Institutionalism has been on my mind a lot lately. It has always bees something I was concerned with—it’s a huge part of culture building and there is need for some of it to keep an orderly society organized and effective. But all too often it is a destructive device that robs individuality from the human race which limits the output of potential available to mankind. Obviously the Comey situation with the current FBI is the most clear-cut case of institutional failure at so many levels and that is exactly what was on my mind as I went to Target as a 50-year-old man and bought the new Han Solo Landspeeder toy from Hasbro that I have been looking forward to being released. As I write often my favorite Star Wars character is Han Solo and I continue to think that the entire franchise under Disney ownership will depend on the quality of this new Solo: A Star Wars Story movie coming up on May 25th. For the movie to work, it has to tell the story of a young man who is so rebellious against institutionalism that he drives that inner need for the audience to yearn for individual freedom. It’s a tough game for Disney because they are an institution all on their own, and it has been a real challenge for the filmmakers to capture that proper “Han Solo” spirit produced by such an institutionalized production company. But they have worked hard at it and I think the selection of Ron Howard to be the final director was crucial to making this upcoming film positioned to be the best product possible. To get Han Solo right, the filmmakers must understand that he is a person fighting the mundane clutches of institutionalism which is the key to understanding what makes Star Wars different from other science fiction, and additionally makes it one of the most valuable elements for shaping modern society. It’s a very delicate balance and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that toy car so I could get up and close to it to get some questions answered.
Much to my delight it exceeded my expectations. Most young men—not girls—but boys, desire to obtain a car, customize it to some degree to represent their personalities and to apply that effort to the world so that they might come out on top. Girls typically think of wedding dresses, getting invited to prom and play with toys that lead them to domestic lives as young married women. No matter how much we tamper with that basic human yearning, those fundamental differences between boys and girls are obvious. Boys have that pressure to rebel from what they’ve known so that they can launch themselves into a position to acquire a wife, build a family, and live life on their own terms for that family—and a car is that first big step. So in a movie that deals with a younger version of Han Solo, a guy who has to acquire all the things that led him to a marriage to Princess Leia, The Millennium Falcon, his DL-44 gun, his years of experience at getting out of dangerous situations, what would his very first car look like? Getting that right would go a long way to telling me that these modern filmmakers understood the character of Han Solo well enough to not screw up the movie.
Ever since I saw the footage from the filming of the Solo movie I have been curious about this car. It’s square in design and looks pretty junkie for what you might expect from Han Solo. But then the Millennium Falcon was pretty beat up by the time the original movies were made—so this is a theme for Han Solo. He is a character not limited to the designs of the original manufacturer of his vehicles, some institutional engineer who works for a big company and rigidly gets all their drawings approved for production. Han Solo as a young man would acquire a speeder like this vehicle probably used because that’s all he could afford and he’d make it into something of his own design—to imprint his character on it. He would then use that vehicle to make a name for himself out in the world. This is very important to young men—really important. So getting Han Solo’s car right in a design tells me that they would also get it right in the movie and that this thing was going to be good.
When I was a young guy, 16 to 20 years of age I raced everyone everywhere. I seldom ever drove at speeds less than 100 MPH and I was in trouble with the police most of the time. I think it is safe to say that I was the fastest driver in the city of Cincinnati during that time frame who lived to talk about it. I know a lot of people I knew back then who died in car wrecks or ended up in jail for the rest of their lives so I can understand the background of a young Han Solo who was addicted to speed and competition. Young men must have some way to prove themselves because only the best have access to the best females. The way we all work biologically is that the most attractive females usually like the guys who are the most daring and ambitious acquiring the most wealth. Of course, the reason is so that a young female can build a family using the guy to give her children and financial resources. Having young men run around racing each other for the opportunity to make a lot of money so they can have access to the best females is a very primal sentiment. It’s not the way political progressives want things to be, and Disney has become a very progressive company so that makes the stakes of this Solo Star Wars film very high. Progressives would like to erase masculinity from the face of the earth yet Han Solo is a very masculine figure which makes him very popular among young males looking to make their mark in the world. I’ve been very skeptical especially the way The Last Jedi embraced so many progressive values. I didn’t think it hurt the value of Star Wars culturally, but it was noticeable. The same kind of anti-male sentiment won’t work in a movie starring Han Solo. I am happy to say from what I have seen by reading the latest Han Solo book Last Shot and going through some of the toy releases, I think they have nailed Han Solo in this new film. We’ll have to see how it is, but so far, the hot rod speeders are there, the souped-up star ships, the guns and the attitude are all there, so I am excited, more so than I was even a month ago.
I was in England for a good part of the Han Solo filming at Pinewood and I read all the news I could from the set as it was happening. It was exciting for me to be that close to the movie. One of my methods of stress management is to play a lot, whether it is video games, toys with my grandkids, or just roaming around at the store looking at new toys coming out. I particularly like the Star Wars section and the Lego sections of toy stores. Playing with ideas and massaging my imagination helps me solve complicated problems in real life, so there is a method I use to make those experiences productive in the real world. The Han Solo Landspeeder was very exciting for me personally because it has a lot of design in it that reflects the Han Solo character in all the ways that I enjoy. While everyone doesn’t get as excited about toys and Star Wars that as I do, the people who do are often those who advance human civilization in positive ways, engineers, creative people, and authors. Star Wars is such a major contributor to modern literature and the sciences that I get excited with each new film because of the cultural impacts that naturally spawn off them. Solo: A Star Wars Story however has more pressure on it than any movie yet has. How this one goes will determine the future of Star Wars forever, so there is a lot on the table. From what I have seen so far, I don’t think anybody will be disappointed.
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