This afternoon, home from school because of snow, my son and a buddy watched The Empire Strikes Back, truly the best of the Star Wars movies. I popped in and out to catch my favorite moments. Having seen the movie well over one hundred times, I knew exactly when these moments were.
This is a big deal for him, because I had originally told him that he would see the Star Wars movies at the age I saw them. His birthday present when he turned seven was to see Star Wars (technically A New Hope, but now known as “Number Four”). But I determined that he would have to wait until he was nine to see the sequel. My wife considered this cruel, both because most of his friends have seen the entire series and because I talk about Star Wars constantly.
Apparently, my son was also talking about it a great deal, because his friends started talking about it. For that matter the two-year-old little sisters of my son’s friends began talking about “Darfader” and staging light-saber duels between their dolls. (My son is apparently a natural trendsetter.) So my son’s friends dads let their sons watch the movies so that they wouldn’t feel left out. I don’t think these dads needed much prodding. So my son became the one left out, although we read Star Wars books, re-enacted key scenes, and discussed the historical background of the Star Wars universe ad nauseam.
We did let him watch a video about the making of Star Wars, which inspired him to create one of his terrific games within games. First we would be the production committee, organizing the next scene of the movie. Then we would draw it out with magic markers. Then we would actually re-enact the scene.
When we finally let him watch Star Wars an odd thing happened. He didn’t seem blown away by the adventure (although I couldn’t get a good read because my wife had to keep shushing me when I tried to recite the lines.) But, he already knew a lot of the action. But he burst into laughter at some of the funny parts, like R2-D2 trundling around the desert on Tatooine or some of the moments in the trash compactor. But then I knew another generation was born when, at the very end when the Death Star is destroyed (I hope I’m not ruining it for anyone) he simply said, “Wow!”
Original Star Wars Generation
We were dubbed Generation-X by the Baby Boomers (who frankly could not imagine any generation following them.) But really we were the Skywalker Generation. I believe we have an odd streak of hopefulness because for most of us Star Wars was the biggest, bestest thing we could possibly imagine – and then a few years later Empire Strikes Back came out and was even better. Name another sequel that was better than its predecessor. It made us believe, in something…
For people in my chronological demographic, the original Star Wars is a cultural touchstone. Rather then list the pop culture references to Star Wars allow me to share one small personal anecdote about how Star Wars soaked we are. I live near a Veers Road. Every single time I drive by or pass this road (on average over 20 times a week), I hear Darth Vader’s voice in my head commanding, “General Veers, prepare your men.”
(It was in Empire Strikes Back, and yes I rushed into the den to see the line spoken and recite it this afternoon – much to my son’s annoyance.)
A few years ago, when my brother was visiting, we drove across Veers Road, and my brother turned to me and asked, “Wasn’t Veers the Imperial commander during the battle of Hoth?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “He got to drive an AT-AT, wouldn’t that be cool?”
“Better than a bantha!”
And now, having seen Empire Strikes Back, my son will get that many more of my references:
Son, you can destroy mommy. She has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the household as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way.