Last week they turned their attention to Valentine’s Day and this week they get back to the topic at hand. Here follows the explanation for the two-part video debate over which franchise is this generation’s iconic fantasy/sci-fi epic: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars prequels.

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Chris: So there you have it, our first three man debate. Yup, all three of us at once, debating a single topic. Three different points of view, colliding and meshing and … okay, I’m at a loss for how to continue on here. What is this generation’s Star Wars? Shame on us for failing to properly address that.

And this may actually be a fault of Dan. You see, Dan came up with this debate, and in doing so it was his duty to properly explain what the heck Generation Y actually is and what it means to be said generation’s Star Wars. After two debates, the general consensus seems to favor a lot of my arguments when it comes to a phenomenon, a lot of Dan’s arguments when it comes to quality, and Kyle’s arguments when it comes to “Lol, Star Wars is Star Wars.”

Okay, that’s harsh to say about Kyle’s argument, but I am a little surprised he didn’t really hammer home how just because the original trilogy didn’t come out in theaters for the first time when we were kids, it did get a special edition VHS release, an awesome DVD with an awesome documentary, and I’d like to remember another theatrical run, though that last one may just be my past life as an Egyptian Trekkie bleeding over into this current consciousness.

Dan’s points about Lord of the Rings, sadly enough, didn’t carry the weight they should have. No no, I’m not just hatin’ because we’re arguing and my side is clearly more correct, but Dan had a winner on his hands if he had utilized a lot of my arguments against me. For one, Lord of the Rings is incredibly profitable beyond just being respected. It has spun off into a number of well-received video games, the notion of the truly fantastic Special Edition, and isn’t pure literary poison like my side (for more on why Harry Potter is literary poison, please refer to my past life as an Elizabethan female struggling to make it as a writer in a man’s world).

Furthermore, Lord of the Rings is the true genesis for book series getting turned into big budget movie adaptations. The first Harry Potter movies are just fine of course, but the books themselves aren’t really ambitious, if we want to get serious. Harry Potter is formulaic simplicity. Lord of the Rings is a sweeping epic, and a huge risk to take for a three-part movie shot simultaneously, something that also became en vogue despite Back to the Future doing it first (though it didn’t portray the Old West nearly as accurately as I’d have liked, having been an old prospector in yet another past life).

Though none of this matters next to Kyle’s ace-in-the-hole: Jedi. He had Jedi and he didn’t use them. This shows great restraint on his part, but while kids are zooming around these days pretending they’re on broomsticks and fighting Balrogs and whatnot, one kid on the playground will always walk up to the other two, wave his hand while saying “These aren’t the Droids you’re looking for,” and then vwing vwing and say he chopped off their hands. If wielded correctly, Kyle could have stopped us both in our place despite my flawless logic and Dan’s ravenous good looks. Search your feelings; you know it to be true.

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Kyle: Lots of missed arguments this week. Maybe, too many cooks in the kitchen? Let’s start with Dan’s LOTR arguments.

One big reason why Peter Jackson’s trilogy is the next Star Wars is the advancement in special effects that it spawned. Because of Andy Serkis as Gollum, motion capture became a viable effect, the same way Star Wars revolutionized special effects with the creation of ILM. Those movies even impressed with forced perspective and a special computer animation technology that programmed detailed individual movement of over a hundred characters in a wide shot.

Also, LOTR really embodies what a blockbuster tentpole film is for a newer generation. While Star Wars had re-releases in theaters, LOTR had the Extended DVD releases. While Star Wars had behind-the-scenes footage, LOTR had full-length special features and like seven commentaries each.

Chris, on the other hand, had some good points about Harry Potter. He missed a significant parallel between his saga and the mighty Original Trilogy, however: in the seventies, science fiction was very dreary and dark. Star Wars changed the game completely, making sci-fi bright and hopeful again, and a string of imitations followed suit.

Harry Potter did the same. Magic and sorcery was exclusive to the horror and drama genres in the 1990’s, and then there was the boy who lived. Suddenly, the horrors of blood sucking monsters and the devil’s witchcraft are primarily for kids and teens to get their hormones out. It’s a bright little world of possibility and every writer on the planet rushed to follow suit.

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Dan: I was about to find offence at Chris’ mentioning that I failed to properly define the debate, but then he said that I am pretty, so all is forgiven. What can I say, as a journalism major I basically have a college degree in looking good on camera. But enough about how you as fans should start sending me love letters and pictures of yourselves, let’s talk about the points on this expansive debate.

I will try to split this into two parts, aligning with the two videos covering the debate. In the initial video, the first point goes to Chris for what I think is his most powerful point of the entire debate. The expanded universe and mimicry of Harry Potter is really impressive, and even though I debated the opposing side, the fan reaction to that wizard is really very reminiscent of how society reacted to Star Wars back in the day.

Next point went to me, and this really harkens back to a magical time when geeks could see a movie and then have an excellent chance of seeing that movie go on to win not just some, not just most, but all of the Oscars. Remember how The Dark Knight got snubbed? Yea, LOTR was critically more successful, and that’s saying something.

The next point I got as well, mostly due to the fact that every time a new teacher came along in Harry Potter, it was clear that was the villain. I don’t know why they didn’t do better background checks. Oh, and it was brought to my attention that my British accent gave one of our fans cancer. Sorry, my bad.

Chris evened things up with a mentioning of the reading phenomenon, which is still felt to this day. People waited in line for days for the release of … a … book. That doesn’t happen very often, if ever, but Harry made it happen.

Chris also got a point by saying that the origin of LOTR was not really in our generation, but several previous generations removed. I am not sure about that one, but he got it anyways, because I knew I was going to get another episode worth of time to argue back.

Moving on to the second part of our debate, featuring a manly threeway. Now the points were a little less important because I knew we were going to have you as the fans choose the real winner. Ironically enough, Chris won both ways, in a feat Al Gore probably envies. Oh, and no I have never seen an episode of MLP but I would like to. I simply found the image and though it would be funny.

Kyle swoops in with a point in saying that the abject failure of the prequels is exactly why they truly belong to our generation. I would argue, but I was too busy remembering that me and everyone I know graduated college and moved back with their parents because the job market was non-existent. Failure? No, but certainly disappointment that what worked for our parent’s generation is broken for us. If that doesn’t sound like the prequels, I don’t know what does.

Chris gets a quick point with his argument that the prequels didn’t have the same feeling as the originals. I blame the needless CG, but others might blame the lack of a story.

You may notice that both Chris and I got a point for the next argument. He started the idea and I basically jumped on his bandwagon. The idea is that the prequels didn’t offer anything new or interesting in the character department, only younger versions of existing ones. The few characters that were new were universally hated, or killed off before they could get more than two lines out.

Chris pulls the typecasting argument, but it’s a weak one in my opinion. It’s hard to compare the typecasting of the Harry crew with anyone else because the Potter films were like the first things they ever did, and then for a while it was the only things they did. Of course you are going to be best known for the only thing you have done.

Chris and I pull together to grab another point for reminding everyone that Natalie Portman, a.k.a. Thor’s wench was in the prequels. No one remembers that because, as Chris and I state, she has been in such good things since then that the prequels are eclipsed. If they were truly this generation’s “Star Wars“, there would be no eclipsing the actors.

And there you have it. After tallying the points, it looks like Harry Potter won, with the prequels coming in a surprisingly close second. Don’t worry for me, loyal fans, I’ve got some good debates coming up that I think you will all want to see. Endis Articalis!

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.

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