Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Star Wars and a 5 year old.

Published: 28 Dec 2011

My son has been introduced to Star Wars characters very early on through toys. However, the movies were a mystery to him until recently. He doesn’t watch a lot of TV and movies, and when he does he tends to stick with Pixar style movies. I really wasn’t sure if he’d like the movies. A New Hope is filled with so much dialog, I nearly lost him entirely.

What I wasn’t expecting was how informative it would be for me to watch with him. It was a very interesting experience engaging with his psyche as he worked.

Through the movies he asked a lot of questions and made (too) many comments. Some of which were obvious but others really surprised me. Things I hadn’t thought about or just from a different perspective. Now I’m convinced my son has more intuition regarding social dynamics than I do.

While the overall story of the movie was too complex and actually didn’t interest him very much, he was amazed at the world and the general situation about it.

Philosophical Explanations

The idea of Good vs. Evil is easy to understand. The concepts of alliances and nationalism are much harder to explain. My son wanted to know why there were two sides. What were they fighting over? Why would people fight against Darth Vader’s team?

I honestly explained that I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why they’re fighting. The empire is bad, the rebellion is good. I diverted it to tell him that they are like teams. He knows that teams play and “battle” in the course of a game. What makes the Empire bad and the Rebellion good is the actions of the people.

He could understand this. It was made even easier by Darth Vader unceremoniously executing everybody who makes mistakes.

Why is Darth Vader mean to people on his team?

Through the movies, Vader is quite fond of the Mental Choke Hold. And taking out high ranking crew for making minor mistakes. The promotion, and attrition, rate is high in the Imperial military. My son simply wanted to know why. Why would a leader be so mean?

I explained that some people in power are mean, like bullies. He’s aware of bullies already. He then said, “But you shouldn’t get rid of people on your team.” I tried to press for more information but we were moved on to more exciting scenes. I believe he meant that you are weakening yourself.

Up next, when Vader and Skywalker are engaged in battle he was very curious why Vader kept encouraging Luke to join him. Also, my son refuses to call Luke anything but “Skywalker”. Why? Well, that’s what Darth Vader calls him.

Why does he want Skywalker on his team?

I explained that the best way to win is to have the strongest players on your team. It doesn’t help to fight against strong people if they will join you. That just makes your team, and you, stronger.

He responded, “But if I was the strongest, I wouldn’t want anybody on either team!” A bit anarchist, but it makes sense in a world where that’s an option.

There was a lot of additional comments about various strength, and how Yoda can be strong when he seems small and weak. Yoda failed to inspire him at all. Even lifting the X-Wing didn’t get Yoda many points.

I’m pretty sure my son would happily join the Dark Side, just because the Empire has bigger and cooler ships. He seemed to really look at the whole of the organization. I don’t think he cared much about the story but was fixated on the imaginary world. This leads to his final question, which really surprised me.

Is Princess Leia the only Star Wars girl?

I never noticed this. We were half-way through The Empire Strikes Back when he asked this. I stopped and asked him to clarify. He rightly pointed out that, with the exception of Luke’s aunt, there are no other females in the entire story (up to that point).

There aren’t a tremendous amount of characters in the original Star Wars movies, but it does seem only one main, recurring character is a woman. No wonder Leia thinks everybody is trying to hook up with her. Even the extras are mostly men.

When I asked him why he noticed, he said, “Well, there is a lot of fighting and girls don’t like fighting.”