Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Swing and Sway

"I want Princess Leia sway," says my five-year-old son. Because his seven-year-old sister had asked for that picture, too.

"Slave. Slave. Slaaaaay-vuh."

"What's a slave?"

So, see, my kids love it when I print coloring pages from teh intrawebs for them. Name cartoon-character-of-choice (and yes, I count Star Wars among that, even pre Cartoon Network Clone Wars series among that), and somewhere on the Web there's a coloring page for it. Even if it means you need to go to DeviantArt (gotta make sure it's the adult-material-screened search when they're looking over my shoulder) and find a pencil drawing. Characters from the Mario videogames are big, various superheroes, too. The past week, there's been an ever-increasing demand for Star Wars characters. And Princess Leia, slave, because you see, doesn't her hair look so pretty, when it's not in the Cinnabons on either side of her head? And her costume -- isn't that so much more interesting than that boring white robe?

Don't you want Princess Leia as the general, planning the attack on the Death Star? How about when she's leading the fight on Andor? Okay, yeah, she's doing it with a bunch of teddy bears rather than the kick-ass Wookie, but she's not the damsel waiting to be saved all the time. At the end, she's not Amidala, dying of a fucking broken heart, even if she's the Good Woman, Redeeming the Bad Boy.

"No, I want Princess Leia sway."

"Slave. Slave. Slaaay-vuh."

"What's a slave?"

It's hard for them to understand, hey, that's Carrie Fisher. Here's a picture of Carrie Fisher today. "She looks nice." She's an actress. "Princess Leia isn't real?" No, she's not real. "What are slaves?"

I don't have the words to explain this, why it matters that they want Princess Leia slave.

"Why would someone do that?"

Why it should matter to my daughter, who gravitates towards strong female characters in the stories we tell, the stories she reads.

"But she looks happy in some of the pictures people draw."

Why it should matter to my son, my five-year-old boy, who I want to be a good person. A good man.

"Did they have slaves here?" the girl asks. She knows, in a vague way, because they were taught, as best they could be, about Martin Luther King, Jr. About Abraham Lincoln.

"They shot Averaman Lincoln in the head," the boy pronounces gravely. He had it too, in his half-day kindergarten class.

They don't understand it, how someone could do that to someone else. Hurt them, take their children.

We print out pictures of Emperor Palpatine, R2D2, Anakin, Qui-Gon. And Princess Leia sway. We pronounce Jabba as not a good guy, and muse about how the rancor probably wasn't happy, maybe he just wanted to go home rather than be chained in a cave, waiting for Luke to come crash a portcullis on top of his noggin.

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