By Thomas S Palmer
Is the Force Still Strong with Today’s Generation?
As a proud father of a 5 year old boy, one of my greatest joys in life has been sharing a love of all things coming from a galaxy far, far away with him. When Star Wars was first released in 1977, I was only 8 years old and up until that monumental moment, the only films that I had ever seen were either made by Disney, starred Sinbad or fell into the category of b-flicks. I still have vivid memories of seeing Star Wars for the first time; my gaze fixed upon the scrolling prologue text that filled the screen and floated into a star filled oblivion. It was then that it had dawned on me that I had found my promised land.
Nearly 40 years have passed since then, and Star Wars can be found everywhere you look. I feel that the overall quality of the new material being produced is great for the most part, but does today’s younger generation appreciate the ongoing space saga the same way that the original fans did back in ‘77?
Not only do I believe that today’s kids are experiencing the same awe and wonder from Star Wars that my generation did, I also feel that they are taking their passions to the next level. With the advent of the internet, Star Wars fan films based on the Knights of the Old Republic games, dueling Jedi Knights and so much more have been created and freely available to appreciative viewers all around the world. I recall doing a YouTube search for light saber duels back in the video sharing website’s early days. Some of the best results that I came across included two teenage fans using spectacular post production effects to create some amazing visuals that were, in my humble opinion, worthy of the official Star Wars universe . I can only imagine, based on personal experience with my own son, that the influence of these kids’ parents was integral to their creative endeavors. Maybe the force was just calling out to them- Either way, these creative and ambitious works were (and are) great to see.
It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan of any age these days. Younger kids may be discovering Star Wars for the first time through one of the two upcoming sequel trilogy films, or perhaps one of the new anthology films. Television epics like Star Wars Rebels and upcoming live action shows are providing more tales, adventures and exposure to the general public than I could ever have dreamed of in my youth. The new generation of fans have more toys, comics and books available to them to enjoy and collect than we ever did in the past. Costumes have become even bigger and more elaborate today than when we dressed as our favourite characters for Halloween. You can see examples of all sorts of heroes and villains from those distant galaxies at theme parties, Cosplay conventions and, of course, still roaming the streets on Halloween.
As I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the first time with my 5 year old son, I traveled back in time to my youth through him. I felt like that kid again, sitting with my big brother eating my butter soaked popcorn in the dark theatre, reading those famous words ‘A long time ago in galaxy far, far away…’ The moment I shared this experience with my son was as fresh and thrilling as the first time. I expect the current and future generations of Star Wars fans will continue to enjoy the ever growing saga just as much as those who preceded them did.
So yes, I do believe that Star Wars affects the younger generations with the same magic that started it all when Luke first learned of the force and destroyed the Death Star. As I look at my son, I can’t help but appreciate how our children do help us relive the memories of our youth and I suspect their children will do the same for them. In turn, we help them discover the magical wonder that is Star Wars and fuel their imaginations that will be sent forward onto the next generation.