Like almost every other kid that grew up in the 70s, I grew up with the Star Wars franchise. But as an adult woman, it was never much more than a first attempt special effects, kind of kitsch, kind of nostalgic bit of childhood. And then I went and had a couple of boys. My husband was practically salivating at the idea of watching (the original) Star Wars with our eldest son, and against my more maternal, Kumbayah attitude, I finally relented around age 4. And it’s been non-stop Skywalker/Vader/Kenobi/Rex/Palpatine mania ever since.
Star Wars is a big deal in our world. Like, really big. Conversation around the dinner table is often peppered with discussions as to which star ship is faster, better, cooler. We have what feels like an entire galactic fleet of Lego ships scattered around. And if you think Danish is a weird language, then you haven’t heard your kids talking Gungan, or about ships, in galactic mechanical detail. I’m sure it’s been done before, discussed before, analyzed to death, but I had another of those parental epiphanies recently, one of those light bulb moments where you stop and just think “Duh” and slap yourself in the forehead Homer Simpson style. Because all my kids really need to learn about life, all those idioms and metaphors and parables we use to teach them, all the important ones, they can learn by watching Star Wars. Sure, the box set helps, but most of the good stuff is right there in the original. Behold.
Sometimes good people make bad choices. Let’s look at Anakin Skywalker, shall we? Oh, little Ani. He had it all going for him for a while there. Universe-class pod racer, mechanical genius, nice hair. But he came to a cross-road in his life and he made the wrong choice. He chose the wrong side. THE DARK SIDE. It happens sometimes. Sometimes good people are led astray by evil chancellors. Or their peers. Or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite all the ‘say no to drugs’ messages and the safe sex lectures, no one is perfect, we all make mistakes. It’s a powerful lesson. But even more powerful is the message that despite the fact that most of us make bad or questionable choices at some point in our lives…
It is always possible to redeem yourself. Sure, it took Darth Vader six movies to do it, but he got there in the end. And even though they screwed with me by digitally super-imposing Hayden Christensen’s head on Darth Vader’s body at the end of the remastered Return of the Jedi, the point is, if Anakin/Darth Vader, dark over-lord of the universe, can do it, anyone can.
You can do anything you set your mind to. Luke Skywalker was destined to a hum drum life on Tatooine as a moisture farmer, a pretty boring, barren life by the looks of it. No Jedi prep school for him, no light saber after school club, no extra force tuition. But he looked within himself and found the strength to become a more powerful force than he ever knew he could be. Which leads directly to….
Practice makes perfect. Did Luke hit the remote control glowing orb thingy the first time he held a light-saber? Nay, he did not. Even though the force was strong with him, he had to practice with that sucker until he got good at it. So next time Junior doesn’t want to get up for soccer practice or sit down at the piano, just remind them that no one hits the remote control glowing orb thingy on the first try.
Respect your elders. Kids think we’re stupid. They don’t get that most of us have btdt. That occasionally we know what we’re talking about. Would most people look at a little green guy who talks funny and listen to his advice? No, they would think he was little and green and talked funny. But Luke did. And Yoda knew what he was talking about. He’d been around a few times, survived a few rebellions, a couple of clone wars. Just like us parents. Sure, we seem un-hip and un-cool and utterly ridiculous if we try to use the slang of the day, but deep down inside, we generally know what’s what.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Forget just skin color. Beings in the Star Wars galaxy are all over the map–literally and figuratively. Skin color, limbs, eyes, half mechanical, telepathic. Hutts. But the Star Wars characters take it in their stride. No one makes a blanket judgment call about another being’s morals or ethics or general worthiness to exist based on the number of tentacles protruding from their head.
The biggest, shiniest, most expensive isn’t always the best. Point in case, the Millennium Falcon. Generally viewed as and referred to as “a hunk of junk”. But when the chips were down, she got the job done. In fact, the ‘hunk of junk’ was instrumental in saving the day, nay all the days on all the planets and all the moons in all the universe.
Being different isn’t bad, it’s just different. Honestly, would you rather be one of a hundred thousand Storm Troopers stomping around in your uncomfortable white, armadillo like get-up ? Or would you rather be Han Solo in your leather trousers and pirate shirt? Hmmm?
It’s important to eat right and exercise and live a healthy life. Yes, Jabba, I’m talking about you. Apparently obesity is not just an American problem. Gluttony is never pretty, even intergalactic gluttony.
It’s not always easy to stand up for what’s right. When the Jedi were outnumbered on Geonosis, ready to be thrown to the wolves, did they give up and switch sides? They did not. They whipped out those light sabers, circled their wagons and prepared to fight for what was right. Granted, Yoda flew in with a starship full of clone troopers to save the day at the last-minute, but the point is, doing what’s right is not always the easy thing to do. But it’s almost always the right thing to do.
Nothing is impossible. Blow up the Death Star? Impossible. Not.
I could go on and on (the cool guy pretty much always gets the girl, when in doubt put on a slave costume, musicians are almost always weirdos…), but the big ones, the ones we worry about teaching, they are right there, slickly packaged in a 90 minute digitally remastered format. So shelve the guilt. Pop some popcorn. Rev up the DVD player. And teach your kids about life.
May the force be with you.