Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adventures in Parenting: What Time is the Right Time, for Star Wars?

The other day, Logan and I were in the basement and after some flipping around of TV channels, Logan said "That's just like Star Wars." I don't know exactly what was "just like Star Wars" about changing channels on the TV. Maybe it was something he saw that flashed by on the screen, who knows.

Then I wondered where Logan had come across Star Wars before. I've never really introduced him to Star Wars. It's not that I've tried to keep him away from Star Wars, but it's not something he's really had much exposure to. I have no problem with him enjoying Star Wars, I was quite the Star Wars nerd back in the day.

So for the past couple days now I've been wondering if it's the right time to introduce Logan to Star Wars. Some of you may have seen this before:

All joking aside, is now the right time to introduce Logan to Star Wars? He's four years old, and primarily, I'm worried about him getting scared and then getting turned off from the movies. I would obviously start with A New Hope. We'll save the prequels for another time, perhaps the next time we have a bonfire.

I don't think there's too much in A New Hope that will scare him. Sure there are a variety of aliens in the bar and there's the monster in the trash compactor in the Death Star, but I can't think of anything that's downright scary.

I think Empire with the wompa, the bounty hunters, Han Solo's torture, etc. will have to wait. Likewise, Jedi, with the rancor, sarlac, and other creatures. But I'm really tempted to sit down with him one of these days and watch A New Hope.

I think I'll play it on the safe side, though, and wait until he's at least five. But I don't know, what do you think?


Some dude stuck in the Midwest said...

Tough question, I still don't know when it would be appropriate. I think I'll wait until she asks. She knows all of the characters already.

I think she got introduced to it first when a boy in her kindergraden came in wearing a StarWars t-shirt.

mattw said...

Logan's been introduced to Batman and seems to have a basic understanding of who Batman and Robin are, and that they 'get the bad guys'. He plays Lego Batman on the Wii. We have Lego Star Wars, and he knows it's there, but he hasn't really shown an interest in it.

Eric said...

How old is Logan, again?

I saw Star Wars in 1977, in the theatre, with my Mom. I was five. It remains, possibly, still, after all these years, the single greatest experience in my life. Then again, I was pretty prepped and stoked for it: I'd long been a fan of Star Trek, not via TV, ironically (this was Trek's fallow years, remember), but via picture books and ViewMaster slides. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I liked reading about black holes and traveling faster than light. I was a little space nerd, and going to see Star Wars was my idea, not my Mom's. I might have made a little bindle with my security blanket and a stick, wrapped up all my toys and run away from home if she'd kept me away, though.

Months later, as my sixth birthday approached, I was very specific about what I wanted: the Star Wars record, and not, I made sure to be clear, the one with the book and people talking on it, I wanted the one that was just the music. How could my parents say no to their five-year-old kid asking for a neoclassical double album? Their only condition was that the album (which I still have in storage; disc one is a bit warped but I think the whole thing's still playable) remain with their records and I had to listen to it on their turntable and not my crappy little Fisher-Price record player. I'm sure I was frustrated, but in retrospect they were wise. Anyway, it was never a problem: I asked them to play my Star Wars record, they set up the turntable (their turntable had an autochanger, and the soundtrack album was actually pressed for that, with the odd-numbered sides, IIRC, on one piece of vinyl and the even sides on the other; or maybe it was 1/4 and 2/3, but at any rate the sides were nonconsecutive), and I would sit in front of the speakers with my little die cast X-Wing and imagine legions of Jedi Knights just like Ben marching along, and last-ditch strafing runs against the carpet.

I think, though, that this may answer or at least offer insight into your question, Matt: five was only too young if you're afraid of your kid becoming an SF/fantasy geek who dreams of alien worlds and loves music. Though, of course, mileage may vary, and not all five-year-olds are the same.

mattw said...

Eric, He's four. I can't remember when I first saw Star Wars, but I was probably 5 or 6.

I'm not afraid of him growing up to be a geek. I figure that's a given. Brandi's afraid of that, but I know it's just a matter of time.

I'm more worried about him getting scared of the movie and either 1) needed to sleep in our bed every night for a while or 2) getting scared of Star Wars and not wanting to watch it again (clearly the worse option).

Eric said...

Matt, he's probably close to old enough for Star Wars, though obviously kids vary. I'd have no problem, if I had a five-year-old, showing 'em the first one and I might even be willing to share it with my hypothetical four-year-old.

The tougher question, it occurs to me (and it was funny seeing it alluded to in the video you embedded, which I was finally able to watch just now), is whether one could then wait four years to show them Empire and another two after that to show them Jedi. (Waiting sixteen years after that to show them Phantom Menace might be a good idea, thinking about it.) I mean, I think Star Wars is very appropriate for a five-year-old (how could I not?), but I'm not sure Empire is suitable for a kid that age. The cantina scene isn't really that scary--those aliens are cool, man!--but Vader ambushing the heroes and Han getting turned into a brick was a little shocking even when I was nine.

mattw said...

I'll wait on Empire and Jedi for sure. I know there are things in there that will scare him. I talk it over with Brandi once to make sure she doesn't think it's going to scare the crap out of him, but I think he's probably ready for it.

WendyB_09 said...

I suspect he may have been exposed by schoolmates that watch the current cartoon incarnation Clone Wars from the Cartoon Network. Personally, I was 21 when the first movie came out and happily spent every spare evening that summer in line with our friends and family to see Star Wars again.

Not having kids, I can't speak from any level of experience. But if he gets the basic concept of good and bad guys, I think a journey to that universe could soon be in your future. I can only think of one or two scenes that might need further explanation, and there was not a lot of blood and gore in the original version (not the enhanced rerelease).