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Parenting and Pop Culture (We Like It)

We’ve all heard it—the complaint that Hollywood doesn’t have an original idea left (go see Inside Out, it will change that tune) and that all they produce are sequels and remakes—everything old is new again and all that. That’s fair. There are plenty of sequels and a constant line of remakes, reboots, and movie mulligans to fuel the fire of said discontent.

However, I am here to argue that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, some of the best films ever made have been sequels, for example, The Empire Strikes Back (more on that later), six of the Harry Potter films, and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Remakes and reboots have had their own string of success as well, including The Thing, Scarface, and Star Trek, to name but a few. The lesson here is that it’s okay to build upon an existing idea, especially if you can offer something new and sometimes better.

But the real reason I like this cinematic stroll down memory lane is much more personal than box-office status or a new line of action figures and video games (although, to be clear, action figures and video games are pretty great, too). Rather, I like the conversations they create and the nostalgia they embrace. They are gateways to my childhood that invite my own boys in to discover common interests and strengthen the bonds of pop culture and our collective love of all things geekery.

In The Parents’ Phrase Book I tackle this very thing. In the section titled “Pop Culture II: What Comes Around Goes Around and the Benefits Thereof” I offer the following:

“We, like most generations, believe that we are living in the golden age of pop culture, and to an extent that is true. We currently have all that is new and wonderful, as well as those gems that have stood the test of time and remain firmly entrenched in polite society. For example, kids today are growing up with access to the Stooges, the Beatles, and The Avengers—and they have it all at their fingertips wherever they may go.

The only thing that can surpass today is tomorrow, but for the sake of this conversation let’s stay in the now. One of the best things about childhood, from the outside looking in, is that we, the parents, are able to share our passions with a captive audience and subsequently bend them to share our views on music, TV, movies, and literature. Granted, children might decide they like something else as they get older, and that is fine, but chances are that they will, at least for a while, relish the things that we cherish, and that, right there, is a fantastic feeling.

Not that they owe us anything.”

And I stand by that.

These are the jokes we all get, the quotes we all laugh at—for instance, showing my boys Inspector Gadget on Netflix has led to everything a go-go. Got chores to push in your home? Everything is “go go gadget dish dryer” and “go go gadget dog walker,” around these parts. It’s go go good and it may not make the kids do their chores any faster, but it cuts down drastically on the threats required, which is nice.

Inspector Gadget on Netflix

In regard to movies, the most current case of timelines twisting is Jurassic World, which we saw last night, and now the boys are thrilled to watch Jurassic Park (I haven’t mentioned the sequels) and there will be days that follow full of fun, a healthy does of fear, and all the imaginationasouras you can carry.

Perhaps the most obvious examples, however, are the Star Wars films, because Star Wars. I was in first grade when the original film came out and the entire series has shaped my life in a way no other pop culture influence ever could (with the possible exception of the Beatles). Star Wars, thanks to numerous spin-offs like The Clone Wars, and well, everything, has never ceased to be a part of our culture and the new upcoming films promise to expand that universe all the further. Seriously, what else could survive the test of time AND Jar Jar Binks?

The Clone Wars

And therein lies the beauty of the new and the ties to the past. My boys and I (and Tricia, too!) have shared the glories of my childhood through countless Star Wars viewings, and we will do it all again, but we have also experienced new franchise spins and stories together, something that promises to play forward throughout their own lives and will influence family traditions for generations to come.

The force will be with you, always.

We’re counting on it.

We all have our favorite movies and TV shows from our childhood that we share with our children—the passing of the pop culture torch. What are you favorites to watch with your family?

This post was written as part of our relationship with the Netflix #StreamTeam. Netflix has a lot of your childhood favorite available for streaming or rental, and the new versions to boot! All opinions are our own.

Whit Honea is the author of “The Parents’ Phrase Book” and co-founder of the philanthropic organization Dads 4 Change. He is the Social Media Director/Community Manager of the Dad 2.0 Summit. His writing can be found at Fandango, GeekDad, Disney, Today, Good Housekeeping, City Dads Group, Stand Magazine, The Washington Post and several other popular publications. He previously covered travel for Orbitz, CBS and AOL, and served as Editor of Family Travel for UpTake. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable, Whit has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is the 2015 winner of the Iris Award for Best Writing.

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