The Unexpected Joy of Joy

Chewbacca MomCandace Payne, a.k.a. Chewbacca Mom, enjoyed one of the best social media fandom explosions in recent memory. If you have no idea who or what I’m talking about, stop reading and go Google her RIGHT NOW.

Her Facebook LIVE post, made in her minivan shortly after she completed a mini shopping spree at Kohl’s and shortly before she had to go pick up the kids from school, started appearing all over my Facebook feed on Monday. Not one to ever go with the crowd, the more it appeared, the less it appealed to me. But finally, I couldn’t resist the lure and I clicked. And watched. And couldn’t help but giggle.

You see, Candace just seems like one of those all-around good people we’re lucky to meet in life. She reminded me right away of somebody I used to know and adore. He, too, had that infectious giggle and fun outlook on life. Like life is a whole heck of a lot LESS serious than most of us make it out to be. And hanging with somebody who helps us take ourselves less seriously? Yeah, that’s a good place to be.

Candace is also further proof that the giggle is an underrated attribute. Nobody ever mentions it as an attractive feature, but it really should be top of the list. My son has this kind of fantastic giggle. Ever since he was a baby, he’s been able to reduce us to joyful tears just by giggling. Even now, as he transforms to a part sullen teen/part capable human being, he still has the giggle — and the ability to wield it. I can’t tell you the number of car rides we’ve taken with the four of us in a fit of giggles started simply by him giggling at something silly.

As Candace explained on the James Corden Show, she only “filmed” herself on Facebook Live so that she had proof for her friends and family that the Chewbacca mask was hers, before the kids came home and stole it from her. She never intended for the video to go viral, and started freaking out when the video was watched 1,000 times. Before she went to bed, it was at 1 million views and she was hyperventilating. When she woke up, the counter said 20 million views and A Star Was Born.

The next couple of days saw a flurry of Candace Is Everywhere moments, as she appeared not just on the James Corden Show, but also in a bit with Corden and J.J. Abrams. There was a visit to Facebook headquarters and also a visit by Kohl’s representatives, who presented her with a boatload of stuff and Chewbacca masks for the whole family. She also received an invitation from Chewbacca himself — Peter Mayhew — to hang out with him during an upcoming visit to the Dallas area (where she lives).

Undoubtedly, it’s been a whirlwind week for Chewbacca Mom. And some cynics might say she doesn’t deserve the fame. But I would ask them: Who does? It’s so much more fun to see an ordinary person getting more than her 15 minutes, due to a video she posted of her having a complete moment of joy, then to have to bear one more moment of hearing anything having to do with most of the people who appear in my Facebook “Trending News” feed on any given day. And I’m not the only one who agrees.

More than 143 million people have watched Candace’s original video. And though I’ve trained myself NOT TO READ THE COMMENTS, I’ve taken a peek at the ones on her video and on Mark Zuckerberg’s photos of Candace at Facebook HQ. They were all positive. Regardless of gender, religion, age, race, etc. — everybody loves Candace. They recognize her as a “breath of fresh air” and a “ray of sunshine” with a “bubbly personality” who made them laugh and laugh and then laugh again.

There’s something so welcome, in this time of polarization and divisiveness, to just be able to witness the pure joy of somebody enjoying a simple pleasure. Here’s this lady, with a darn plastic Chewbacca mask that she probably got in the clearance rack of Kohl’s, and she’s having the time of her life with it.

Her joy brought all of us joy. And proved that people can unite behind something, regardless of personal belief. Joy as power — it was the lesson behind Disney’s Monsters, Inc., too. Joy can transcend fear and hate. We just have to let it.

©2016 Rachel L. MacAulay All Rights Reserved



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