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From one Storyteller to Another

This weekend my wife went to visit some friends in another state. It turned out to be a drama filled adventure all its own, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about me being equal parts devoted parent and dork. My children are 5 and 3 at the moment and I decided that it was time to introduce them to one of the staples American cinema culture: the Star Wars series.

First my thoughts on the series. I saw the first one (episode IV) in the theater when it came out. I was almost young enough to not know any better. The one thing that stuck with me was, “These guys are flying through space, why do I keep hearing the space ships?”  A few years later Episode V came out and the part that really killed it for me was when Luke was hanging upside down from Bespin City waiting to be picked up by the Millenium Falcon. Gas clouds aren’t known for their breathable atmospheres. Yes, I was a dork even as a kid. To be honest, I was a Star Trek fan more than Star Wars. I loved the science behind it and how they tried hard to make everything make sense. Not so in Star Wars – and to a young kid such as I was I didn’t know the difference between space opera and science fiction.

I won’t share my thoughts on the first three episodes when they came out and I saw them as a cynical adult.

Now, as a father, I have fresh thoughts to share. In episode I the acting was questionable at times. At others it just plain sucked. The story was entertaining, but am I the only person who thinks it’s kind of creepy that someone old enough to be elected the ruler of a world feels so strongly about a kid that when he shows up on her doorstep 10 years later (still not really an adult) she falls head over heels for him? I think most civilizations have laws against that sort of thing.

So in episode II I think we have the best of the three prequels, from an entertainment perspective. I’d love to rip that goofy rat tail off of Annakin’s head, but that’s just a personal preference. To really complete the picture Obi Wan should have been sporting a mullet. In this book we begin to have the force explained to us, and how the Jedi are so “good” because they fight to have no feelings or attachments. In fact, it’s considered downright respectable to have no ambitions in life. I’m surprised the Jedi council didn’t consist of a bunch of people slumped on couches passing a joint around.

Enter episode III. Annakin is a whiny bitch more or less throughout the movie. In fact he ruined Darth Vader for me. Yes, Darth Vader was previously my favorite character in the entire series. When Annakin switched sides it was more than just lacking, it was insulting. He gave no real reason for the switch, he just put on his knee pads, knelt down, and offered to service the emperor. Leading up to it we learned more about the force and the Jedi. I have to say that, given how the Jedi are supposed to forsake all things in life except for being mindless sheep, I’d go the sith route too. I can’t imagine any desire to visit destruction on people at large but a person without ambition and goals is little better than a boat anchor. And the way senator Amidala punched out because of a broken heart in spite of the fact that she just had twins? That’s pathetic! Cowardly, selfish, and ultimately the kids got lucky they didn’t have to live with a mother like that. As for Natalie Portman – by Episode III I thought she’d really grown as an actress and was doing an excellent job.

I haven’t had the kids watch IV, V, and VI yet but we’ll get around to that sometime. It’s not because I want them to love the movies (although it was cute as hell when they both picked up toy swords so they could pretend to be fighting in the beginning of the clone wars at the end of episode II), it’s because I figure other kids may be and I don’t want them to feel ignorant or left out. As a parent I’m not sure I like a lot of the messages I see the movies portraying to kids. I want my kids to be motivated and ambitious. I don’t want them trying to choke their classmates across the room if they have a disagreement, but I also don’t want them trying to not care about anything so they can make sure they’re not going to turn into a bad person. Fear is a great thing, it teaches us lessons and helps us to grow. Being afraid is not a bad thing! Overcoming a fear is what makes a person a hero.

All in all, I think George Lucas did a great job of providing mindless entertainment, but a lousy job at telling a story. I’ve always felt conflicted about Star Wars. I enjoy the setting and the opportunities but I feel it’s been done an injustice in the way its been portrayed. I even started a Star Wars story once (writing, not reading), but I gave it up for fear of any IP or copyright concerns. Some day I’d still love to go there, but that’s a matter requiring releases and reassurances that I wouldn’t have my ass sued off.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

  1. March 20, 2012 at 14:01

    Have to disagree about the third film – sent shivers down my spine as at the end Darth Vader was ‘created’ in the form I had remembered as a child in the first trilogy. The biggest disappointment (ja ja aside) is the fact that if you watch them in the new order you do not get the impact of those immortal lines “Luke I am your father”!

    • March 20, 2012 at 14:04

      I even thought the new Darth Vader was a wuss with the way he lost control and acted like a spoiled brat when Palpatine told him that he’d killed Amidala.

      The Annakin-is-Jesus moment in the first one cracked me up too (conceived by mitichlorians (or however they’re spelled), since his mother claimed he had no father).

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