Just read this interesting posting by John Scalzi on his Whatever Blog, discussing whether or not Star Wars is good entertainment. You can find further discussion here, and here at John Seavey’s blog.
I can only add my own meagre $0.02 based on my own experiences. Star Wars was the very first film I remember seeing, and for a 3 year-old it was a life-altering experience. I think Star Wars is great entertainment for a kid. It has memorable spaceship designs that were easy to draw, memorable characters and a simple easy-to-follow storyline.
But I found that as I got older I needed to read and watch stories that reflected the more complex life I was leading. So I started watching Star Trek and Doctor Who when I was 12. I read Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke when I was 16. And I discovered Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore in my mid-twenties. The observant amongst you might’ve noted a lengthy 5-10 year gap between each set of authors. That’s what happens when you’re socially isolated and don’t have any friends to share your interests with.
The conclusion I can draw from my own experiences is that because Star Wars was pastiche of a lot of other genres, it was a great jumping-off point to discover the rest of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I wonder what the jumping off-point was for later generations?