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On 'Star Wars' and Other Kid Obsessions

Ahhh. The "Star Wars" obsession. Yesterday on Slate, Emily Bazelon explores why more than 30 years after the original movie was released, the galaxy far, far away, still captivates young boys. Three years ago, when her younger son was almost 3 and her oldest was nearly 6, Bazelon's boys watched the original "Star Wars" movie:

Long after the actual memory of the film faded, Eli and Simon talked and played in George Lucas' world. When we refused to buy them toy light sabers, their baby sitter rolled up newspapers into sturdy cones. The kids crayoned them green, purple, and yellow and bashed each other over the head, not quite Jedi-like. With their friends, they dissected the business of Jabba the Hutt and the furriness of Ewoks, never mind that they appear in later movies that my kids have never seen.

The "Star Wars" sleeplessness in little Eli, along with some other research, prompted the family to banish George Lucas' movies for awhile. Now, three years later, they have returned. Unlike the first showing, sleeplessness has not ensued. But the banter of "Star Wars" plot twists and characters continues.

Clearly, there's something about "Star Wars" that captivates young boys. Long before we allowed our oldest to watch the movie, he was debating it with his kindergarten friends. And like Bazelon's boys, both of mine can recount information about characters they've never actually watched in movies. Surely, they aren't alone. A few months ago, at a showing of "The Magic Tree House: The Musical" in Baltimore, the hottest selling item in the theater was light sabers. You could barely turn anywhere without seeing kids acting out the battles.

I used to think that the "Star Wars" obsession was no different than dinosaurs or princesses. All kids, it seems, need to feel expert at something. That was what a friend -- and school counselor -- told us more than a decade ago, when her then-2 year old could tell you every word in several Tom Chapin CDs along with the musical instruments he used. On my street this week, one neighbor fondly told the story of his young nephew who knew so much about dinosaurs that he acted as a docent, leading a handful of adults around the "dinosaur" museum answering their questions about the extinct creatures. Another recounted that dinosaurs weren't her daughter's focus, but the girl could tell you every detail about every Disney princess.

What is it about "Star Wars" that prompts such boy wonder? Do you think their love of the movies is different than other obsessions? What have your kids become experts about?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers
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Comments


I have Star Wars crazy boys, and I think the attraction has multiple elements. First, it's a good story - classic good vs. evil, the type of story that humans have enjoyed for millenia. Also, it has the appeal of exciting weaponry - another age-old attraction for boys. There's also the peer element - the excitement one child has for Star Wars sparks interest in another. And last but most definitely not least, it's extremely well marketed!!!!! Star Wars toys come in almost every possible form. All in all, though, it's a heck of a lot more palatable than Pokemon or Bakugan!

Posted by: mlc2 | April 3, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

This is one of the most sexist entries that I have yet to see on this blog. The “’Star Wars’ obsession” has had the power to captivate kids (and adults) of all ages and both sexes; the same would be true for “Star Trek” as well. The ability to believe in, and “obsess” over, SFF books, movies, and television shows has drawn many kids into the world of science, mathematics, and engineering. By attempting to characterize this as a male phenomenon is what maybe a central reason as to why there is an historic lack of women in these fields. This “obsession” with SFF should be open to both males and females, something that society, from my own experience, seems reluctant to accept.

Posted by: potter4 | April 3, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

ok... sexism aside... isn't the star wars obsession by our children just reflective of the national obsession with the franchise? it's the most dominant pop culture staple that i can think of. we think it's awesome, so our kids think it's awesome. (i know, i know, not all of us think it's awesome, but you get my point)

i would assume that child raised in a bubble wouldn't care too much about it.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | April 3, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I can't get beyond the incredible sexism in this article. I was 6 years old when the first movie came out and remember ALL the kids on my block being very into it and spending hours paying with the action figures and wanting lightsabers - we used the wrapping paper tubes or sticks. And we were mostly girls.

More recently I have spent hours paying with my goddaughters playing with Star Wars legos with nary a man in sight (their dad is in Iraq).

I good friend of mine's 8 yo daughter is obbsessed with dinosaurs. Her younger brother is much more likely to play with her bitty baby dolls then she is.

I've known plenty of little girls who aren't into this stuff but plenty who are. How hard would it have been to say "kids" instead of "boys".

Very disappointed by this article. (Oh and I still find the Star Wars world engaging.)

Posted by: a1icia | April 3, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I kind of like the intergenerational aspects of long running franchises like Star Wars. I have a toddler and his dad, uncle, and grandpa have been HUGE Star Wars fans since it came out. If he likes it, I look forward to having them all bond over the vintage toys and repeated DVD viewings on family holidays. Its already begun for my husband, my son was Yoda complete with tiny telescopic light saber for Halloween this year. It was darling and nobody had to ask, "So what are you supposed to be?"

There is such a widening gap of experiences shared by each generation in this country that I'm willing to patronize the oldies but goodies so that we can all bond through play.

Sexist issues aside, Long Live Star Wars, Batman, Superman, Barbie, Easy Bake Ovens, Slinkies and all the other toys that have stood the test of time!

Posted by: Liana.Kang@yahoo.com | April 3, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Agree on the sexism (shocking but true), every kid in our neighborhood was acting out Star Wars scenes a couple summers ago. We realized back then my son was a little confused and call the light sabers "life savers", but he told us, well, I thought they saved lives. Makes sense. They still get their out light sabers and have their re-enactments from time to time, large dramas with all the neighbor kids and smaller battles and scenes in the house.

Our kids love the Harry Potter series, all the Lord of the Rings movies, the Good vs. Evil themes very much appeal to them. Not so much Star Trek, but my husband is the old school trekkie so sooner or later that will probably rub off.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 3, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

sexist? Um, OK. I was also 6 years old when the first movie was released. I can not recall any girls that were "obsessed" with it. In fact, I very clearly recall someone asking me if I was going to be "Princess Leia" for Halloween that year and though this person must be nuts.
To this day I do not know any females that are obsessed with the Lucas films or with Star Trek, and in fact, most females that I know would rather do almost anything else than sit through these programs. I do know a whole pile of men that seem obsessed. These guys will watch the movies over and over and over, know the lines, have action figures and whatnot for both of these.
So, I guess, in my experience, this really IS a mostly male phenomenon and talking about it that way doesn't make the discussion sexist.

Posted by: VaLGaL | April 3, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Um, since when did being a fan of Star Wars have anything to do with your genitalia?

I loved Star Wars because it was a fun alternate universe, with plenty of action and little of the other things I'd now cringe about my kids watching. It engaged my imagination, as it does theirs, and gave me access to a whole different world to play in. I'm not sure what the story is here.

Posted by: flyovercountry | April 3, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

the sexism cries are so ... well, sexist.

how many times has this blog referenced "mommy habits" that should be more broadly applied to include Dads as well? Lighten up and get over it.

I'm sure you'd be similarly annoyed if every man posting to this blog whined about every reference that didn't include a masculine equivalent.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | April 3, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

My oldest daughter got into Harry Potter. She read the books over and over to the point where there wasn't a question I could ask her that she couldn't answer. I liked the fact that the books encouraged her to read, but I was glad when she finally moved on to other literary material.

My other daughter is obsessed with vampires stemming from the "Twilight" series. She read me aloud about half the 1st book, which is about as much as any male could take before he craves a spoon on which to gag. Girl stuff most definitely!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 3, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Um, I didn't get the sexist thing at all. Bazelton and Stacey both have boys, so they expressed their experiences through that prism. A mother of girls or a female with an interest in Star Wars could add that point of view to the discussion without crying sexist.

Posted by: mlc2 | April 3, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

'I've known plenty of little girls who aren't into this stuff but plenty who are. How hard would it have been to say "kids" instead of "boys".'

Ding, ding, ding!

I think that the frontier theme is appealing to people of all ages, and bridges genders. In traditional frontier movies, we can actually look at that place and see that we conquered it with a big shiny mall. 30 years ago, people believed that the technology for something like a Landspeeder wasn't too far off. It's still appealing today because it's still not reality.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 3, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I was 16 when the first Star Wars came out back in 1977, and I still remember the thrill that went though the audience when the music began and the story lines started to roll. It was magical. EVERYBODY I knew loved Star Wars - it was pervasive. Everybody had a favorite character, a favorite moment, a favorite line. Teenaged guys used to love to do the Yoda-speak thing (which got old pretty fast, I have to say).

So....it's really not too hard to figure out why kids love this now - it's the magic. Just like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc. My 13 year old has been watching the first trilogy since he was about 2 years old. He was Luke Skywalker for Halloween at the age of 3. He used to debate whether it was better to have a blue light saber or a green one. He still loves the original 3 movies - the newer ones not so much.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 3, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Interesting, I get your point on sexism, but Stacey seems extremely naive or misinformed on who is enjoying the Star Wars World. Apparently there are plenty of girls that enjoy Star Wars, and it seems like it never occured to Stacey that this was even possible.

I know people write from their own experiences, but Stacey's seem very narrow at times. Just my opinion.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 3, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I'd be interested in comments from parents of young children who do not exhibit such obsessions. My child seems to subscribe to the "all things in moderation" philosophy. He recently watched Star Wars and liked it, but doesn't obsess over it and has never exhibited the same intense interest in other typical early grade school favorites (particular super heroes, dinosaurs, Toy Story, etc.). He likes all of those things, but has never gone through phases where he focuses so intensely on a particular one, like so many others of that age. I love that he has such varied interests, but I also get the sense that it leaves him on the outside of some of the social groups formed by his peers. Just wondering if others have this perspective.

Posted by: J100 | April 3, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

What is it about Star Wars??? Umm, the movies are AWESOME!!!
And, btw, it is not just little boys. Many girls love the story, too. When I was little, I WAS Princess Leia!
I love it that this story has endured.

Posted by: liledjen4901 | April 3, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

My apology to those of you who find this entry sexist in nature. And thanks mlc for noting that both Emily and I are seeing this through the prism of raising boys. I would certainly love to hear from parents of girls who are going through this same phase or any other obsession where the child, because of an interest, has become expert on it.

I will say, though, that I've spent a fair amount of time at my son's elementary school for the past two years. While there certainly are some girls who are interested in Star Wars or dinosaurs, etc., in general, it's a group of boys who are incessantly talking about and playing Star Wars at recess and wearing Star Wars shirts and hats. The girls are chatting about Hannah Montana or HSM and doing somewhat more stereotypically girl things. My older son, by the way, is friends with a lot of girls. And interestingly, he rarely talks Star Wars with them -- not because he doesn't love it, but that's not part of his world with any of those girls.

Is it sexist for us to admit that? Maybe yes, maybe no. But that's an issue we've discussed before -- whether kids' interests are nature or nuture or a combination of both.

Posted by: StaceyGarfinkle | April 3, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

um, yeah, this was sexist. Let's see... little boys are into Star Wars and dinosaurs. Litlle girls are into Disney Princesses. I grew up when star wars was new, and it was just as popular with girls as with boys. And I know plenty of grown women (myself included) who are big sci-fi geeks.

I like the idea of little kids wanting to be an "expert" on something, though. That has held true for our daughter... when she was about 3, she became obsessed with the globe in her room, and every night we had to talk about the names of all the different countries (although, for some reason, she was totally convinced that we lived in Japan, and I was unable to convinced her otherwise). From that, she started wanting to know the names of all the composers of the music we listen to (I think that's from watching Little Einsteins), and now she wants to know what every world is in Spanish.

Posted by: floof | April 3, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

J100, My youngest is not obsessed with anything, but seems to enjoy mostly what his older sister does. He really liked Scooby Doo for awhile, got some books and movies, but never overboard as in had to have t-shirts, PJs, action figures to carry all the time. I don't think it is uncommon for kids to have varied interests and I tend to think it is a product of parents that don't push any particular toy, etc. I guess some kids develop these obsessions naturally, but they are fed by the parents to some extent.

Seems like everything is peaks and valleys for us, and the kids tend to go back to things they like periodically. Case in point is that the light saber wars that happen every couple weeks or months.

My older daughter was kind of obsessed with Sponge Bob, thankfully that has passed.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 3, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

If there ever were a day for Jezebel to weigh in on how trivial, inane or dumb the daily topic is, this is the day!

Posted by: anonymous_one | April 3, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

My five year old loves Star Wars, Hannah Montana, the Naked Brothers, i-Carli, Phineus and Ferb and the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. He's a boy. A boy clearly attuned to pop culture! When they are little, I don't hink gonads drive them as much as always having something they can discuss easily with a friend--and still have other gender friends at that age, thank goodness!

Posted by: captiolhillmom | April 3, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

My 17 year old daughter used to love all (animated) things Disney - Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Belle, Aladin, Ariel, etc. She watched the movies over and over or played the music on the stereo. I remember her eating breakfast in her high chair grooving to the music from The Little Mermaid. Now that she's getting ready to go to college, I get all verkelmpt when I hear some of those tunes.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 3, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Talk about sci-fi - cheeky we are on the same page again. J100 - neither of my kids are "obsessed" with anything. My son enjoyed the original Star Wars but hasn't asked to see any of the others and is annoyed by the boys who play star wars endlessly. He's interested in a lot of different things. I guess the closest thing he has to an obsession now is he is really enjoying the Pink Panther movies, esp. the originals. The closest thing my daughter has is an affinity for coloring, but I haven't let her do much Hannah or HS Musical. I think its perfectly normal to be on the other side of the distribution. He's probably conversant in Star Wars and he breadth of interests will likely serve him well socially as he gets older.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 3, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

If you haven't read the Slate article, you should. There's a link to a you-tube of a 3-year-old girl explaining star wars in about a minute and a half. It's highly amusing.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 3, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I have both a son and a daughter, and while they've both enjoyed Star Wars, my son, who is 3 years older, was definitely more enthusiastic. He likes rough and tumble play and building things, and over the years we've had the Star Wars light saber and the Lego toys. My daughter will only play with these things if they involve playing with someone else- never alone.

I try to make an effort for my kids to enjoy books and movies without having to 'buy in' to the accompanying products that gather dust not long after they are purchased. My son has gone through phases of Star Wars, Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh and Bakugan that seemed more about racing to 'possess' the stuff, rather than imagining and enjoying the fantasy. Trading cards and little plastic figures can be ridiculously expensive, so I've tried to set limits on these things. So much of it winds up collecting dust.

I guess my thoughts are that kids are going to be engaged by whatever they're putting out there- even if it is fluff like High School Musical or Camp Rock, or Pokemon. With classic and enduring franchises like Star Wars, and the Wizard of Oz, it has been nice share the magic with my kids.

Star Wars endures because it continues to make $$, but it doesn't seem to matter much whether they're pretending to engage in the rough and tumble swashbuckling with light sabers or pirate swords.

BTW- has anyone seen the trailer on the web for the live action movie based on "Where the Wild Things Are?" It is directed by Spike Jonze, which gives me hope that he will treat it with whimsy and care, and not slime it like the Willy Wonka movie or the dreadful 'Cat in the Hat' film. Nothing kills the magic of a classic franchise like a badly executed film, although the Star Wars franchise seems immune to that.

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | April 3, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I'm about as feminist as they come, but I gotta say, I'm not seeing the sexism. If Stacey is seeing way more little boys obsess about Star Wars than little girls, why is it sexist to note that? She's not saying girls don't, can't, or shouldn't -- just that, by and large, they're not. Now, that bothers me. But not the fact that she noticed it, the fact that it exists (I was a Star Wars geek myself, and was definitely one of few girls, which was a little weird). It raises the question of whether kids just are that way, or whether we're pushing them towards those differences with the whole marketing "powerful" action toys to boys and cutesy "safe" toys to girls, etc. But if you aren't even allowed to say that you see these disparities without being labeled sexist, how can you ever hope to understand where the differences come from and what (if anything) we should do to address them?

The fact is, I see the same thing in my own kids. We've never inundated my girl with dolls or "girl" toys, she loves math, and she is just as rough-and-tumble as any of the boys at her school. And yet she has recently become fixated on Littlest Pet Shop toys -- because that's what all the other girls at school are focused on. On the flip side, my boy adores Batman, Spiderman, Ben10, any other action/superhero-type thing. He's only 3, but already knows waaaaay more about superheroes. She's just not interested.

With my kids, I think they're both looking for ways to feel powerful and in control. My daughter does that by assuming the mommy/caretaker role; I think she sees me as her strongest role model, so for her, stepping into my shoes and being the "boss" of the family is the most powerful role she can imagine. My boy, on the other hand, can pretty much take or leave real people, so the super-reality of having superpowers -- not to mention better toys than everyone else :-) -- is about the coolest thing he can imagine. Or from another angle, my extreme extrovert girl is all about other people, so being the "boss" of the relationships is what matters to her; on the other hand, my introvert boy is more about toys and gadgets and doing stuff himself, so superpowers and supertoys that let him go do cool stuff is more appealing.

Posted by: laura33 | April 3, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

How much of the obsession is encouraged by parents? If your kid is into dinosaurs, or the globe, or whatever, parents are happy to go the the library and get books, and spend time on the internet researching, etc. This is an academic pursuit and your toddler is clearly interested and bright.

When it comes to the more commercial obsessions, I think it really depends on the parenting style. If you don't buy the movies, t-shirts, toys, etc., your kid doesn't have it. So whether it's Hello Kitty, the latest Disney movie, or anything else, it really depends on if parents allow the child to watch the DVD every day after school, buys the bed sheets, the toys, etc. If your kid is into Thomas, and you encourage him/her to learn about trains in general, you get a win-win.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: JHBVA | April 3, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Laura, Problem is Stacey didn't say boys are way more interested in Star Wars than girls, she didn't even mention girls in the equation. As I clarified, it may be more narrow mindedness than anything, but read it again and see if you read the direct link to boys and Star Wars.

The nature vs. nurture debate is completely relevant and as I wrote, I am not a "pusher" (for lack of a better term) when it comes to interests. Our kids seem to like it all but are not huge TV watchers but get enough to get along. I remember when HSM2 was on TV maybe 2 summers ago they came in from outside all crazy eyed about how they HAD to watch it on TV that night, and I was surprised since I had never even heard HSM mentioned before. Well, they watched it and got the song CD for Xmas, so they know the songs and all that but I am happy to say it never went any further. They didn't even care about HSM3.

Has anyone's kids read the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series? Highly recommended, I read them after the kids did and literally laughed out loud throughout.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 3, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think it's amusing when parents of young kids only want to encourage "intellectual pursuits" versus the stuff that's just good fun or fantasy. It's really okay to be a fan of pop culture - it won't keep them out of Harvard or anything.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 3, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I agree with JHBVA. While surely interests of kids is based on their personality, how a parent encourages interests is a pretty big factor too.

What has been nagging at me as a parent is when it's appropriate to allow a kid see violence. I've always loved Star Wars, but I hesitate to show my kids-- especially my almost three year old-- programs where people use guns or other weapons to hurt or kill people. I don't want to keep them away from pop culture and hurt them socially, but I also don't want them to think it is normal to kill a "bad" guy to resolve problems. Until I figure it out, we'll stick with things like Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service- the stories are about adventure, scary things not actually being what you expected, etc.

Posted by: gdc33 | April 3, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

One thing about "Star Wars" is that it's clearly fantasy, so the battle scenes are a bit more abstract. I'd rather have my kids watch that than an old Three Stooges movie. (I always thought that Moe was a sadistic bully and I'm cringing at the latest news that they actually want to make a new version of that movie- and don't get me started on how they only seemed to appeal to boys.)

At any rate, the fantasy element seems to allow kids to engage in battle play in a safer, more controlled way. My kids seem to enjoy watching conflict that is sometimes scary and dramatic...but in the end all things are resolved. Look at the popularity of the Goosebumps series.

My 10 year old son loved the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' series. His latest pursuit is, of all things, a series of books about warriors who are feral cats. (by a group of writers who publish under the pen name of Erin Hunter). Who knew?

By the way, when we watched the Star Wars movies together, my son was interested in the battle scenes, while my daughter was more intrigued by the relationships between the characters, especially when they were girls like herself.

Posted by: HuckleberryFriend | April 3, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"Problem is Stacey didn't say boys are way more interested in Star Wars than girls, she didn't even mention girls in the equation."

Does she have to? This was a whimsical article about the obsession of boys with Star Wars not a dissection of the interests of children and how that breaks along gender lines.

P.S. My nephews love Star Wars and my 2 year-old loves "Dora the Explorer". I don't think there is anything wrong with either.

Posted by: Dadat39 | April 3, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I was so Star Wars obsessed when the original came out. I was a senior in high school, and spent my post-graduation summer seeing the movie over and over. Not a lot of other girls were doing that, but a few of us just loved it when Princess Leia grabbed a gun and shot back at the guards, and then came up with an escape route, when Luke and Han broke her out of her prison cell. It was so empowering to proto-feminist high school girls to at long last see a capable woman who acted instead of waiting helplessly to be rescued by the hero.

One thing that I think has made it endure is that George Lucas was well grounded in mythological hero tales, a la Joseph Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces". My sons love Star Wars (all of the movies), but also love a lot of other hero-myth-cycles.

One possible explanation for the differences between boy-interest and girl-interest that are being observed and described here - yes, biologically-based, so hopefully my feminist credentials won't be too agressively attacked for this - is that need of children to feel powerful and in control. Girls get to grow up and make babies - how much more powerful and in control can you be than if you can create a whole other human being? Boys don't have that, so they go looking for other ways to feel powerful and in control - like being the hero who stops the bad guys.

Posted by: SueMc | April 3, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

GroovisMaximus61 -
To me, it's not a matter of intellectual pursuits vs. pop culture. It's an issue of gross consumerism vs. creativity and thought.

I'm expecting a little girl, any day now. And I HATE Barbie, although I love the thought behind her. I didn't play with dolls much as a child, and have never owned a Barbie. Objectively, I love the idea of a world where children are actively engaged in creative play - whether Barbie has a new job every day, or is building her house, or whatever. But the gross commercialism that surrounds Barbie makes me hate her. It's another area where a child (obviously, mostly girls) can easily be obsessed. And I will have to decide how to respond if my child receives them as gifts, or asks for them after playing with them at friends' homes. But again - love that they get kids to think and play creatively, and hope I find other ways to encourage that in my daughter, without giving in and living in Barbie-land.

Posted by: JHBVA | April 3, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Dadat39: "Problem is Stacey didn't say boys are way more interested in Star Wars than girls, she didn't even mention girls in the equation."

Does she have to?"

She doesn't have to do anything. It turned into a discussion of interests and gender lines as a result of several posts. It wasn't just me that has this CRAZY notion that some girls like Star Wars too. Stacey piped in and the discussion continued, nothing strange here at all.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 3, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit to being a bit of a Star Wars fan myself. I was excited about Episode One as anyone else, and as let down by the prequels as you'd expect. My son, however, never really took to the franchise. I always tried to get him to watch the movies with me, but he preferred Star Trek (for some crazy reason). He's super excited about JJ Abrams reboot, so maybe I'll take him to see that. Still, wish he could share in a bit of the obsession with me.

Posted by: KatLuvsShoes | April 3, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Sexist? For my son's in-school hand out birthday treat the children were able to choose between star wars folders and pencils or ice cream folders and pencils (the school does not allow food treats). Every boy picked stars wars. One girl did. Nearly every 2nd grade boy is star wars crazy. Can't think of a girl who is - including mine and she's been exposed to every toy, movie and marketing gimick that the boy has - and she's not a "girly girl."

Posted by: mom221 | April 3, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

to JHBVA --

Congrats on having a new little girl - they're really fun to have around. Now - take a deep breath and stop worrying about silly stuff like Barbie. Undoubtedly, your daughter will some day be in contact with Barbie. No biggie. Barbie will probably have no clothes on, the hair will be a rats nest and she'll have magic marker on her. You will be less worried about the Barbie than you will about the fact that the Barbie shoes (or other stuff) constantly ends up in the vacuum - or that Barbie keeps going for a swim in the toilet and you have to fish her out. Creative play can take many forms......

My advice would be to not draw any lines in the sand - go with the flow and have a blast.


Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 3, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

JHBVA - I just thought of one more thing....

Even little tiny kids have preferences and things that they love and you hate (I'm remembering Smurfs and Teletubbies). But even small kids deserve some respect. Open-mindedness and respect for others are qualities that parents definitely teach their kids starting in the early years.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 3, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

My SD seems to have no obsessions of note except with being a princess. She will ask questions like... is that for princesses? when we give her some clothes to put on. Lucky for us... she has no princess personality tendencies - just a preference for wearing girly clothes/colours that princesses would wear.

I had to quietly chuckle to myself this last weekend when I was informed by my SS that Spiderman is so last year. He no longer likes Spiderman. Ben10 is apparently where it is at right now and he proudly showed me his Ben10 shoes. He currently draws lots of pictures of aliens, Pokemon and dinosaurs. His dinosaur obsession has lasted for 1.5 years so far.

I don't remember this as a child to be honest. Maybe I sided with the children that didn't have any particular obsessive interests although I was terribly into horses.

Posted by: Billie_R | April 6, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for this discussion today. Very timely in our household, as our 7 year old son is in the full throes of a Star Wars obsession! We get hacked to bits by homemade light sabers on a daily basis around here :)

The posters who pointed out that kids feel powerful & in control when they play Star Wars (etc.) are on to something. He'd seen the movies about a year ago & liked them well enough, but the full-on obsession hit when we had a new baby this year. Connection? Hmmm.... Thanks for helping me to connect the dots!

Posted by: vgrl | April 6, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"Ok, I'm about as feminist as they come, but I gotta say, I'm not seeing the sexism."

Thank you for bringing some logic and reason to the topic. I was born in April of '77, and my mother took me to see the movie two months later. I was literally raised on the stuff. To this day, I have an entire room devoted mostly to STAR WARS collectibles, and I interact with other fans from all over the world. Are there female fans? Absolutely, and some very devoted ones at that. For every female fan, though, there are hundreds of male fans. It was the same way when I was a kid, too. There's nothing sexist about saying STAR WARS fascinates boys, because it does. If you said it fascinates girls, that statement wouldn't be quite as accurate.

My niece loves Batman, my personal favorite among fictional characters. I encourage it at every opportunity, buying her action figures and toy weapons. She has a blast with it. If I said, "Little girls are fascinated with Batman," though, anyone of even modest intelligence would look at me like I was crazy. My girlfriend likes STAR WARS and Batman, and she loves Harry Potter. My ex-wife is a diehard Spider-Man fan. Most women my age, though, have no interest in that sort of thing. If I said, "Women love science fiction and comic books," as some kind of general statement, it would be patently absurd.

It's easy to make something out of nothing if you LOOK for a reason to be offended.

Posted by: CompulsiveCollector | April 7, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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