Thursday, August 27, 2009

A new generation of Jedi

George Lucas haunts my dreams as of late.

Many months ago, my oldest son, Gavin, got into robots. Wall-E was his world. In a moment of parental weakness and nostalgia, I guess, I showed him a YouTube clip of the Hoth battle sequence from The Empire Strikes Back, with the goal of introducing him to AT-AT walkers. Oh, dear. What a can of worms I opened that day. What were these laser cannon things? Those sweet snowspeeders? And what, pray tell, is that gloriously glowing sword of light, Dad?! PLEASE TELL ME NOW!!

Gavin (6) and his brother Aidan (4) fashioned out of paper and string masks for themselves — Darth Vader, and a Storm Trooper — to wear while playing. Their dollar-store foam swords were swords no more, but light sabers. Gavin's thirst for Star Wars grew insatiable. Without my knowledge, he got his grandpa to spend an evening on YouTube cruising movie clips. There he learned of such unsavory characters as General Grievous and Darth Maul. Indeed, he appears to have already begun embracing the way of the Dark Side of the Force (at least, that's what his mother says when her patience is tried).

In fairness to him, I have admittedly fed his interest somewhat. Star Wars was fascinating to me as a kid, too. I was his age when The Empire Strikes Back was released, and I have a vague memory of seeing the film in the theater — quite possibly my first theater experience ever. (This fact is not lost on Gavin when I tell him he's too young to watch the movie himself.) When I asked some friends for suggestions on new games for our Wii console, I was advised to look into the Lego game series. Naturally, I settled on Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. My whole family has loved playing this game, which is challenging enough to be enjoyable to the adults while still being great fun for the kids, too.

It didn't stop there, though. It couldn't. The music in that game — most notably "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" — stirred my own Star Wars desires. I purchased a CD of orchestral recordings of various songs from the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the DVDs of all six of the films. Those arrived a week or so ago. The CD is now near-daily fuel for my sons' imaginations; the DVDs have provided my wife and I with some late-night entertainment, too.

But now the Star Wars connection is appearing outside the family, too. Yesterday on Facebook, a good friend posted a status message about watching Episode 2, and the following thread (edited for brevity) ensued:

Ben Collins-Sussman: Star Wars episode 2 is truly one of the worst movies ever made. Why can't I stop watching? It's like rubbernecking a car wreck.

C. Michael Pilato: I just watched that last night! … But look on the bright side -- it's still better than Episode III.

John Bourdeaux: There are few things more disappointing than episodes 1-3.

C. Michael Pilato: @John: Agreed. Though Episode 6 is a close call. It's like some kind of interplanetary smash-up of Fraggle Rock and Willow.

Greg Kirkpatrick: I can't wait for lucas to finally make episodes 1-3 …

Brian W. Fitzpatrick: What are you guys talking about? I always thought it was a shame that they never made any Star Wars movies after Return of the Jedi back in the 80s.

C. Michael Pilato: "Comes first, denial does. When clears the haze, reality you see. Six films there are: three of worth, three of the Dark Side. Now sets in, pain. Afraid not are you of poor storytelling? You will be. You wiiiiiiiill be." -- Master Yoda

Greg Kirkpatrick: noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…!

And the references show up lately even when not talking directly about Star Wars. Yesterday, I also learned that one of my and my wife's favorite musicians, Jennifer Knapp, appears to have returned from obscurity. But when glancing at comments made on an article announcing this fact, I see:

I hope she doesn’t George Lucas her career up.
— buffalo Buffalo buffalo · Aug 27, 12:13 PM ·

Can Pandora's box be shut? And, all joking aside, do I really want it shut? I mean, isn't it better to have two young boys whose imaginations are bursting with activity and whose play involves clearly defined ideas of right and wrong than to have kids whose eyes are glazed over from watching too much Dora the Explorer and Spongebob? (That's a rhetorical question — I'm confident in my own answer.)

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