I have had a tough time this year coming up with a topic for this most important date, May The 4th, aka Star Wars Day. So I’m going to just speak from the heart about the tragedy that befell my family thanks to my own selfishness and thoughtlessness. Beware, for this could happen to you, too!
A year ago, I wrote a piece about how my daughter had recently discovered and become enamored with Star Wars, or at least the six films we had at that time. I fixated, yes I chose that word correctly, on her love of the franchise and how I felt vindicated in raising this amazing little mini-me. I spoke longingly of that which once was and my hopes of what might be. All of this happened over half a year before the new film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, came to theaters near us all. I wrote how I respected creator George Lucas for his vision, if not for his revisions. I did all of this before I saw the new film. The new film that Disney created.
So, it turns out that I did not take my daughter, Vivienne, to see The Force Awakens the first night. I took my son, Brenden, because he was seemingly over-the-top excited to watch it, whereas my little girl was…not. So, there we are with our tickets on a Thursday night at the movie theater. Commemorative The Force Awakens cups in hand. Excited but trying not to geek out too much. The trailers roll, the film starts, and it’s…underwhelming. In retrospect, my expectations were beyond the scope of reason. It wouldn’t have mattered what was on the screen, it would never have matched up to what my heart and soul wanted it to be. But I put on a brave face, turned to my 16 year old, and saw the disappointment on his face.
He sat there, almost stunned, and voiced what I was feeling: “That was lame.” It turns out that his anticipation of the movie was on the same level as mine. Sure, he had never grown up with the films like I did, but he did grow up seeing my joy and exhilaration when watching them, or reading the extended universe (pre-Disney canon disruption). He was there when I came home with my Stormtrooper tattoo. Or when I turned every empty gift wrap roll into a disposable lightsaber. His love and adoration for the franchise was formed by watching me and my love of it. It then dawned on me: I had set this poor boy up for failure, for disappointment. I had been talking non-stop for weeks prior and filling his ears with my expectations and hopes. I had turned his love of Star Wars to The Dark Side.
This was heartbreaking, devastating, unforgivable. So I did the only sensible thing a parent can do – I agreed with him but said we needed to see it again. I mean, I’ve seen the original trilogy at least 200 times each and the prequels I’ve seen often enough; they are what they are, you know? We were traveling out of state soon after to see my brother and decided to go with them to see the film again. This time, I knew the plot, I started looking for things to love. I expressed some interest in new characters, new costumes, new special effects. I was pleased that he also began to see the same.
There are still some things that bother me: Rey having significant Force powers so quickly, Finn being able to break his training (and it seeming to be like it was a first), and Kylo just being so damn emo. But those problems are no larger than the ones I dealt with as a child while enjoying the movies that were shaping my entire life. I’m glad we saw it again; we’ve actually seen it several more times in the theater and a multitude of times on Blu-ray, because I needed perspective. And so did he.
In the end, we enjoyed the movie for what it actually is, not what we want it to be. We are eager for the next two and I hope they’ll be just as good as The Force Awakens. But if they aren’t, it’s still more Star wars than we had. As a side note, my daughter did see the movie and loved it. She is quite taken with Chewbacca and has since acquired several plush versions of the character. Who would have thought that Wookies would replace teddy bears?
And because it’s May The Fourth, Star Wars Day, I am showing off a few photos of some of the goodies I’ve gotten since last year at this time. Thank you for reading and May The Force (and The Fourth) Be With You!