Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If You Want Your Kids to Love Star Wars, You Must Stop Hating Star Wars

The year is 1977. Star Wars is on the big screen for the first time. The look of the film is something you have never seen before. You may be only 10 years old but you know that what you have seen is something special. You know that you will remember this moment for the rest of your life. 
Cut to 1980. You just turned 13. All your friends are excited to line up for the release of Empire Strikes Back. You have spent the last 3 years dreaming of this moment. Playing with your figures in the sandbox acting out scenes on Tatooine. Convincing, Lisa, the pretty girl next door to be the Leia to your Luke and stealing a kiss when she wasn't expecting it. Little did you know the impact the movie you are a bout to see will have on you. Once again, you will be seeing a near perfect film. It doesn't get any better than this.
Move on to 1983. You borrowed your dads brand new Toyota Celica Supra and picked up Lisa to take her for the opening of Return of the Jedi. You are in love, the girl and the movie make the most perfect night you could imagine. After you drop Lucy off at home you sit in your dads car and dream of what the future will hold.
Go on to 1997. Star Wars is back in Theaters. All 3 movie are being re-released but now they are updated and being called, "Special Edition." You buy tickets to the first showing, one for you and one for your new wife, Lucy. Driving to the theater you reminisce about the old days and talk about how the movies changed your lives. Then the opening crawl begins and you see the difference. The quality looks great, the movie holds up...But there are little things you notice. Scenes added in that don't seem to fit. And didn't Han shoot first. Your whole memory of what you believe Star Wars to be has changed. A short time later you get to see Empire and Jedi in this same new edition and you somehow feel...Disappointed. "But that's OK," you think to yourself, "I just found out they are making Episode I, II, and III. Those will certainly be amazing."
Skip forward to 1999. You are 32. You have had tickets to see The Phantom Menace for weeks. How lucky you were to have a brand new mega theater with 25 screens that sold tickets weeks in advanced! You and Lucy crowd into the giant theater with many old friends that were there with you in line for Empire Strikes Back. The lights dim and the music hits and the yellow crawl fills the screen. Thing were right again. The movie ends and something just feel off. So you go again and see what it was...And you realize. You hate this movie. Sure it is Star Wars; it has Jedi, it has aliens and spaceships and blasters...But it feels wrong somehow.
Jump to 2002. Attack of the Clones is out and yet you feel the same something isn't right with it but you plug on and decide to just wait for Episode III.
Move forward to 2005. Lucy is at home with the baby and has let you go out to see the midnight viewing of Revenge of the Sith. Now they seemed to hit it right. But it's over and the prequels have destroyed your faith in Star Wars. 

I should begin this by stating I am a major apologist when it comes to Star Wars and the Prequels. I have never held back my feelings about Episodes I, II & III, which is that I enjoy them. Therefore, I am kind of biased when it come to that. Recently I heard a song titled, "Why Is Dad So Mad?, a song about kids wondering why dad is so mad when they watch Star Wars. Hearing this made me think about what I have done with my kids and how they developed a love for the movies. I have never really held Star Wars back, I will let them watch them all except for Episode III (so they will be surprised when they see Anakin become Vader) and Episode V (so they are surprised when they learn Vader is Luke's dad) and I let watch Episode I as much as they want. No matter how much the Gungans or young Anakin may annoy me instead of turning and telling them this I say, "Look at those funny guys, kids. Aren't they silly?" then they laugh and want to watch more. Later, when they are a little older, they want to watch more as well but ignore the "silly" guys.

My kids love Star Wars. It is always a big part of my life. I read the books and I quote them when possible and the kids are always being exposed to it, through me. That being said, I have never pushed them to like it. I don't force them to watch the movies; I let them tell me when they will watch them. People always roll their eyes when I say I force it on my kids but the reality is I don't. I have the belief kids will always rebel against what their parents like when they are being forced into it. If you force your child to always listen to country music he will listen to rap as a teenager. I don't want them to hate Star Wars because their dad always forced them to watch it. I want them to come to it on their own and if they end up not liking it then it doesn't matter...I will still love them. In the end it's not about whether or not they are like us, it's about whether they respect us.

Imagine a kid who grows up with a dad that says he loves Star Wars but always says bad things about George Lucas and how he ruined Star Wars. I imagine my 6 year old, who will be nearly 8 when Episode VII is released, would not be looking forward to it if all I ever do is say bad things about the old one. Comments like, "I only like the theatricals versions, not the Special Messed Up Editions," and "the prequels are so bad I doubt the new stuff will be good," will be noticed by your kids even if you don't say them to them directly. I feel every dad that likes Star Wars wants to enjoy them with their kids. So let's do them a favor. Stop making fun of the past and look toward the future. Be positive and expect the best. Stop hating the prequels and enjoy them with your family. Simply because if you want them to love Star Wars, you must stop hating Star Wars.

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