One of the common comments about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that it “ignores the Prequels.” This is meant as a compliment to TFA, the implication being that it’s jettisoning all the elements of the Prequels that many people didn’t care for and sticking more closely to the look, feel and story elements of Original Trilogy. These comments sometimes call out TFA as taking a similar approach as Jurassic World, which side-stepped the two sequels and focused on continuing the story of the original Jurassic Park.
The comparison isn’t quite right, though, and betrays the general desire of many people to forget the Prequels exist, a worldview they then assign to everyone so when they find evidence of it they’re quick to point and yell “See! They hate the Prequels too!”
Jurassic World does indeed ignore in large part the second and third movies in the franchise. That was explained away by pointing out the events of those two movies take place on another island whereas the fourth goes back to Isla Nublar, where the first film was set. So it’s able to be more of a direct sequel to the first – and most well-regarded – film. That doesn’t mean the other two movies don’t exist, it just means the new movie opted to not address them directly.
The Force Awakens is set 30 some years after the events of Return of the Jedi. In it (sorry for some mild spoilers) the Jedi and the heroes of the Rebellion have become half-remembered myths. At the time of the Original Trilogy the events depicted in the Prequels had similarly become nearly forgotten. So it makes sense that if something is barely relevant at that time it’s not like they’re going to become massively well known 30 years later.
It makes zero sense for the new movie to overtly reference the events of the Prequels. No one in The Force Awakens, with the exception of Chewbacca, was around when they happened. There’s no character here to reference the Battle of Geonosis or the Trade Federation’s rumored blockade of Naboo. But there are characters who remember the Death Star and other moments seen in the OT.
People need to stop holding up the lack of call-backs to the Prequels as some sort of further evidence that they stink. They are canon and there’s ample opportunity for further films, books and comics to reference them. This kind of comment is indicative of a mindset that only looks for evidence that supports its own worldview and it’s an accurate comment about The Force Awakens.