Those of my generation can’t deny the importance of Star Wars. Even if you didn’t geek out about it as much as some of us did, Star Wars has a hallowed place in pop culture history.
Recently, I got to share Episode 4 with my kids and step kids. 4 of them had never seen it before, and another one couldn’t remember it because he last watched it when he was a lot younger.
When you share something you love with other people, you are forced to look at it through different eyes. As I shared this treasure, this movie that I literally have memorized, I was wondering what my kids were thinking. Did they like it as much as I did when I was their age? This constant questioning forced me to watch the movie in a new way. I was more critical. I noticed everything that I subconsciously knew was wrong with the movie, but never admitted to myself.
First of all, Star Wars is so incredibly slow. In the context of current movies it is molasses in January. Of course, I have never seen molasses in real life, much less in January, but I assume it is pretty damn slow. For the first 75% of the movie, nothing happens, especially through the eyes of modern kids who are used to faster paced fare. Never before in my life had I ever watched Star Wars and thought it was boring, but I did while watching it with my kids.
Of course, the special effects are not up to par with today’s technology. Even the stuff Lucas added on the 156th version looks dated. My kids don’t care that when I was their age this stuff was mind blowing, and they certainly don’t care that Han shot first. Every time something looked bad, it felt ten times worse to me because they were watching it for the first time.
What would be left to impress them with are the story elements. However, my kids already know the jaw dropping moments. They already know Vader is Luke’s father. They already know about lightsabers and X-wings. They already know that Jar-Jar… freaking Jar-Jar. Even though they have never seen the original trilogy, the things they are seeing are still not new. When I first saw these things as a kid they were amazing. Obi-Wan dies? Vader is Luke’s father? Leia is his sister? I remember learning all those things for the first time. For my kids, they are simply watching what everyone has talked about. They are only putting pop culture references into context, and that doesn’t make for as grand an experience.
Maybe I am just getting old. Did my parents have something that they tried to share with me that I just didn’t get? I don’t think so. They shared things, but I think I got them. I liked listening to Elvis and Foreigner. The theme to Hill Street Blues or an old episode of This Old House puts me back in my parents’ den watching TV with my dad. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was, and still is, awesome.
And maybe my kids did appreciate Star Wars. They said they liked it, but would they have said otherwise after I had made such a big deal about it? Of course, nothing truly holds up forever. After a while, every movie will show its age. The question then becomes, will it become a classic or will it fade away into obscurity. I think we have seen that Star Wars and the universe it created will be around for a long time. But it wasn’t until I watched it through the eyes of my children that I ever questioned its greatness.