Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Ultimate Star Wars Question

Little VaderInspired by DorkDaddy's White Paper on the right age to expose your kids to Star Wars, I decided to try again. The first time I tried, my boy was 3. I thought he wouldn't get the nuances, but love the lightsabers. But we didn't get there, because those red-hooded faceless shorties drove him out from the room (OK, they're called Jawas. I know now). He didn't want anything to do with "The red people," and I couldn't even fast-forward, because what if they come back?! (SPOILER: They don't come back.)

Red People

I tried again when he turned 4. This time, we didn't make it past the opening crawl. As soon as the music started, he knew the red people were not far, so he ran away.

But after I gave DorkDaddy my answer, that I couldn't imagine my son ever being ready for Star Wars, I decided to try again. And this time, maybe because his preschool friends were talking about playing the Star Wars Angry Birds game, or because his 2-year-old sister was in the room, and didn't mind watching it, or because he was simply ready, he stayed in the room the whole time. And a couple of days later, we watched The Empire Strikes Back.

There were snow monsters, and hands being chopped off, and Darth Vader appears in that trippy scene in the cave, and you have that "Luke, this is your destiny" line, which I've been imitating (WITH GRAVITAS) since he was 3, thinking that would make him want to watch it more, and Han Solo gets frozen, and, well, that movie is dark. But he made it through, and I couldn't be prouder.

Of course, his little sister made it through as well, but it's easier to get through the Star Wars movies when all you get is, "Dark Vader's robots fell! And it was funny!"

My girl's first saberAnd now I'm faced with the biggest challenge a father could have. THE conundrum of fatherhood, if you will: what next?

Now, obviously, there's the Machete Order. If you're not familiar with that post, now would be a good time to read it. It's very long, but it's a fun read. And it's very convincing. The short version is that the Machete Order calls for new Star Wars viewers to watch the movies in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI.

Yes, only 5 movies, with very little Jar Jar, with the "I am your father" surprise still intact, and with a double flashback after Luke gets his new hand, all preparing us for The Return of the Jedi extravaganza.

The Machete Order post is updated to say a young woman watched the movies for the first time in the suggested order, and it worked really well. And I believe it. After all, it's true that all the prequels suck, but do they suck that much if you take the Jar Jar out of the equation?

Still, the ultimate question remains: What about kids? Will the Machete order work for kids? I have 5 possible problems:

1. Kids love podracers. That's a scientific fact.

2. Wouldn't kids miss What's-his-Face Darth Maul, since he's now become the face of the prequels-merchandising?

3. That scene with Obi-Wan jumping out of the window is exciting!

4. Would kids be able to get excited over the Return of the Jedi after watching two movies with superior special effects?

5. And worst of all: What if I deprive them of one or more of the prequels, and then they end up watching them during their rebellious teenage years? What if they then come up to me and say, "The Phantom Menace is better than A New Hope!!! And also, I hate you!!!"? That means I've failed them as a father and as a guide to life!!!

It's a tough one. If I take my role as father seriously, shouldn't I protect my kids, by stopping from watching all of the prequels? And what about the new movies they're making now? Should knowing about the upcoming trilogy make a difference in my decision?

This is your destiny

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  1. fI hate to be a killjoy and maybe it's my older generation status but why expose a 4 year old to such violence as any Star Wars movie? They were produced for adults back in the dark ages. What next? How about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

  2. Hey, I know what you're saying, and maybe I'm a little bit of a hypocrite for exposing my kids to a movie with violence, while not letting them play with toy guns or with any other violent toys. On the other hand, and maybe I'm just giving excuses here, these movies have some violent scenes, but they're not really violent. Unlike Texas Chainsaw Massacre, movies like Star Wars (and Superman, and Indiana Jones, and all the other movies we grew up on) don't even have blood in them (as far as I can remember).

    One of the best things about being a parent is getting the opportunity to relive the best parts of our own childhoods. All parents are probably a little too eager to expose their kids to the best-of their own childhoods, and maybe Star Wars and Superman can wait. I was born in '73, though, and saw all these movies in the theater when I was about 4 or 5, which is why I thought now would be a good time to try again. If my boy had given me a sign that he wasn't ready, I would have waited another year.



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