I was a “Star Wars” fan growing up, though that might be putting it mildly. I remember being captivated by the original (which is technically now called “A New Hope,” but that means I have to acknowledge the existence of those prequels, and I prefer not to do that, so I’m calling it old school “Star Wars”). So captivated, in fact, that I saw it over and over again in the theater, including multiple shows in one day. So like millions of OG fans I was excited to see “The Force Awakens.”
I bought the tickets for me and my two kids when they went on presale in October–even though we were on vacation in Hawaii (fittingly, I Fandangoed the tickets while floating in the lazy river at Aulani–Disney synergy!). Conveniently, the kids’ school break started Dec. 18 so I didn’t even have to pull them from school to see the movie (though I would have). The day came and I was definitely the most excited out of the three of us. The previews ended, the Lucasfilm title card came up and I got a shiver of anticipation–the thrill of the new and the rush of nostalgia colliding at once. I promised my kids I wouldn’t totally embarrass them by yelling out in joy during the movie and mostly kept to that (though a little whoop escaped me when they revealed the Millennium Falcon).
And I liked the movie. Rey was a great heroine, seeing the original stars was terrific and BB-8 was adorable (and so was Oscar Isaac). But when the movie was over and we were walking back to the car, I felt a little melancholy. I asked the kids what they thought and they both said they really liked it–no complaints, but no “wow, that was the best thing ever.” Initially, I chalked up my feelings to the fact that the anticipation and excitement leading up to the movie was over–months of build up and watching the trailers on YouTube and reading stories were behind us. But the more I thought about it, the more I came back to my kids’ reaction, and how different it was from mine after I saw “Star Wars.”
“Star Wars” fundamentally altered what I thought about movies, not just for me but for millions of people. It expanded my world and sparked my creativity–I spent hours playing with the action figures and even made my own “Star Wars” movie with them. But it wasn’t the same kind of game changer for my kids. For them, it was a cool movie and nothing more than that. They went back to their TV shows and video games and apps and all the stuff that is part of their regular lives. They will probably be just as excited to see the “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel when it comes out.
And that made me sad. It’s not just that the “Star Wars” magic didn’t get passed down to my kids. I wonder if movies still have the capability to excite us with something new and groundbreaking, not when we have a world of content available at the click of a mouse or tap of a button. I wonder what is out there that will give my kids that same sense of awe that “Star Wars” gave me.