Raising Rebels: Too Young for Star Wars Rebels?

As a geek, and die-hard Star Wars fan, my dream when I became a father was, of course, to raise my kids right. At the same time, I have secretly dreamed my kids would grow up to love Star Wars as much as I do. Rocking my girls to sleep when they were newborns, I would hum the Star Wars theme, and still do when they have a bad dream, or have a hard time falling asleep. We’ve held little dance parties to the Imperial March, and at ages five and three, they can recognize most of the original characters by sight. Buying them Star Wars sticker books and coloring books, watching the Jedi Academy show at Disneyland, riding Star Tours, and reading them countless Star Wars pop-up books, learning to read books, and the Jeffery Brown books helped in that regard for sure.

In the last year or so, I’ve tried to show them Star Wars: Episode I, and The Clone Wars with mixed results. For the record, my girls are absolute sweethearts. (No father has ever said that about his girls right?) That said, when they get nervous about a particularly “scary” character, or the suspense in a show builds, whether it’s a cartoon or live action movie, they are quick to cringe, jump up onto the couch with us, and or vow never to watch that movie, or episode again. This has happened with everything from certain My Little Pony and Phineas and Ferb episodes, and sadly, both The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Episode I. The latter two, I can understand. Darth Maul in the eyes of a three year-old would be terrifying, and even to a five year-old, The Clone Wars has some fairly dark, and violent moments in the early episodes. I’ve had to give up on introducing them to the Star Wars Trilogies and The Clone Wars for now.

Dinner and Star Wars Rebels

Dinner and Star Wars Rebels

However, I refused to give up hope. When I had first heard that Star Wars Rebels was in the works, I got to work warming my girls up to the idea. The New Yoda Chronicles and the Star Wars Rebels books I picked up at San Diego Comic-Con over the summer have been an incredible help. The Rebels learning to read books, and Pablo Hidalgo’s book Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero, helped get them excited about the characters and the world of Lothal. We read chapter books to the girls each night as they fall asleep, and I’ve read them both Rise of the Rebels and Ezra’s Gamble. My family enjoys many of the Disney shows, and as we watch Dog With a Blog, Girl Meets World, or Phineas and Ferb, when Star Wars Rebels commercials run, they both yell: “Star Wars Rebels, Daddy! Don’t rewind it!” Of course they mean don’t fast forward it, but I love that they want to watch the commercials and shout: “Daddy, that’s Zeb!” or “Kanan!” as they watch.

It's Kanan!!

It’s Kanan!!

Last night, nearly a week after it had first aired, we finally sat down as a family to watch the premiere of Star Wars Rebels. Although they had seen the first few minutes, and loved it, I hadn’t had a chance to screen the rest of the episode ahead of time. I was afraid they would beg me to turn it off part-way through as they did with Episode I, and I would have give up on yet another Star Wars show until they’re older. There were a few moments where they got a little nervous, especially with Agent Kallus and the baby Wookie, but by the end of the episode, they were hooked. I was relieved, but more than anything I was proud of them. Even my wife, who isn’t the biggest fan of Star Wars, loved the show. For me, laughing, crying, and feeling the suspense with my girls, while watching something in Star Wars universe was literally a dream come true.

I listen to at least a dozen Star Wars, and Star Wars: The Old Republic podcasts every week, and in the most recent episode of Coffee with Kenobi they discussed the issue of violence in Star Wars Rebels. My kids are a few years younger than theirs, and I do have some concerns with the violence because my kids are so young. They watch Perry the Platypus sock Dr. Doofenshmirtz in the head repeatedly in every episode of Phineas and Ferb, but it’s a bit different watching stormtroopers blown to bits, or kicked hilariously, and more than a little disturbingly off a platform to fall to his death. Doofenshmirtz returns every week, but these stormtroopers will not. Granted, they are quickly replaced by more helmeted troopers, they don’t have names, and they don’t have major roles outside of blasting wildly as our heroes escape, but this doesn’t lessen the violence inflicted upon them. When The Inquisitor finally arrives on the scene, I wonder if my girls will not only be able to handle the violence, but will they ultimately refuse to watch episodes with him in it? I hope not.

I have concerns that my kids are below the recommended age to watch Rebels, and if the show gets even darker, and more violent, my fear is that this show will join the others in what I have dubbed the Hopefully Temporary Star Wars Graveyard. As far as the premiere is concerned, overall, it went over very well with my very young girls. My hope is that this is the right time for them to develop a love for what is very much their Star Wars, and that my dream of raising Star Wars fans becomes a reality sparked by rebellion.