I think most of us know that the prequels aren't as hated as some groups of individuals would have you believe. Casually strolling through the land of the Internet will yield you dissertation after dissertation on how hated the prequels are, but I'm of a minority on the Internet that believes the love for the Star Wars movies is much more even than a lot of those people would care to admit.
I have three bits of evidence that support my theory, and I think each of them is pretty compelling.
1. When I post links to Amazon, I see who's buying what. From my links, more than a hundred people have ordered the complete saga, all 6 films. A total of 1 person has pre-ordered only the prequels and 1 other person has pre-ordered only the classic saga. Sure, the people who read my material and click my likes might tend to skew more towards the sort of fan who's a completist, but that's neither here nor there.
2. When news broke that the Yoda puppet in The Phantom Menace might be replaced with a CGI construct, the response was overwhelming. "How could he do this?" some asked. "He's claimed another casualty in his war on puppets," others opined. "Why can't he just leave these films alone?" others lamented. There was a significant amount of noise being made about it... About a film that is allegedly hated by everyone. It's hated so much that people care whether or not the original Yoda is in place or not.
3. Finally, we have our piece de resistance. The Star Wars Moments leader board. In honor of the upcoming Blu-ray release, the official Star Wars website put up a mini-site that lets you rate your favorite moments in the Star Wars saga. You're given two different scenes and asked, "Which is the better moment?" There are 300 or so moments, spread equally across the six films. And it stands to reason that if the prequels are so universally hated that they wouldn't rate a single moment in the top five, right? Well, you'd be wrong. As I write this, three of the top five moments in the Star Wars saga, as voted by Internet users of all ages across the world, are from the Prequels. Two of them are from The Phantom Menace. The only classic film represented is The Empire Strikes Back. Of the top five moments as voted for just today, two of the five are from the Prequels. I suggest you go take a look for yourself. And go vote for some of your favorite moments, too. [Hat tip to Pablo Hidalgo for bringing this to my attention]
But who is it that hates the prequels? My kids and the vast majority of their friends prefer the Prequels to the Classic trilogy. Sure, they're interested, but it's part of their generation. And I think they'll love them the same way I love Return of the Jedi and those daffy (carnivorous, man-eating) Ewoks.
Ronald Reagan was a big fan of Star Wars (so what if it's a different kind, this metaphor is apt) and he talked about how he represented a silent majority. Well, I think the Star Wars Reagan was really speaking of (15 years early) was the prequel trilogy, beloved by a silent majority of fans who are content to love the Star Wars Saga in its entirety and it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say about it.
I think it's safe to say that the Leader Board is proof positive that the Prequels are MUCH more popular than a lot of people give them credit for.
You can vote for your favorite moments in the Star Wars saga here, though I warn you, there's a lot to love in the Prequels and you might find yourself voting for it a lot more often than you think. And be sure to sound off below.
The Blu-ray set comes out September 16th. You can preorder it on Amazon.