As a kid, I don’t think I knew anyone who wasn’t into Star Wars – the movies, the toys, the glasses, the everything. Maybe not so much the Gamorrean Guard soap (which my brother and I did get for Christmas one year) but kids of my generation, by and large, consumed everything Star Wars. For me, it worked out perfectly that the series played out in 1983, when I was 11, at the very cusp of when your Star Wars action figures, which up until that now could talk and do all sorts of cool stuff, turn into pieces of plastic. It wasn’t long thereafter that I kind of stopped playing with toys and turned my attention to record albums completely. As a parent of my own 11 year-old, I’m sometimes a little embarrassed that my daughter hasn’t even seen all the Star Wars movies. She loves the Lego Star Wars Wii game, and she’s not so culturally sheltered that she doesn’t know who Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt are. But pressed to tell you the storyline of the movies, she probably couldn’t do it.
It’d be easy to blame myself for this, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying. One time, when Heidi was gone to a conference or something, I asked her if she wanted to watch Return of the Jedi, since earlier in the day we’d been playing ROTJ levels in Lego Star Wars. She turned to me and said “Dad, you know that I’m really not into WATCHING Star Wars. Just playing it.” Well, excuse me. I managed to talk her into it eventually, and we watched all the way up to the point when the Ewoks capture Han, Leia, Chewie, R2, and C3PO. This was probably a year ago. We haven’t revisited it – no real reason, but it just hasn’t crossed our minds.
I’ll be the first to admit heresy and say that I don’t think the Star Wars films have aged terribly well. Some of this is because of Lucas’ endless tinkering, but for me, what seemed so thrilling as a kid comes off as very cheesy as an adult. And I can barely stomach C3PO, always whining and going on about something. But I also don’t begrudge those that adore the films – I mostly just like them for what they are. And maybe that’s why I haven’t forced the issue with my daughter. She is also Miss Short Attention Span Theater when it comes to things that she is not totally into. Movies that she perceives as moving too slowly or as “not exciting enough” do not capture her attention. I sometimes wonder if there is something about being a girl that doesn’t allow her to plug into the Star Wars mythos as much, but I tend not to give that theory too much credence because I know plenty of women that love Star Wars.
The more I think about why my child is not all that into Star Wars, the more I realize that this is probably an example of the apple not falling all that far from the tree. It doesn’t bother her one iota that she has not seen Star Wars or Indiana Jones or most super hero films. My dream of having a child with whom I could watch horror films (since Heidi was such a disappointment in that realm) has also been shattered – we watched the Spielberg War of the Worlds remake one day and Anna was too freaked out to sleep. But when I look at my own consumption of visual media, I find that it’s not really all that different from Anna’s. I gave up on Mad Men, which some people argue is the best television drama ever created. I don’t watch Modern Family or Community and I don’t feel like there’s a void in my life. Perhaps more shockingly, I’ve never watched a single episode of The Office. I’ll pause while the Internet does a collective gasp. It’s okay that other people like them, but I’m just extremely particular about what I want to watch. I intensely dislike watching episodic television in real time, preferring to consume it in large chunks on DVD or via streaming services. Nothing bothers me more than the fact that we’re going to have to watch Warehouse 13 a week at a time when it resumes in April. A first world problem, to be sure. TV is a big time sink, and even shows that I like tend to get shoved aside for other things I’d rather be doing.
Believe me when I say I’m not looking down my nose at television – anyone who watches trash like Revenge certainly can’t afford to do that. Hopefully this doesn’t offend anyone because it’s not my intention to judge or anything like that. Still, some folks will probably want to wash out my mouth with that Gamorrean Guard soap. But I guess that what I’ve learned is that when I wonder where my daughter gets her general “who cares?” when it comes to Star Wars, I have my own genes to blame.