Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Force Still Moves Me.

I was only around four years old when Star Wars a New Hope opened in theaters- and I was immediately hooked. Not just on the Star Wars franchise- but anything space, science fiction or fantasy related. Cripes, I remember having an unhealthy fascination with Boney M's Night Flight to Venus just because my mom told me they were all astronauts. She flashed the cover of the album just to prove it. I swear I never would have listened to that crap otherwise...honest.

When the disco glow of Boney M grew dim, my Aunt Catherine, desperate to hear something, anything, else introduced me to the Carpenters- who covered the old Klaatu song "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (the recognized Anthem of World Contact Day). I played it over and over and over again- it mesmerized me. Before the end of my visit home that summer my Uncle Billy snapped the album in half.

While I was jonesing for the next installment of Star Wars I was taken in by its more cerebral cousin: Star Trek. The reruns used to play at suppertime everyday on CBC- and I never missed one episode. I even watched Spock's Brain.


Now that is devotion.

Most of my favourite books, music and toys had a space theme- with the only notable exception being all things Tolkien. All my stories and games I created in my head were set in the distant future where everyone knew how to fly, technology was a saviour and women could kick some serious ass. Especially the green women.

It appears I am not alone.

George Lucas created a winning formula: the ultimate quest with heroic and compelling characters who millions of people grew up with, rooted for and loved. Lucas took us on an intergalactic joy ride for those first few magical years and then brutally; without compassion or finesse, unleashed the prequels to the original series upon his unsuspecting fans- ramming the entire mythology down the crapper of popular culture. He didn't even bother to flush.

And yet, the magic of the original series still has power. It still speaks to millions of little boys and girls who tinker with Star Wars figurines long after bed time- hiding under the sheets with a flashlight and a makeshift rebel base made of stuffed animals and books. There, locked in a noble battle for the safety of the universe, they lovingly create their own star wars until sleep overtakes them.

And all those kids, myself included, who so loved the series as children hold a place in their hearts for it still. That is why Williams Sonoma can sell a mock up of the original lunch box, or ThinkGeek can hook you up with a Tauntaun Sleeping bag (it was on my wish list this year, but Santa didn't figure it was worth 100 bucks). We have also introduced the magic to our kids. Somehow, in this age of ADHD they don't seem to find Jar-Jar Binks as offensive as their adult counterparts. Star Wars, despite George Lucas' recent fumblings, remains popular; from the Clone Wars cartoons to the Star Wars Lego products it still speaks directly to our hearts.

This would explain why the recent explosion of genuine affection for the recent Volkswagen commercial. How many millions of parents have a little guy or gal at home exactly like this? How many of us could put ourselves in this pint size version of Darth Vader's shoes? A lovely little take on the magic of childhood, and the power of creative parenting.

For the two of you who missed it:

As with all good things on the Internet- there is a parody to be found as well. This time with Toyota at the wheel. Perversely enough, I believe I found this one even funnier then its forerunner. It has quite a different take on children today and creative parenting... and car companies?

May the Force be with you.


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