Star Wars & Me, Episode 3: Return Of The Monomyth

It is 2016 and I have seen a new Star Wars movie. This time, my date was my daughter.

Who kinda had to be talked into it.

Okay, confession time: my kids have still not seen the original trilogy all the way through. We’ve tried. They made it halfway through A New Hope and Empire, then got bored and ran off. When it came time to watch Return of the Jedi, I started it halfway through so we could do the ending and get them to bed.

They liked the Ewoks okay.

I can’t really blame them. They are swimming in awesome speculative fiction. They’ve got Harry Potter, and even more crucially, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both of these series are rich, full of deep characters struggling with the war between light and darkness, and tend to have better representation as far as female characters go.

Star Wars is kind of slow. And boring. And, until recently a sausage party.

So even though the films are really gospel to me, they have nowhere near that pull on my kids’ imagination.
I had to really sell my daughter on The Force Awakens. Daddy-daughter date. Candy and popcorn. (I’m cheap enough that we snuck the popcorn in. It’s like a dollar a bag at Trader Joe’s!) And I promised to get her home in time to play with her friends. For an eight-year-old, she was already doing a good impression of teenaged bargaining.

So we saw the movie. I was rather moved by the central father-son conflict, of course, and thought Harrison Ford hammed things up appropriately. Daisy Ridley came straight out of the Hermione Granger School of Heroines, which was okay by me. Other bits–like the obvious Save-The-Cat formula used for the script–were annoying.

But I was mostly interested in my daughter’s reaction. Would the mythology that shaped me be interesting to her, here in its new form?

“So, did you like it?” I asked as we walked out of the theater, aware that the franchise closest to my heart was competing with a whole lot of other, possibly better, stories.

“Yeah! I like Rey!”