The video that Candace Payne, a.k.a. “Chewbacca Mom” uploaded to facebook went viral within hours, racking up over 47,000,000 views (and counting.) Due to her sudden extraordinary popularity, this unpretentious, Texas homemaker got invited to be a guest on the Late Late Show with James Corden as well as Good Morning America with Robin Roberts.
If you haven‘t yet seen Ms. Payne in action you soon will. No doubt somebody’s already figured out how to make a buck out off this woman. Think product endorsements, TV commercials, or maybe an action figure of her own. No matter. She deserves it.
So, what’s it about “Chewbacca Mom” that prompted the millions of people around the country slouched over their smartphones and laptops to “like” her video and then “share” it with their friends?
Well, first of all, Ms. Payne is Everywoman; a middle class married woman with two children who, as she’s told interviewers, put her dreams on hold so she could stay at home and raise her kids. She gives a face to that woman whose family is tenaciously holding onto the American Dream.
Just as we Americans were beginning to despair of the seemingly endless, often rude, presidential campaign, we were given four minutes and five seconds of exhilarating delight.
We can all relate to this woman. She’s normal. A bit chubby. A couple of tattoos. Shops at Kohl’s. She could be our own wife, or sister or mother. In fact, there’s probably a lot of people out there who wish she were their mother.
She also knows herself and is comfortable with who she is. Sure, she’s trying to lose weight, but who isn’t? As she says in the video: “I’m trying to work out more…it’s not going well.” And referring to the item of clothing she returned as not fitting, she says, “No shame!” “It’s all love.” Who wouldn’t want someone like that raising them or lying next to them at bed at night.
What else is utterly appealing about the video is Ms. Paynes joyfulness. She, an avowed Star Wars mega-fan, sees the mask in the toy section while looking for something for her kids. Instead of getting it for them she buys the mask for herself. As she says in the video, “This is mine.” “Like when it’s said and done at the end of the day this is mine that I bought and I’m going to keep it for my own.”
You go girl. Aren’t all parents dying to do that? To buy something for themselves rather than for the kids or the family? As a parent it’s a challenge to remain self-differentiated while dealing with and prioritizing the needs of others. Here we have a woman delighting in this gift to herself. It’s almost as if she can’t quite believe that she did it. As she says, “I’m having an incredible day.” “It’s the simple joys.”
Finally: the laughter–the unbridled, unrestrained, infectious laughter! When I was viewing the video it didn’t take me long to start laughing along with her. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help myself. And the more I laughed the better I felt. It was unsophisticated and downright silly, but it provided a few minutes of much needed relief from the cares of the world. We were both “happy Chewbaccas.”
At the end of Ms. Payne’s interview on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asked her what was the best part of her internet fame, to which she replied: “Being able to share joy with people.”
Thank you, Candace Payne, Chewbacca Mom, for sharing joy with the laughter-starved people of this world.