glittering malevolence

Emily Bazelon over at Slate wrote an article called “May the Force Be With Them“, about what she (or at least, Slate’s headline editor) calls the “dark side” of allowing her young sons to watch Star Wars (specifically A New Hope).  She sites a conversation with a child psychologist about the hazards of exposing young children to images of violence, and expresses some concern over her children’s inclination toward faux-lightsaber dueling, but her primary anxiety seems to be based around the boys’ obsession with the plot, characters, and details of the film.  She says of her youngest son:

He was obsessed. He talked about the movie to any relative, friend, or baby sitter who would listen and plenty of shopkeepers who wouldn’t. He relived the trash-compactor scene. He worried over Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi sternness and Darth Vader’s glittering malevolence. He sniffed out plot twists in the rest of the endless six-movie saga (who knows how) and tried desperately to work out why Darth Vader could be Anakin Skywalker and Luke’s father—and could also cut off Luke’s hand . . .  He was feverish. He was short-circuiting. Thanks to our two hours of stupid indulgence, Paul and I concluded, his neurons were melting.

She spends most of the article describing her son’s fascination, how he talks about Star Wars endlessly with siblings and friends and anyone who will listen, and she describes an attention to detail which confuses her, but which seems staggeringly run-of-the-mill to me…  It took me a couple minutes to figure out exactly what the problem was that Bazelon was trying to describe–then I got it.

She’s afraid she’s raising nerds.

That may not be fair–she seems more baffled than fearful.  Though she warmly mentions Harry Potter and Tolkien, it doesn’t sound like she’s actually watched Star Wars before (“The boys had to explain to me who Palpatine is (a Vader ally)”), and she just may not know what’s it’s like to actually be a nerd, to be engaged with fantasy and to bond by sharing that engagement with others.

Emily–it’s okay.  My entire generation is like this.  We’re nerds.  Your kids are nerds.  It’s not pathological.  Relax.


(Geez, where do I file this?  Guess it’s time to add a SciFi category.)


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