After some contemplation, I came to the conclusion that Moviebob might be brushing the subject off a little too quickly in his appeal to "just let go".
So Episode 1 is a bad/mediocre movie? Yeah.
It's not the anti-christ of movies? On its own, no, but it's the kind of movie that hurts films in general because it's not only BAD, but massively lucrative. We have Star Wars to thank for the original Transformers after all (when the toy-merchandising turned out to be extremely profitable, but I'm getting ahead of myself here) and those in turn have lead to the abysmal, racist, and insulting Michael Bay Transformers movies, surprise surprise, rebooted after Star Wars made its mint.
So, about the oft-touted "You're a nostalgic snob, grow up" argument (a variant of which Bob uses here):
We wanted the Star Wars prequels to be just like the original movies solely so we could escape from adulthood? I can see the appeal of that argument. It's easy to summarily accuse, condemn and dismiss anyone who prefers the originals to the prequels as being purely nostalgic/retro. The fan rage for the prequels was legendary even before the whole Plinkett debacle.
Of course, I can name other beloved movies that had crippling/hated sequels (Highlander 2, anyone?) that didn't generate this degree of contempt. You can say it's just because of scale (Highlander isn't exactly well-known to the public at large), and to a degree that's part of my point: the original Star Wars films weren't merely a popular movie trilogy, they created and CHANGED our culture.
Fast-forward 20 years from the originals, and we finally get a chance to not only relive that culture (here's where it's easy to insert that appeal to nostalgia), but to EXPAND upon it; to close the circle. There were three movies left undone after all.
And what did the prequels do? They failed utterly to contribute anything of worth to that culture, and instead cashed in on it FIRST.
To me, the prequels aren't merely mediocre/bad movies (they are in a vacuum), but a symbol of what is wrong with movies today: Nostalgia exploitation.
They represent a rich, hateful old man who doesn't give a fuck about his film-craft (after whining ceaselessly for years about the state of the studio-system and becoming one of the biggest hypocrites in memory) exploiting a huge fanbase for *incredible* sums of cash. BILLIONS IN PROFITS. I do NOT exaggerate on that last point; Lucas himself is worth over 3 billion at this very moment and he wasn't the only one getting paid.
All the comic book and novel tie-ins that set up competent plot-lines that get summarily dismissed or contradicted in the actual films. The megatons of toys. The gobs upon gobs of video games. The promotional stunts.
It positively DWARFS any other franchise I know of in scale.
That is the true nature of Star Wars; the real culture it represents, and a point many are quick to make and summarily dismiss in favor of ripping the movies a new one, when it is in fact, the heart of the problem. (and it is here I disagree with the "Plinkett thesis", who also dismissed this problem with a wave of his hand).
George Lucas knew he had to make an appeal to fans of his old movies and inserted references to them all over the place. The pandering took precedence over any quality but the most superficial (CGI and choreography). Just think of how many superfluous elements were inserted into Episode II and III for the sake of either nostalgia or toy-inspiration. Go ahead and watch them again, and take a note every time you see something you've seen as a toy or part of a promotion, be it a scene, character, or object.
You'll see what I mean very quickly.
See, it's not that Lucas doesn't "get" fans. Oh, he understands them perfectly. And he knows how to piss them off; to manipulate them. Star Wars is an invincible marketing franchise at this point and Lucas knows it. He doesn't even have to try; that's why he green-lit remaking the PREQUELS in 3D.
And in retrospect, this is why these movies are so damned boring and unappealing to me; it has less to do with the detachment of nostalgia and dreaming of better years behind me (like I said in my previous post, I found Ep 1 BORING, not reviling or insulting) and more to do with how much extraneous crap is forced into the MOVIES solely for the sake of rampant merchandising.
To be honest, that realization makes me angry because it means I got played; exploited.
It's a positive affirmation that enjoying a series should mean nothing to me now, because otherwise, all I am is some puppet to an obscenely rich filmmaker pulling the strings. It makes me angry that I contributed to the problem because as I've seen from OTHER movies and franchises (Transformers, Twatlight, GI Joe, Fantastic Four, Smurfs, etc), it's mostly like going to get worse from here.
Franchising potential alone should not excuse a movie for sucking, but it's going to get them green-lit anyway, and Star Wars lead the charge.