I do not love Star Wars. There. I said it.
To clarify, I like Star Wars and there are elements I truly enjoy. But I don’t love it like many other sci-fi geeks I know.
What I do love is watching it with my kids; especially my middle spawnling (Evil Genius Nefarious). He recently celebrated his 11th birthday and all he wanted in the world was the latest LEGO Poe Dameron X-Wing. And that was his birthday present from us. And he built it in one day. And he was happy. And I was happy.
I even listened to him tell me all the amazing details about the X-Wing and Poe Dameron. Especially LEGO Poe’s hair (that one’s for you, Shiri).
This is the kid who is aching to watch Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker on Star Wars Day (even if it is a school day)–Thanks Disney+. This is the kid I took to the Australian premiere for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. This is the kid who played Princess Leia’s Theme on his clarinet for his school band audition.
I don’t love Star Wars as much as he does but I will love Star Wars with him.
As parents, we can do this. I am pretty sure you know what I mean. There is such a thrill when we introduce our kids to a particular fandom, especially one that is close to our hearts. Of course, there is always the chance they won’t love it as much as we do. My spawnlings love the X-Men but they do not understand why I still hum the theme song from the 1990s cartoon series.
Now, I could shake my head and mutter “damn morlocks” under my breath OR I could be happy for them to accept a part of my geek roots. They can see where my interests come from. In the same way I know my mum loved Lost in Space, or EG Dad’s Nan loved the original Flash Gordon in the cinemas.
Reverse the roles, and I will happily share in my son’s love for Star Wars. If he is willing to share it with me then that is a gift. He is giving me a part of his heart, a part of him. It’s important to him and that is important to me.
A History of MY Star Wars
I will still happily watch any Star Wars with him. I remember loving them when I was a kid myself. Back in the 1980s, we had recorded SW: A New Hope on to a VHS tape. I remember watching that movie so many times, I had memorized whole scenes (not unusual for many here at GeekMom/GeekDad). However, with each revisit, I started to notice little inconsistencies or trends that irked me. Interestingly enough, my spawnlings have noticed the same inconsistencies but they seem to brush it off with a simple “meh, lazy writing” and move on. I am both proud and scared of that.
By the time the prequels arrived, I was in my skeptical early adult years (pre-kids). I remember attending a midnight screening for Episode II: Attack of the Clones. To be absolutely honest, it was my first ever experience with dedicated cosplay. Not me personally but with the friends we were with. It was not a great night: I hated the movie (still do); the cosplayers (including some friends) were horribly ‘fanboy’ towards the girls in the group; and I was horrible in my response.
In fact, all of those memories came flooding back when EG Nefarious started to show his love for Star Wars.
As a parent we have to assess all of these additional factors for our geekdoms. Are we sharing our geekdom with them because we want them to re-affirm our fandom? Or because we are desperate to share something with them? And when our fandom shows its dark side, do we protect them or wait and see how it works out? And let’s face it: the Star Wars fandom is one of the more notorious on this front.
When the recent trilogy started, Nefarious was so excited to see Rey on the screen. He thought she was a fantastic balance of Luke’s righteousness and Leia’s pragmatic focus. We both loved TLJ because it was different to the other films (you can read my review here). By this stage, Nefarious was interested in the characters as much as the story-line. He wanted to know more about them and the whole Star Wars Universe. For him, it had become bigger than a Skywalker Saga. That boy in the closing scene of TLJ was Nefarious, in all his geeky glory.
Parenting Through the Dark Side
However, I struggled to help Nefarious understand and navigate through the vitriol that came afterwards. Even at school, he could not escape the criticism from some fanboys: too many new female characters; too much power given to Leia; why is Rey so important? Nefarious was upset because he saw it as an attack on females like myself and his sister. By the time we had reached RoS, he had come to terms with the fact everyone can like it differently and he will just ignore the criticism. He rarely talks in great detail about Star Wars with anyone outside our ‘geek circle’. He holds back on sharing his thoughts about the movies. He tends to ‘expand’ the story at home with his LEGO instead.
Now, every time I watch the movies, I cannot help but remember how petty the fandom can be. I try really hard not to be sucked into the black hole of rumors but the discourse leading up to RoS spoiled the excitement for me. The hero-worship of a bad guy at the expense of other strong characters because of their gender or race was painful. I am reminded of how Leia always felt like she was fighting for her role to be included. How Padme was changed to fit Anakin’s story-line. How Ahsoka was blamed for abandoning Anakin. How Rose was hated (simply that, hated). How Rey was ignored. As much as I want the joy of escapism, the fandom has ruined the Universe with their own socio-political views; that’s right, the fans. Not the story.
Making Star Wars Day a Positive Experience
There are some in the Star Wars geek community who can bring beauty to it all. I know many who have benefited and flourished from the warmth and support of so many geeks coming together over a vibrant world of creativity and adventure. Fellow GeekMom Sophie has shared her love for Star Wars through a plethora of book reviews (a pile I am still working through myself). My Aussie cosplay friend, Starfire Phoenix, has shown her passion with the community as well (check out her Instagram here). These are the stories I share with my kids.
They also inspire me to find other ways to share with my son in his Star Wars adventures. Every year on Star Wars Day, we revisit something to do with Star Wars; be it a movie, a comic, a book. Last year, we lined up for over an hour to see the special LEGO Star Wars exhibit at our local shopping centre. We even met Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, Creative Director for LEGO Star Wars (the highlight of Nefarious’ young life). These are the things I will do for my child’s love for Star Wars.
I will never love Star Wars as much as my children love it, and we are okay with that. That spaceship has flown for me but I can still sit back and enjoy the experience with my kids. Instead, I will always love Star Wars With My Kids.
And that makes for a pretty special Star Wars Day in itself.