We are closing in on the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (October 3) which had a six-season run from 2008 through 2014. With the recent announcement at San Diego Comic-Con that the hit series will be returning to TV, it’s the perfect time to discuss why this is a very good thing for parents…and their kids, of course.
Star Wars is one of the most beloved franchises in entertainment history and arguably at the top with the level of support and magnificent cosplay you’ll find at any convention. Not only does this franchise include the original trio of films, with Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker at the forefront, but Star Wars has crossed over to different mediums at top speed, including novels, comic books, and television. The animated series, The Clone Wars, doesn’t just represent a different model in a popular franchise, it possibly represents the easiest format for reaching children of all ages.
The Clone Wars: Season 1 is a fantastic start for parents to let their younger kids watch and become fully enamored with a wide array of unique characters. In animation, the abilities from the Jedi or a nemesis seem much greater, furthering a child’s imagination as to what is or isn’t capable in a world surrounded by “The Force.” Your children can be introduced to unseen waves of power, swan-like movements with a lightsaber, teamwork, and, sometimes, a confusing look at who should or shouldn’t follow the rules.
Season 1 dives into the main premise, a war between the Republic and the Separatists, while exploring the depth of characters, particularly Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan (also known as apprentice) Ahsoka Tano. If your children love cartoons, then they will enjoy seeing these main characters struggle to find a grip as two sides look to dominate the other. Granted, your kids will get to see Anakin and Ahsoka twirl, flip, and strike down many a droid, but this series will also provide humorous moments that will be endearing at any age – “Roger, roger.” Even if “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” (A New Hope), droids present a fantastic way for your kids to want to return to the series again and again. Yes, seeing the droids get destroyed in a million different ways is fascinating, as it highlights the skills of the Jedi; however, the individual thinking of droids, despite their collective “roger, roger” response, provides an understanding right away that these droids have minds of their own.
Along with various droid models, kids will learn various strategies to defeat different kinds of droids. For example, if a Droideka - a roller droid with shields - is encountered, perhaps it's best to find something heavy to crash onto it. This definitely will encourage children to think outside the box when having their own play time and use their imagination to vanquish their enemies. Along with various characters, creatures, and vessels to take in, the series, as a whole, is accessible to everyone. It’s entertaining to watch as a parent, and if there are any questions that come up during the series, parents can be right there to try and answer them.
One question that might arise from kids is “Why does it seem like Ahsoka has to follow the rules, but Anakin doesn’t?” During Season 1, there are several instances when Anakin takes it upon himself to bend the rules but later criticizes Ahsoka for doing something similar. There are varying ways to assess this vantage point and possibly something your kids might think of.
First, do characters do things to protect each other, even if it means bending or breaking the rules? Throughout the season, you will see amazing abilities from both Anakin and Ahsoka, but having an organized level of command sometimes keeps these characters in check. They believe in their skills and are always ready to go, go, go. Their desire to do good, be it winning space battles or saving civilians from capture or invasion, does not deter their abilities in the face of difficult choices. Anakin and Ahsoka must both learn to trust others, despite having a sense of going alone or disobeying orders.
It’s clear that Anakin does not want to follow the rules, especially if it means protecting those he cares for. This will always be a talking point for anyone as they get older. How far do we go to keep those we love safe? With regards to this animated series, there is a defined command structure that can help parents to illustrate similar situations in life. When you’re at school, you listen to your teacher. When you’re playing a sport, you follow the rules or listen to the referee. When you want to learn and get better, try and listen to reason when spoken to by elders.
Next, Anakin is one who always believes he’s right, regardless of who is giving him direction – superiors included. This mindset might lead him to reprimand his Padawan – not necessarily because she disobeyed someone else’s order, but because she questioned his. It’s fair to point out to your kids that sometimes people will not send a clear message, because they do something different from what they say. The old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” absolutely plays a part during Season 1 of The Clone Wars. Anakin’s own actions reflect similar behaviors by Ahsoka throughout the season, making it understandable if kids find it confusing to see Anakin ignore his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and yet, he expects his Padawan to listen and follow his guidance.
One final point that youth might take away from this discrepancy between Anakin and Ahsoka’s relationship revolves around age and gender. Kids might wonder, “Does Anakin get away with doing the same things because he’s older?” Perhaps you might hear, “Does Ahsoka get reprimanded because she’s younger or female?” I am not indicating that these are true factors in the storytelling of The Clone Wars, but kids are creative, curious, and always want to ask questions to better understand their surroundings. This series might be an excellent way for parents to discuss unfair treatment regarding hypocritical behavior, abuse of power, or addressing the fact that there are those in the world that view gender as something less than equal.
Something parents can highlight by leaps and bounds in The Clone Wars is the powerful message that comes with witnessing Ahsoka and Senator Padmé Amidala. These two are intelligent, tough, and extremely determined in the face of adversity. These two characters are wonderful role models, making it an even easier choice to let their kids watch this show, as they both are willing to sacrifice their own lives to achieve the mission’s objective. Granted, you will see Anakin do this, as well, so it’s okay to point this out to your kids, but we all know that he turns into Darth Vader, so he doesn’t get a pass. (sarcasm)
All parents should determine what is acceptable for their kids in watching a PG show. Animation does seem to make violence and death easier to view for younger audiences, but please consider those factors if you’re uncertain if your children are old enough to watch.
The Clone Wars, Season 1
Rating: TV-PG, via TV Parental Guidelines: “Parental Guidance Suggested – This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program may contain one or more of the following: some suggestive dialogue (D), infrequent coarse language (L), some sexual situations (S), or moderate violence (V).”
Have you seen the first season or all of The Clone Wars? What other themes do you think are worth mentioning to other parents interested in seeing this hit series? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or head over to Facebook and Twitter to share this post and start a geeky parent discussion with your friends. If you like this post and want to see more coverage of The Clone Wars, make sure to Facebook like and rate this page below.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.