Nature vs. Nerdture: Train Your Padawans Early
By Nicole Bresner
So. A new Star Wars. I may or may not have bawled when I saw the first trailer. It was the music, I think, that brought me right back to when I was a kid, when starfighters, hairy 7′ 6″ creatures, and evil Sith lords seemed perfectly within the realm of possibility.
One of my earliest memories is seeing Star Wars in 1977. My parents took my younger sister and me to the drive-in and made us bring our pillows and wear pajamas because the movie ran past our bedtime. Yeah. In retrospect, I realize that this meant that they couldn’t find a sitter, and we were just tagalongs to the movie which has since become one of the most iconic pieces of cinema in history. My mom and dad seemed so old at the time, but were actually younger than I am now. I can imagine them heading out to the theater, psyched to see the movie that would change movies forever, in the same way that I rush to the latest Marvel movies with giddy anticipation.
I didn’t really understand most of what was happening on the screen, but I remember how I felt as I watched from the backseat, as Luke and Leia swung across the chasm hanging from a rope, as I heard the one-and-only sound of a light saber being drawn for the first time, and as R2D2 bleeped and chirped and rolled alongside the heroes. I remember the music, thrilling as the star fighters careened through space, menacing as Darth Vader glided across the screen with his black cape trailing behind him. But mostly I remember Leia, in her white dress, with her hair in those singular side-twists, fighting alongside the men. I soon became one of the legions of little girls across America that tried to emulate Leia’s hair (and rebel warrior status) after seeing the film.
Now, my three daughters are experiencing a new installment of the epic adventure, and I’m having crazy nostalgic flashbacks. I introduced them all to Star Wars when they were toddlers, even though I was fairly strict about violence. Star Wars was my first free pass to the girls, where I decided the benefit of watching the movie outweighed the risks. My kids were going to see it, parenting books be damned.
Time for my disclaimer/confession. I skipped Episodes I-III. It was a tough parenting call, but sometimes you have to put your foot down. Total respect to those that liked the second trilogy, but I’ll be diplomatic and say I did not care for it, especially Episodes I and II.
That said, when the girls got home from The Force Awakens, they were bouncing off the walls, and my heart almost overflowed with geek momma molecules when my 11 year-old said the music was one of her favorite things about the movie. Later my 4 year-old declared, “Mama, my force isn’t working.” I asked what was wrong and she replied, “I’m trying to knock things down with it and it’s not happening.” Again, bursting with a pride that would only have been greater if her force had ACTUALLY worked. I was going to write that, as a child, I similarly tried to move objects with my mind or call them to me with my outstretched hand, but let’s be honest, I still do it occasionally, just in case my powers have blossomed since my youth…
The only drawback has been that the light saber battles in our house sometimes get out of control. Some of my sabers have been broken. This made me upset. Now everyone has their own, plus a few extra I have stashed in my closet for emergencies.
The impact of comic books and sci-fi/superhero movies on popular culture has become more prominent in recent years, and continues to grow. They speak to something in all of us, to the children who still believe they can fly and to the grown-ups who seek an escape from the chaos of the world around us. They represent our oldest and most deeply rooted fantasies , the battle between good and evil, the triumph of the good guys, the idea that even an ordinary person can become extraordinary – and with the phenomenal abilities of modern technology, these fantasies are now played out before us with such a stunning visual creativity and sense of reality, that we are drawn in as if we are a part of it ourselves.
Some things transcend generations. My little girl wants to be Princess Leia instead of Cinderella because Leia “…is a warrior.” That’s awesome. Some time I’ll talk about my children’s obsession with Death, as in, The Endless. I’m going to get a call from one of their schools some day. I just know it.