D23 and Star Wars: Liberal ideas are rejected everywhere, especially in a galaxy far, far away

It’s important because it involves so many parts of our culture, but as I occasionally do write about Star Wars it is interesting to watch as how its meaning has changed for people over time. Personally, when people ask me how I’m able to do so much on such a range of things, it’s because I use mythology to grasp concepts so that there is room for ideas to be conceived and to grow. I would compare it to a bowl to hold something like popcorn in, the bigger the bowl, the more ideas you can hold. Mythology is how the human race holds ideas that it can then grasp and work with, and the bigger the ideas, the better functioning the society. In a lot of ways young people have more than ever lots of vehicles to invest ideas into, not just the movies that we all grew up on, but video games, a lot of literature, and all the streaming services that are available such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. And to make those streaming services flourish there has to be a lot of content and Hollywood, as I have been saying for years, is struggling to produce. We live in one of the most creative times in human history, but we have more than ever also witnessed how liberalism in general in a culture of mass competition for ideas shows the trends of society and nothing more vividly displays that trend like Star Wars, because it is at least a cultural measure that everyone can pretty much agree is a standard mythology of our culture. Not everyone likes it, but it manages to touch most people in some way or another making a great platform for analysis.

So to catch everyone up on where Star Wars is, there is a movie coming out this December, it’s the last film of the nine part series that has been going on for 40 years. It’s an important key to whether or not Star Wars survives into the future because as of now, it only has nostalgic value. Young people don’t necessarily like it on its own, its more something that they can share with their parents and grandparents, so the brand is struggling. Watching all the D23 news from Disney over this past weekend there is a lot to look forward to from arguably the largest media company in the world. But the evidence that as a very progressive company that has lost their way into making new and fresh ideas is obvious. Disney as a company is living off their legacy properties and what they’ve done many years ago, not what they have been able to do lately. With the exception of the Marvel movies, there hasn’t been anything fresh from Disney for years as they have taken for granted that people will buy into their products even though they are spewing with progressive political causes, such as race diversity, sex issues such as feminism, and elements of gay rights that most people just aren’t comfortable with. Disney as a company has tried to hide their massive appetite for capitalism behind progressive causes and it has hurt them tremendously—because they weren’t honest about it. They would have been better off to proclaim that they are happy to make money and not ashamed of it one bit instead of trying to sell themselves off as progressive activists laboring for every liberal cause known to mankind. Not so much at the stock exchange rate yet, but that is coming just as I stated years ago after the first new age Star Wars film came out, that Disney has really screwed up the multi billion dollar franchise leaving them desperate to fix it, which is what they are promising to do on several fronts starting with the new film coming out this December in addition to several live action television shows coming to their new streaming service, such as The Mandalorian, and a new show just about Obi-Wan Kenobi played by Ewen McGregor which fans have wanted for over 20 years.

Star Wars, especially the best parts of it such as the cantina scenes where Obi-Wan cuts off the arm of an assailant in A New Hope, then shortly thereafter Han Solo kills the bounty hunter Greedo in a blaze of gun fire, these modern progressive filmmakers thought that what they had made with Star Wars could be that bowl I was talking about that could hold lots of ideas including copious amounts of progressive sentiment. Even with the billions of dollars that Disney has put into Star Wars the fans have responded flat which was most notable with the most recent Star Wars movie, which I loved, Solo: A Star Wars Story. After The Last Jedi, which I enjoyed, fans had shown they had enough of Disney tampering with something they loved and they were rejecting the Disneyification of Star Wars outright, and not buying the toys, and merchandise at the levels that Disney needed them to in order to justify their investment. This has been obvious now that the big Star Wars lands that have opened in California and now in Disney World in Orlando and people aren’t that interested. I warned everyone way back in 2015 on radio and several articles, that the key to the franchise wasn’t Luke Skywalker, it was Han Solo, the space cowboy that reflected the American values of Ayn Rand and John Wayne, which has always been at the heart of Star Wars. Star Wars for people is best when it has those elements, not actors that were cast because they were Latino, or because they were women—but because the characters were good and the actors fit the part. When Disney essentially killed off the angry white guy characters and failed to replace them with new ones, they lost their audience. The Last Jedi was essentially a movie where all the white men were killed and the crazy progressive women were all in charge and people, real people who are out there voting for Donald Trump don’t want to see movies and stories about that kind of topic, and it has really hurt the Star Wars brand.

But I am encouraged, this year at D23 Disney is showing that they can take their money and do great things with it. I am rooting for them to get it right, I want their Star Wars Land of Galaxy’s Edge to be successful, I want to see Star Wars make a strong comeback for that next generation because it is still one of the best things out there to take our culture from where it was to where it needs to go in science and thought. There is room for big ideas in Star Wars, which is what I use it for as a mythology. It’s a big story with lots of bold concepts, but at its heart it was and continues to be a space western. So long as that formula is stuck to, Star Wars will be successful. If progressive concepts are placed above that formula, then its over for Disney and they seem to understand that now, after a decade of hard lessons.

I was enjoying all the news coming out of D23 and I sort of celebrated by picking up the Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges video game which converts your smart phone into an augmented reality simulator and I have to say it is extremely impressive. But you can see clearly the hit Star Wars has taken to their brand. The unit just a year ago was being sold at Target for $200 and I picked it up this week for less than $50. I figured that for that much money I could take a risk and buy the Disney product and I’m glad I did. But considering what they had done to the legacy fans with the books and previous comics and other merchandise then gave those same fans a mess of a movie in The Force Awakens, which essentially killed all the old white guys and put progressive diversity in charge only to lose over and over again to a very inept First Order, not even I would pay that much money for a new Star Wars game. That’s unfortunate, because the game itself is just amazing, a real technical marvel and exhibition of mythology pushed to its absolute limits. Big ideas, big fun, and a major advancement of the story telling experience.

The lesson here is that progressive, or even liberal ideas cannot fill up that bowl of thought, and people won’t just accept those concepts because they like Star Wars. They like Star Wars because it represents values that most people share, small government, independence, and you gotta have guns. The anti-gun policies and hippie like love your neighbor stuff doesn’t go well with a franchise that is all about war and why wars happen. When you can’t even where a gun on your hip in cosplay to the new Star Wars land in Florida because everyone is crazy over weapons and terrorism, Disney has to understand that you can’t tell a story about peace, love, and trusting the government without weapons, and expect people to spend millions of dollars of their hard earned money on it, just so they can eat colored popcorn and drink blue milk. Star Wars is about fighting for independence, especially personal independence. In all Star Wars stories that are good are examples of institutional failure, even among the Jedi Council, and that is the heart of the entire franchise. Unfortunately, Disney was a part of that institutional thinking and it took them a long time to come close to figuring out the problem. I just hope its not too late. It would be a shame if it is.

Rich Hoffman

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