I’m still seeing my favorite Superbowl commercial-the mini Darth Vader trying to use the force on objects, and “succeeds” on the VW Jetta. And the pint-sized Sith Lord has me thinking. The Star Wars franchise was an essential part of Generation X’s childhood. And it continues to be an essential part today as Gen X took their children to see Episodes I, II, and III (along with making them watch Episodes IV, V, and VI).
“What?!” you say. Oh, no. Another dork that worships Jedi Knights and tries to invent a light saber. No. But a parent that realizes Star Wars offer visual examples of the many lessons we attempt to teach our children in order to be a productive member of society.
Let’s start with lessons in the value of friendship.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes. An eight foot tall howling hairball of the Wookie race. A dwarfish, ill-green colored elder with a speech impediment. An anxious, know-it-all droid fluent in “6 billion forms of communication.” Although they seem more like the gym classmates that weren’t the first choice of teams, Chewbacca, Yoda, and C3PO were among Luke Skywalker’s friends, which were ultimately his lifeline. They provided advice, wisdom of ages, and brute strength to help him fight an oppressive empire. In the later episodes, Obi Wan Kenobi’s humanoid and alien ties across the galaxy kept him informed of tid bits vital in the Clone Wars. The Star Wars movies, books, and television series plainly teach that one can be friends with those of different socio-economic class, religious beliefs, intellects, and race.
The biggest of help can come from those you least expect. With the fact that one can be friends with others different from oneself, Star Wars then visually shows children the importance of taking help from these friends, especially when they know more about a situation. A perfect example of this is the Battle of Endor. The Rebellion forces were captured by the Empire and all their vast technologies of walkers and speeders. And to the rescue are dozens of chunky teddy bears, springing traps of logs and bashing Storm Troopers upside the head with sticks and rocks. The Ewoks proved to Han, Leia, and Luke that even the smallest of natives know their land better and can save your neck. On the planet of Naboo, the aquatic native Gungans proved to have elegant weapons and waged an impressive defense against the droid army. This provided the needed diversion from the royal city and allowed Amidala and her guards to take back the palace. Children can generalize this to real life by asking for help during many childhood battles, including loneliness, struggling grades, and bullying.
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork! Sometimes we have to work as a team. Kids play sports and have to work together to complete classroom projects. The Star Wars movies show again and again that often times you can’t take on the galaxy by yourself. Among those who rescued Han Solo from Jabba’s palace included two droids, a handsome and smooth talking gambler, an inexperienced Jedi, and a pushy, love struck princess. Each team member brought their own talents and ideas, then played their own parts to spring their friend from the Hutt’s slimy clutches. Even the sith realized they needed the help of apprentices and droid armies to help conquer planets.
Respect your Elders. Yoda and Mace Windu attempted to warn Qui-Gon Jinn and then Obi Wan that Anakin Skywalker should not be trained as a Jedi. Both men disregarded the heeding and took him as a padawan learner. Within a couple of decades, Anakin turns into Vader, the universe’s infamous, asthmatic cyborg villain, and the rest is history. Told you so.
Think before you act. We parents attempt to teach our children to use sound judgement and make good decisions. Anakin is the epitome of acting upon feelings without thinking them through. Granted he was an excellent pilot and exemplary yielder of the Force. But he wiped out a village of Sand People. He caused much ruckus in Coruscant to catch Zam Wesell. He did not listen to his elder and Master Kenobi when facing Count Dooku, and it cost him an arm. And then the whole turning to the Darkside ordeal and aiding in the oppression of entire systems.
If you’re bossy and mean, other kids will eventually fight back. Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) wanted to take over the galaxy, and he did through manipulation and mass murder. He was the ultimate playground bully that wanted to rule the sandbox and surrounded himself with powerful and easily swayed allies. But eventually other kids got tired of his tyranny and blew up his cool space station…twice. With this larger lesson, kids can learn that nice guys don’t always finish last and that mean people really do suck and get knocked down hard.
Don’t ever give up on what you believe in. Anakin dreamed of being a powerful Jedi. Princess Leia grew up fighting for freedom. Luke longed to leave his moisture farm on a desert planet. The Rebellion never gave up on bringing down the Empire. And with much hard work, self-realization, and sacrifice, all of them stuck to their values and beliefs, beat the odds stacked against them, and accomplished the near impossible.
Parents try their best to impress these and other values and lessons on their children. The Star Wars franchise provides the larger than life characters, epic stories, and awesome visual effects to aid in that quest.