Movies

The Parental 'Star Wars' Panic

While I recognize the danger of pronouncing two things a trend, I couldn't help noticing that the "Mommy Files" blog at SFGate.com last week featured the second public fretting I have seen this month (the first was in Slate, here) over whether it's okay to let your kids watch Star Wars.

The "Mommy Files" entry now has 148 comments attached to it. For every point of view, there is a representative: You're crazy if you let your 4-year-old watch Star Wars. You're crazy if you don't let your 4-year-old watch Star Wars. Letting your kid watch Star Wars will warp his brain. Not letting your kid watch Star Wars will make him sheltered. Kids who watch Star Wars are ruining society. Kids whose parents coddle them are ruining society.

The same thing, essentially, happened when Emily Bazelon wrote about Star Wars in Slate. It seems to be an awfully emotional issue for people, this business of little children and Star Wars.

A few relevant dates, after the jump...

To begin with, Star Wars came out in 1977, so if it opened on the day you were born, you're about to turn 32. Just about the right age to have little kids. If it came out between your 4th and 10th birthdays, you are somewhere between 35 and 41 — just the right age to have slightly older kids and perhaps the... well, the benefit of your experience to share, let's call it.

In other words, if this was the prominent pop-culture phenomenon of your childhood, you're right in the sweet spot of transferring it to your kids.

All I know is that I saw Star Wars when it came out, and I was 6. It was probably one of the first movies I ever saw that wasn't purely a kids' movie. I can't say it hurt me, that I know of. (Though I do find myself periodically attracted to funny-looking musicians. Now I know how that started.)

I don't remember finding Star Wars particularly scary — the major memory I have of finding something absolutely terrifying as a child has something to do with Babes in Toyland. I can't even remember whether it was a book version or a movie or what. I just hear the words Babes in Toyland and my blood runs cold. I do not inquire further of my subconscious.

Given that almost every Disney movie features the prominent separation of child from parent, sometimes rather violently, it's interesting that Star Wars causes parental angst that, say, The Lion King would not. Is it the trash compactor?

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