With a five-year-old around, Christmas has become a two-month-long extravaganza of baking and wrapping and decorating and watching that classic Rudolph claymation movie over and over. Which, by the way, the Disco Mermaids and their spouses sat down to watch together and gave a running commentary while my boy shushed us. (Don’t even get us started on Santa’s lack of political correctness in that show!)
One of my son’s favorite gifts this year was a Star Wars themed gift from my parents that included the original 1977 movie, along with an action figure for each main character. My son had never seen the movie, but somehow pop culture had seeped into his young brain and he made it very clear that “there’s a bad guy named Darth Vader and he’s super cool.”
So Christmas night, we all sat down as a family and watched Star Wars. My boy was mesmerized…and only a little scared. (But I was scared too when they were stuck in that nasty trash compactor that was closing in on them while a huge cyborg snake attacked. Yikes!)
While my boy watched the movie, my husband and I analyzed Star Wars and tried to figure out why a movie made in the late 70s on a relatively small budget turned into such a massive empire (for lack of a better word) and earned billions and billions of dollars. We decided it was because of three things:
- For the time, the special effects were awesome. Lasers, man! There were lasers!!
- There was a villain. A very bad villain. He was scary looking and made weird throaty sounds. Good stuff.
- It was serious, but more importantly…very funny. I loved how there was the serious theme of “the force” and how there’s an energy in the universe which connects us all. (By the way, when I was a kid, I thought “the force” meant brightly colored lasers that protected you like a bubble. Seriously.) But then there was Han Solo who gave us comic relief (and he wasn’t so bad to look at either). I think it was the combination of serious and funny that made the movie accessible to both adults and kids.
So that tells me, in my next book, I need some cool technology, a super cool villain, a serious storyline, and lots of humor. See!? Maybe all this holiday activity was helping my writing after all.