Raising the Next Generation of Star Wars Fans: Passing the TorchFebruary 22, 2012 at 8:47 am | Posted in Opinion | Leave a comment
When family members of mine introduced me to the Star Wars movies, it changed my life. I became aware of science fiction, graphic novels, and video games all through one franchise. Star Wars has opened up so many doors for me, and I’ve seen it open up doors for other young people. As a lover of Star Wars, one of my greatest joys has been to cultivate the next generation of fans.
My first experience introducing ‘younglings’ to Star Wars was through babysitting. I brought my Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie DVD with me one night to watch with a 5-year-old boy whom I was taking care of. As soon as he saw it, he was hooked. He became enamored with Star Wars to the point where he had a Star Wars birthday that year, including a magician dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi. This birthday party introduced the concept of Star Wars to all of the boy’s friends, and pretty soon his entire preschool was involved. Now, when I walk by his preschool, I can still see the Return of the Jedi movie poster they hung during the school’s (now annual) ‘Star Wars Day’. All the children at the preschool got to make their own light sabers and play ‘Jedi vs. Sith’ games for the day. It’s amazing to think that because of just introducing one small boy to Star Wars, an entire group of young children are now in love with a galaxy far, far away.
Introducing children to Star Wars not only benefits the new fans, but the long-time fans as well. Through Star Wars, children can develop a love of science, writing, storytelling and more. They can gain a new perspective on life and the universe around them that they didn’t have before. This new perspective allows them to use both their imagination and critical thinking skills at a young age. Even simple questions like, “What is the Dark Side?” are ones that can teach children valuable life lessons for the future (e.g., the concept of morality, what is right and wrong, the weight of decision-making, etc.)
The experiences I have had babysitting and taking care of young children was one I will cherish for years to come. Seeing so many kids find joy in Star Wars reminded me a lot of when I first discovered George Lucas’ creation. I thought Darth Vader was one of the coolest villains ever (I still do), and playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on my uncle’s Xbox was what exposed to me to the fantastic world of video games. Star Wars even improved my writing: I wrote my first ‘Star Wars’ fanfiction in 5th grade, based on the Knights of the Old Republic video games.
All of this points to how important raising the next generation of Star Wars fans is. Talking about Star Wars with children has actually reinvigorated my love of the movies (even if the kids I meet don’t understand what’s so bad about Jar-Jar Binks!). Passing on the joy of Star Wars to the next generation is a wonderful experience that every adult (or young adult) fan can appreciate.
This is one of the reasons that I actually enjoy the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series on Cartoon Network. Sometimes the show can seem more narrowly directed at kids, but I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the series with the little boy I babysat. As Yoda once said, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.” With every child I meet that has a passion for Star Wars, each contributes to the fandom with new imagination and ideas.
In conclusion, as a Star Wars fan, not only do I love watching the films, but I also enjoy sharing my passion with others, especially ‘younglings’. Children are some of the most accepting and open people you’ll find. Since the world of Star Wars is so full of endless opportunities for imagination and creativity, kids really seem to embrace it. So, I encourage my fellow Star Wars fans to really reach out and have fun sharing their passions with others, as everyone should be free to be themselves, and children should grow up seeing that example emulated by adults. After all, you never know when even the slightest ‘Jedi’ reference will put a smile on a future fan’s face!