been cool, the good guys losing or having a pyrrhic victory at best), it wouldn’t have been for me. First, we wouldn’t have been allowed to go see it, and even if we were allowed to see it, it wouldn’t have worked for us. We’d have been bored. It wouldn’t have been for successive generations; Star Wars would have been for that first generation primarily and the rest of us could like it if we liked but it wasn’t meant for us. It was for those ten-year-olds (and up) that saw and loved the first one.

The Star Wars prequels decided to go down that road and grow up with the generation that was ten years old when Phantom Menace came out. That generation seems to think Revenge of the Sith is good. But if you encountered the prequels now, all at once, at ten years old, would that be the case? Or would you be bored? Disturbed? Not allowed to watch it? Good God, the climax is the bad dude getting his limbs chopped off by the good dude. You had to be a certain age at every one of those movies to get them, and that was a deliberate choice. That’s why Anakin is ten (or so) in Phantom (it’s for ten-year- olds), why he’s falling in love with a beautiful girl in Clones (it’s for thirteen-year-olds), that’s why the world sucks and adults suck and everything sucks and the world sucks and it all sucks, especially adults (who suck) in Sith (it’s for sixteen-year-olds).

Another, and probably better example of this strange phenomenon is the Harry Potter books. If you were the right age when the books started getting popular it was great that they grew up with you. However, imagine the poor eight-year-old who encounters Harry Potter for the first time today. He or she loves the first one, devours the second and third, and then they get to the fourth one and it’s three times as long.

They hit the wall. They want to go on but they don’t have the reading skills (some do, but most don’t), either they struggle through it (reading a book shouldn’t feel like climbing a mountain) or they give up and come back to it later. Will they love it the same? Or will they be annoyed at the book they couldn’t read?

Not that Harry Potter is in any danger of not being read, but I would say it won’t have the same effect on the coming generations as it did on that first one. If all the books had been written for eight-year-olds like the first three? Every eight-year-old in the world who fell in love with the first three would fall in love with all the rest. No stopping, no struggling, it’s meant for your generation, and the next, and the next, until Harry Potter (like all things) falls out of style. You share the love with the first generation.

Maybe that’s part of what made it special for that generation, maybe the sixteen-year-olds who read the first book at eight and the last book at sixteen loved the fact it grew with them.

And they’re not wrong. They got it in the way no one else after them could.

That might be better but I think it’s more likely to limit whatever media decides to grow up with one generation to that one generation.

May they enjoy it when trying to explain why it was awesome to succeeding generations who just don’t get it. And never will. Because it’s not for them.