RE: Thank The Maker
I may be able to provide a bit of insight here. I was born in the late '70s and so I'm one of the last of the Gen X-ers. By the time the last of the episodes premiered in theaters, I was only 5 years old, so I missed the boat completely there. I remember other kids my age had the toys when I got a little older, but because we didn't have cable in the rural area where I grew up, I never saw the movies even after they were released on video and were playing on HBO. I remember one movie being on at someone's house while we were playing cops and robbers, but I never sat down and watched any of the movies all the way through as a kid.
My full introduction to them was actually just before the digitized versions premiered. I went to college at a tech school (RIT) so the majority of people I knew were computer science or engineering nerds, most of whom were huge Star Wars fanboys. I mean, action figures, costumes, the whole nine yards. One of my friends had the originals on VHS I think, which we watched in the lounge on my floor, then I saw the CGI versions right after. I actually did think that the CGI stuff was somehow worse than the primitive special effects they used in the originals, but otherwise the story seemed pretty much the same to me. My friends? They were like you. Furious about the corruption of their childhood fantasy.
I also went to see the prequels in the theater. I felt the same way about those as the digitized versions of the original movies. They seemed pretty much the same as ever. The special effects were obvious and kind of bad, but so was the original movies. They used trash cans as robots for Pete's sake.
I think my opinion differs for the specific reason that I watched all of them as an adult. In the originals, I wasn't able to suspend disbelief and overlook the bad acting, the hokey dialogue and the very obvious-to-me-as-an-adult special effects. I think that they're fantastic stories and lots of fun, but I was never drawn in by my them, nor did I identify with the characters like my friends who experienced them as children. I simply didn't understand what all the fuss was about.
This sort of confirms what Lucas is saying. He didn't make the films for me when I was a Freshman and Sophomore in college. He made it for children who are trying to sort out the world's complexity and the meaning in their own lives. Looked at through this lens, Jar Jar, or any of the new characters for that matter, while annoying even to me sometimes, doesn't bother me so much in the context of how worthy of the originals that movie was. There was some of that annoyance in the originals IMO. I remember one of my younger cousins getting a Jar Jar action figure for Christmas that year, so the spirit was alive and well, and that's ultimately all that matters when that's the target audience. It's the same guy, making the same kinds of movies, just using more modern techniques and different actors. There's nothing wrong with that.