When introducing your son to Star Wars goes horribly wrong

A long time ago I mentioned my son was finally reaching an age where I could share all of my favorite geek movies with him.

I even specifically mentioned Star Wars.

I never shared the aftermath.

You see, it all went terribly, horribly wrong.

Let’s face it, when you have kids one of the best things is watching them grow up. It’s so cool. One day they’re like this and it’s awesome, but then some time passes and they’re bigger, more nuanced, and it’s awesome in a completely new way.

But they can’t handle all the neat things you want to show them on day one. You have to plan it out.

You have to wait for that optimum juxtaposition between youth (still interested in neat stuff), maturity (able to grasp just how COOL the neat stuff is), and naiveté (still thinks Dad could potentially have a remote clue what is cool, the poor deluded waif).

Star Wars is one of those things.

So is Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I blew it with that one. I introduced my son to Raiders of the Lost Ark too soon, not anticipating the reception a cave full of spiders and skeletons with spears sticking out of their heads might get. Also, he had no idea what nazis were or why it’s so much fun to hate them and okay to cheer on a bunch of Nazis getting incinerated by the breath of God. Kind of like how it’s okay to hate fat old white men now, if you see them getting tortured or killed that’s all right then. Just, you know, nobody else. But white guys, that’s funny TV. White men; society’s modern Nazi. He didn’t have the correct cultural conditioning to know when you see a Nazi, you’re eagerly waiting to see how the foul beast will die, and I consider that a failing on my part.

Oh come on, you know I’m right. Take the book “The Keep”by F. Paul Wilson. The book is basically you watching eagerly as a team of Nazi SS get eaten by a hideous nightmare creature, and yes the point of the book is to be conflicted over watching a hideous monster eating people and feeling “well, but what if it eats someone I care about?” It’s wrong to root for the monster.

Nice piece of work pointing out the fallacy inherent in ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. No, the enemy of my enemy is just my enemys’ enemy, no more, no less. My apologies to Howard Taylor, I know it’s his line.

Great book, though.

Wait. Where was I going… oh right, Star Wars. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nazis. Fat white guys.

Okay, back on track.

I tried to introduce my son to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and instead of falling in love with the adventure he got creeped out by spiders and things that stick spears through your head. That can happen.

Lesson learned. I held off on Star Wars. Some things, you just can’t rush. It’s not worth the risk.

It was great fun to debate the HOW of introducing him to Star Wars, too.

Obviously, you can’t start with the books, the expanded universe, anything like that. You have to go with the movies; the foundation of all things.

But in what order? WHAT ORDER? CHRONOLOGICAL OR PUBLICATION DATE?!?

To Jar-Jar or not to Jar-Jar.

Or to bottom line it… Watch Phantom Menace knowing the truth of Darth Vader’s origin or not?

I grew up with the movies, so I can’t make an unbiased decision. I watched them in the theater in real time.

I lived the life geeks of a certain age experienced after Star Wars came out in theaters. All we had were playing cards showing scenes from the movie in little packs with cardboard we were told was gum, action figures that I somehow thought were great even though modern toys make them look like blister-packed piles of cat poo wearing Jawa cloth swatches, and a book.

That book.

You know that book.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, by Alan Dean Foster.

Talk about trying to get a kid to hate Star Wars… that damn book. I won’t say it’s a bad book, but let me tell you, when that wikipedia article says it was written so it could be filmed as a low budget sequel… well.

Can you imagine telling an author to write a book of science fiction about an amazing adventure, but hey, make sure it’s like, not too cool or awesome or uses the imagination TOO much or it’ll be too expensive to film on the cheap?

Hey, now I know what hell must be for writers. Wonderful.

Anyway. 1978 was lean times for a Star Wars fan who had an imagination burning in the glow of the fires of a million lightsabers.

And nothing, NOTHING fired the imagination as much as the most brilliant marketing ploy of all time; releasing the fourth part of the story FIRST.

OMG, I can’t even begin to describe the flights of fancy and ‘what ifs’ dancing around what stories might have been in those first three stories we didn’t see.

The word on the big fan magazines like Fangora, Starlog and Questar was that there would be six movies! They were going to give us episodes five and six to finish the trilogy, then go back and do the first three!

Yeah, geeks our age didn’t realize what time meant. We thought that meant, like, next year. It ws only three years until Empire came out, but a lot changes in a child in three years, man.

Shit, High School, the entirety of High School, is only four years long. Fucking eternity.

Star Wars Episode IV came out in 1977. I saw it in theaters in 1977. I was 9 years old.

I had no idea what the heck it was going to be. Nobody did. And I know nobody cares, water under the bridge. It’s only relevant because if I saw it at 9, that must be the right age. Right?

I decided no. I saw it, I loved it, I didn’t really fully understand it. That took nothing away from my enjoyment of it, not at all. pretty simple story, really. I grokked it.

But the sequel didn’t come out until 3 years later, in 1980. When I was twelve.

The Empire Strikes Back is, arguably, the best movie of the series, especially for shattering expectations.

But how much of that awesomeness was enhanced by having to wait three years speculating on what would come next in the third and final part of the trilogy in 1983?

1983. I was in High School. Only six years from start to finish, but I went from age nine to fifteen. BIG changes there.

How would all this play out now to a kid that has not just all three original trilogy films at the touch of his hands in an easy to watch format that tore apart all that was good and decent in the world by making it look like Greedo shot first and Han was slow in returning fire when clearly Han shot first establishing that he was an unscrupulous rogue that didn’t sit there like a patsy waiting to get killed by the first nerf herder fresh off the fields with his daddy’s blaster thinking to make a quick credit off a bounty by Jabba the Hutt?

Um. Sorry. I have issues. Unresolved issues.

Anyway, my son doesn’t have years to sit around waiting for sequels to be made, letting the anticipation and excitement build. He’s got instant gratification waiting, the whole damn thing sitting right there available for a weekend marathon.

Gotta do the original trilogy first. Have to build that suspense. The big reveal. “Luke, I am your father.” “I love you. I know.”

I mean, come on, has to be the original trilogy first. But what age?

I settled on twelve. Twelve is a good age, right? Twelve is the right age to appreciate Empire, and you know as soon as Star Wars is done you’ve gotta pop in Empire.

So, we waited.

I bought the movies on blu-ray. I prepared.

When I felt the day had come, I asked him if he’d like to watch Star Wars with me. You know, the original classic.

“No, that’s okay. I already know what it’s all about.”

What?!?

“Oh sure, I’ve seen the story plenty of times before.”

This required further investigation.

It turns out, get this, it turns out that he’s seen the entire thing before. Oh, but not the MOVIES.

No, no, what he saw is the story… in every form EXCEPT the movies.

So there are these cartoons called Lego Star Wars, maybe you’ve heard of them? Apparently they are Lego’s way of FUCKING RUINING STAR WARS FOR AN ENTIRE GENERATION OF CHILDREN BY PITCHING THE CARTOONS AT A YOUNGER AGE THAN THE FUCKING MOVIES ARE INTENDED.

Those worthless fucks.

So I thought I was going to be introducing my son to the greatest character that has ever breathed life to a screen, like this;

darththanks

And instead, children’s cartoons introduced my son to this;

lego-darth

Are you kidding me?

No. No, that’s real. That’s my son’s introduction to Star Wars. And to Darth Vader, thank you very much.

That, and apparently every single other cartoon that had writers strapped for original story ideas who decided, “Hey, in this episode let’s phone it in and do a Star Wars mockup, everyone loves those.”

You know, like Phineas and Ferb.

It’s been a thing. A big thing. And it’s been in his face since he was a baby, apparently. All his life he’s seen the Star Wars stuff played out in parody form over, and over, and over.

It was already too late before kindergarten was done.

I tell you, I begin to see why you’re supposed to isolate the kids from TV, this shit poisons their youth.

Do you know how I got my son even vaguely interested in watching Star Wars with me?

I promised him that he’d be able to see where his favorite Star Wars: Battlefront level, the attack on the Ice Planet Hoth, originally came from.

I had to promise him he’d get to see the actual attack on the rebel base of Hoth! He already knew all about it, but he’d never actually SEEN THE DAMN THING.

Not only did he know there WAS a battle between the Empire and the Rebellion on Hoth, but he’d taken part in it. He’d taken down AT-AT walkers with a harpoon already. Himself. Personally.

Shit, he’d personally flown speeders through the forest moon of fucking Endor chasing down Stormtroopers before he ever saw Return of the Jedi!

How fucked is that. No, seriously, this is bullshit and also awesome, but there is an intended sequence of events here that has been violated like a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Causality has become warped beyond measure. I require a time travel device and jellybabies. Also, a multi-colored scarf. Stat.

I eventually got him to watch the movies. Grudgingly. Kinda cranky. They’re so old, after all. He already knows what happens.

Star Wars Rebels, now that’s cool. He likes that. And he did like the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie. He did.

He didn’t love it, though. It was ‘all right’. Not as cool as Star Wars Rebels, after all, but pretty nice. A movie for us old folks.

It’s a nightmare. 

The whole thing has caused me to look at my long lists of movies and TV shows I wanted to share and realize, much as I expect my own father did, by the time they’re old enough to be old enough, your shit is TOO FUCKING OLD TO BE COOL.

I find myself remembering vaguely his efforts to get me to realize just how awesome The Beatles were. Like, The Beatles, man. THE BEATLES.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. They’re okay, I guess. Funny cartoon about a yellow submarine, crappy art style but okay.

And Elvis. Really, dad? Elvis? Gee, what next, the Beaver? Little Rascals? Holy crap, the ’20s called, they want their tired old black and white crap back. Maybe you heard we’ve got this thing now called color?

That’s me.

I put Spaced Invaders on, I thought he’d love that. He was so bored we shut it off after 15 minutes. “Who died and put you in charge?” “Captain Bipko.” Ah, that never gets old.

Or The Last Starfighter. “What do we do?” {Eyepiece flip} “We die.” He watched it, it was okay. He watched it dutifully in an attempt to make me happy. That’s all.

You want to know what the only true geek thing I’ve been able to share with him is?

Mobile Suit Gundam models and anime. He LOVES building Gundam models, and he also loves the best anime shows I’ve let him watch, like Fullmetal Alchemist and Sword Art Online.

So it’s not my shit that’s wrong, I just have to fall back, dump the old versions of it, and pick the newer, high speed low drag awesome versions to introduce him to.

I have to use the newest cutting edge geek stuff to give him a taste, then stand back and hope his own interest will drive him into archaeological research into the darkest origins of the art form.

Like how I once dipped my toe into Dark Side of the Moon and that drove me down the full path of Pink Floyd love.

Fucking Lego Star Wars.

You know, he doesn’t read comic books? I have a whole wall of Ultimate Spider-Man, he wants nothing to do with them.

But he likes the cartoons. But he doesn’t LOVE them.

No, what he loves is Rabbids. Rabbids and Teen Titans Go.

Okay. He loves Teen Titans Go.

I can live with that.

Seriously though. If you’ve got kids, you watch that early morning cartoon shit like a hawk. LIKE A HAWK.

You’ve been warned.

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14 thoughts on “When introducing your son to Star Wars goes horribly wrong

    • But he should slowly get to the age where he can appreciate the benefits of Elsa in Crusade, and not getting too freaked out by the wrong grail.

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  1. I saved a lot of PC and console games, thinking I’d share them with my kids. I’ve been able to get them to appreciate Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and some Final Fantasy, but they have no patience for things like Master of Orion or Star Control 2. It is to weep.

    At least we can bond over Minecraft.

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  2. So much of the stuff we love most is intertwined with where we were and how we experienced it that it’s almost impossible to replicate and share. Especially back then when once a movie left the theaters that was IT. You just prayed that it would show up on TV at some point so you could see it again! I struggle to find things I feel the same way about, but a lot of the mystique of stuff is gone.

    For a long time this was my only Star Wars fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNQPSLHDNXs

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  3. I know your plan got derailed, but…did you consider Machete Order?

    My youngest niece was into Star Wars when she was 7 or 8, for her it was the Clone Wars that her and her friends played. When my sister told me the girls had never seen Star Wars? That was unacceptable. Guess who got a package from Amazon that very week?

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  4. I can relate, did you know they brought back Voltron? my almost 5 year old likes it. (it’s not the old one from the 80’s tho) and he decided to be a power ranger (/cringe) for halloween.

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    • I’m rather more fond of the new Voltron than I thought I would be. It’s a more character driven piece (I like what they did with Pidge and Shiro) than the 80s one was, I think, so there’s less of the Lions and Voltron itself, but on balance, I think it does a good job. I’d have a hard time showing the old one to my kids afterward, though.

      I’m not even going to try Robotech. I loved that show, in all its Americanized-mess glory, but then, I was 10.

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      • I can imagine that. What I like of the series is probably a “highlights reel” in my mind. I suspect it has pacing issues even for more patient folk, given that it’s this weird frankenstein of a show with an odd obsession for JPop. Still, Max is awesome.

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  5. I can’t stand Teen Titans Go, it’s a disgrace compared to the original Teen Titans (which we have on DVD thank goodness).
    I never planned a specific way to introduce my 8 year old to Star Wars, we watch the original trilogy regularly so she’s just sort of grown up with it. She loves The Force Awakens. She has not seen the prequels yet, I think she’s young for RotS plus I want her to have all the characters from the OT solidly in her head so she can relate all the PT characters correctly.

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    • Have you watched Young Justice? I find it’s pretty solid. I understand that the producers cancelled it, at least in part, to make Teen Titans Go. Bleh.

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