As Star Wars: The Force Awakens approaches, I’ve noticed numerous Facebook friends, film critics and fans participating in a rather touching rite-of-passage: sharing the Star Wars experience with their children for the first time. Cynicism infects nearly everything these days, but as a newish father, the idea of introducing the next generation to a franchise that gave me so much joy as a child is admittedly touching.
One slight problem, though. I don’t have a child of Star Wars watching age. My kid is one. Well, 15 months. But after a year, only GamerGate supporters and Nickelback fans count in months. Why should I be deprived of a unique cultural experience just because my daughter wasn’t conceived before 2009? I refuse to let society’s ageist, outdated thinking control my life. We are a proudly independent, boldly non-conformist family. Which is why I turned off the cartoon my daughter was watching and forced (GET IT?! BECAUSE THE FORCE IS A STAR WARS THING AND THIS JOKE TOOK ME FOUR DAYS TO WRITE) her to spend two hours viewing a movie she cannot remotely comprehend.
STOP CRYING! I DON’T CARE IF YOU WANT TO WATCH LITTLE EINSTEINS! EXPOSURE TO CLASSICAL MUSIC AND WORLD-RENOWNED ART WILL DISSOLVE YOUR CEREBELLUM! THIS SOMEWHAT VIOLENT, OCCASIONALLY INCESTUOUS SPACE OPERA IS FAR MORE ENTERTAINING FOR YOUR FATHER! HERE ARE SOME PUFFS. JUST SIT HERE AND BE CUTE FOR PAGEVIEWS!
John Williams’ iconic score gets her attention. She stumbles toward the entertainment center and looks up at the text crawl. Stays that way for a while. Huh. Maybe this will hold her attention.
Vader captures the ship
“Kik-key!” The cat wanders into the room and the spell breaks. My daughter has a special relationship with
my wife’s our cat. Sort of like the inverse of Rihanna and Chris Brown, where Rihanna is the aggressor and Brown is somehow more of an actual pussy than he already is. The cat makes her irrationally happy, and she communicates that joy by tackling, flopping, pulling and generally beating the fur off that feline. I try to draw her focus elsewhere, both for my enjoyment and the cat’s physical well-being.
“Hey, look, it’s Darth Vader! And he has Princess Leia!”
/drops her shoulder into the cat’s midsection, breaking five cat ribs
This is not going well.
Bleeps and bloops. She likes bleeps and bloops. R2-D2 fills its bleep-and-bloop-making role admirably. Intermittent laughs result. Now we’re getting somewhere.
“That’s R2-D2 and C3P0. They’re droids.”
“They’re about to get captured by Jawas.”
Yes! The plot is clearly starting to resonate. Granted, she’s now rummaging through her toy chest for a water-filled whale, but I sense progress. Interest. And we haven’t even met our main heroes yet. Bonds are forming. I can practically step foot on a bridge to my past.
Luke and Obi-Wan
My daughter misses the appearance of one of the most legendary characters in cinema history because she’s gone into the other room to pull books off the shelf. “Kiddo, there’s Luke Skywalker,” I point at the screen. “He’s the good guy.” She doesn’t even acknowledge me as she pushes Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full across the living room like a blocking sled.
She tires of this eventually, wandering back into the room just in time to catch Obi-Wan’s introduction.
“See-ta,” she says, pointing to the TV.
“See-ta” is how she says Santa. Yes, Obi-Wan is a wise, magical, bearded elderly man who keeps an eye on children from afar. Sharp kid. Amazed how quickly she made that connection.
Before Luke can get the next sentence out, ear-splitting high-pitched shrieks fill the air. Has a mutant bird of prey broken through the window? Nope, that’s just my daughter announcing that she’s hungry. Quick break to make some food that she inevitably deposits all over the kitchen floor. The movie runs while we eat.
We return in time for Luke and Obi-Wan’s trip to the Cantina, a scene that pleases the little one greatly. She digs music. Unfortunately, she inherited my awkward white guy genes. My daughter dances like some combination of a windsock and a Tickle-Me-Elmo that’s nailed to the floor. She’s all head-bobs and upper body gyrations. It’s funny as hell and I no longer care if she understands anything she’s watching, only that she’s enjoying herself. But seriously, would it kill you to FOCUS UP ON THE PLOT?!
The Death Star
“That’s no moon,” I tell my kid. “That’s a space station.” Unfortunately, I don’t think she heard this classic line over the sounds of the mini-piano she’s bashing in the corner. She may be trying to get the Star Wars theme down, but with only four keys and one year of life experience, she has a ways to go.
We try to play lightsabers with two creepy-looking drumsticks from a music set apparently designed by Tim Burton. It’s a good time…at least until she sneaks up 10 minutes after we’re done screwing around and whacks me on the arm with the drumstick I didn’t know she still had. She thinks it’s hilarious. I wonder why she never does that to her mother.
Yavin and the Final Battle
I trick her into sitting with me by moving her snacks and milk up onto the couch. I enjoy deceiving my kid. Makes me feel superior and intelligent. If only my bosses could see my intellectual mastery in action. One glimpse, and I could finally free myself of this rancid mop bucket and assume my rightful place in the C-suite where I would LEAD THE COMPANY TO UNPRECEDENTED GLOBAL DOMINANCE!
Sorry, lost the thread a little there. Anyway. X-Wings and Y-Wings battle TIE Fighters over the surface of the Death Star. The kiddo seems entranced. Aside: she better never like Y-Wings when she grows up. Rather her marry a Vine celebrity than listen to her gush about plodding, useless, cannon-fodder Y-Wings. Y-Wings? More like, Why-Wings? As in, Why Does Your Worthless Ass Exist in This Otherwise Magnificent Universe-Wings? We should not let another Y-Wing in a Star Wars product until we figure out what’s going on here. Find the ones already here and throw ‘em in camps. X-Wings, A-Wings, even B-Wings: all fine. Y-Wings are flying Hs with a dickhead bolted to the front. FOH, Y-Wings.
Han takes out Vader, freeing Luke to hit his one-in-a-million shot, destroy the Death Star, and vanquish the Empire for roughly three years. My daughter crawled off my lap to go inspect her reflection in the dishwasher minutes five ago. She’s a kind soul, and obviously couldn’t bear to watch millions lose their lives in the explosion. Maybe she can witness their horrible deaths next year. Hoping this becomes a new holiday tradition, after all.
Again, the music catches her ear during the film’s climatic awards ceremony. This time she performs an awkward pirouette before throwing both hands skyward like someone just dove into the end zone for six. I’d say she learned that from watching football, but her father’s spectacularly incompetent team doesn’t score touchdowns this season. The high hands are from Little Einsteins. You know, the show I turned off to make her watch this movie. Whatever, she clearly can afford to miss a few episodes if she already has Rocket’s takeoff procedure down…pat. OHHHH SHIT COMIN IN HARD WITH THE LITTLE EINSTEINS PUN FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE KNOW! (please help me I am not well).
Was this a good use of two hours? Unequivocally, yes. The kiddo now has a complete encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Wars universe, and the two of us were able to bond through the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and also through Annie’s Mac & Cheese, a stuffed elephant, a plastic piano, another stuffed elephant, yogurt in a pouch, puffs, plastic blocks, drumsticks, and a ripped Plow & Hearth catalog. I can’t wait for the day when she gets to pass on this wondrous, life-changing experience to her children. Preferably while they’re still in the womb.