My father passed away a few weeks before the release of the first Star Trek reboot. I said I would get a ticket for him anyway (My friend, Wesley Williams, actually paid for it.) and leave the seat open for him. At the opening sequence, when George Samuel Kirk, Sr., sacrificed his life, so that his wife and child and the rest of 800 lives could live…
I’m crying now as I write this.
Movies resonate with me, and I see I am not alone. I love that our world is filling with so much art that we can look at it, all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly truth (Yes, that movie title pun was intentional.), and learn from it. We are spoiled for choice in this age of geek fandoms, and I am loving it. We can talk about what we like, what we love, and even what we hate. Either way, films are affecting the masses in a powerful way.
A lot of these stories use similar formulas to the extent that my wife can’t help but point out the number of times she hears the words, “My father,” in an episode of Arrow.
These tales touch our hearts so much, because it’s about growing up, and we have to make the decision to do it every day, even if we keep our hearts young and full of wonder in the process. I talk a lot about Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth (sometimes called The Hero’s Journey), because director’s are, and have been, using this with the fantasies that we love. It’s all about coming of age and making the hard choices that have to be made. We all have our comfort zones we start in, and then we have the decision to either go out on our own or refuse. We inevitably have to go at some point, otherwise we can’t really “adult.” Our adventure has to begin. This is why we identify so strongly with conflicted heroes fighting larger than life problems.
That’s how we feel about our own lives.
We need that inspiration sometimes to keep fighting the good fight, go into the belly of the beast, finally reach an atonement with the father, and eventually let one old part of our lives die, so that another can be born. We do this whether we’re finding true love, getting a new job, losing an old job, raising a child, or just moving out of the house for the first time.
So, I watch Clark Kent’s dads sacrifice themselves for their son, and I cry (Especially, when my son said, “He reminds me of your dad.”). I watch Wonder Woman march across an impossible battlefield, as a symbol of strength that my daughter can look up to, and the overcoming of the ordeal of that part in some of our darkest history, and I cry. I watch a group of people from different races fight together in space, and learn the true meaning of family in each other, and that even though dads can screw up, they can also redeem themselves like Mary Poppins, ya’ll, and I cry. I watch an older Luke Skywalker struggle with being in a new role after making mistakes, as master, as a teacher, as a father, and I watch him fight to not only redeem himself, but to save others, and I cry.
I’m a son and a father, after all. I struggle with both roles.
Movies are more than just something that flashes in front of us for amusement. They inspire us to live life. They are a work created by people inspired by other art, and their own real life experiences, and I believe that grabs hold of people. It changes them for the good, at least for the most part. Despite the copycat murderers mimicking something they watched, many find the strength to not take their own lives, to strive to make the world a better place…to DO better.
I watch that 2009 reboot of Star Trek every year on January 12th, my father’s birthday.
“Your father was captain of a star ship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours. I dare you to do better.”
That task is unbelievably daunting, but…
I will, Dad. I will.
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