The Best Couple of Days of My Life: Galaxy’s Edge was a true masterpiece and marvel of achievement toward creativity

Anybody who knows me, knows that the way to my heart is through creativity, anything that shows an effort at outside the box creativity is the way to win me over to any effort. This applies to food, buildings, works of art, even relationships. I judge just about everything on the creative level of input from the participants, and if they don’t show an effort at creativity, I quickly disregard whatever it is as useless. I’m largely a Star Wars fan because the film franchise, the toys, the merchandise in general have always been very creative, and its fun to visit anything Star Wars as to offer from a creative standpoint. I always find that the reality of Star Wars is better than the reality of our present society because in Star Wars they are asking creatively how things could be instead of crying about how things are. If I had to sum up my love of Star Wars in one sentence, that would be it. So with all that context I visited finally Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios and I have to say with great enthusiasm that it was a dream come true. I have to thank the Disney Imagineers and Bob Iger’s vision to turn them loose on this $1 billion dedication to creativity and everything that Star Wars could be, so that I could walk around and see, touch, taste and experience a Star Wars reality that I really thought would never be possible, even with my considerable talents at creativity being what they are.

I found my visits this past week to Galaxy’s Edge mind bending, and simply jaw dropping. I’ve traveled around the world and experienced many cultures. Nothing comes close to what I experienced at Galaxy’s Edge. Even though it is all a fictional reality, I found it quite clear that the Imagineers of Disney had not just recreated a Star Wars experience for fans of the films and books, but had created a better reality for which the stories of Star Wars had always been endeavoring to create in the minds of their fans. Only now it was real, you could see it, touch it, and taste it. The perfect symphonic elements of good storytelling I don’t think have ever been done this well anywhere in the world, ever.

I remember when The Lion King was all the rage on Broadway and how the use of the puppet props to recreate the story of the animated movie The Lion King touched people in what many thought was a sophisticated way. It was considered high art by even the most hardened social critics. Walking into this Galaxy’s Edge land dedicated to Star Wars with all the great sounds and music by John Williams genius work was not just watching a concert where the actors and musicians were on stage performing for you, but that you were now part of the story and the action was happening to you. It was an entirely new way to present a high art concept using a popular film franchise as the launching point. Everywhere I looked was an obvious, “this is how it could be” message by Disney Imagineers. The ever important asking of the question, “what if?”

To start by asking a question, “what if the values of cowboy cinema and Saturday morning serials could be met to the needs of the next generation of space traveler” was the question George Lucas asked years ago before using Joseph Campbell’s studies on mythology to launch the Star Wars film franchise. Then to see it evolve into a full three dimensional reality with the promise of more, and more for me was the most ambitious attempt ever conducted at such an audacious task, the realization of a fantasy into a known reality even on such a level as Star Wars is known for. This was the highest form of storytelling that I have ever seen in any format by any level of content. It was sophisticated, honest, and hopeful in inspiring people to ask those next level questions about our own reality. If you can have Star Wars in Disney World, then why not everywhere, and on any planet? As I walked around Galaxy’s Edge I thought of Elon Musk and what designs his engineers at Space X might be inspired to upon visiting this place and how the Mars expeditions of the future might take shape directly inspired by these constructs. In all my years of reading about mythology, comparative religion and science fiction in general, nobody had ever come close to doing anything remotely close to what Disney had done at Galaxy’s Edge. When they said this was the most ambitious project they had ever attempted, they weren’t kidding.

I couldn’t get enough of that place. It was the most comfortable I can remember ever feeling anywhere at any point in my life. When I was a kid I had a very creative place in my parents basement that was dedicated to Star Wars. I built lots of models and landscapes dedicated to the old Kenner toys and I enjoyed that until about age 13 when my parents were concerned that I’d rather spend time there than in dating and socializing. They took it down while I was at school one day and let me know that they were going to fix up the basement and were going to move me down there so I could have my own room through my teenage years. I never really got over that experience, I was so angry about it that I carried it around for years. Not that I could blame them, they thought they were doing the right thing. But for my kind of mind, it was the worst thing they could have done. I just wanted to have a creative space for my mind and when they took that away, there wasn’t a replacement so I internalized everything because there was no other choice.

And even when you grow up, it doesn’t get any easier. People want pieces of you every hour of every day, and if you are a good person, you do all you can to help them out with their problems. For me, the more people who come into your life the harder it is to find time to think, which is what I like doing the most. So as ridiculous as it sounds, I have been craving that creative space for myself all these years since then to now, but life just doesn’t give it to you. You either get it as a kid or never again because kids don’t yet have the responsibility of life. So they get free time to think about things, and when life came to interrupt my creative solitude, I did the best I could with it, but nothing life offered was ever as satisfying as that creative space I had in my parent’s basement when I was 9 to 13 years old. Walking through Galaxy’s Edge it was obvious that my sentiments were not alone to me, but that many of the people who had built the place, under the power of Disney’s financial abilities, had similar experiences as me, and this was a love letter from them to the efforts of creativity. It was a place I had been thinking of building since I was a little kid and seeing it and being there was very special.

I can’t say enough good things about it. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to visit the place. It was and will likely remain one of the best couple of days of my life.

Rich Hoffman

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

Sign up for Second Call Defense here: http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707 Use my name to get added benefits.

Blame Fat Asian Chicks: The terrible numbers for the ‘Star Wars’ future

As I was saying about the movie math of The Last Jedi before the Christmas holiday weekend—they are in trouble. And it doesn’t make me happy to say it, because something like this has massive cultural ramifications for the future—and its clear that people were front loaded on the film. They went to see it when it first came out. But as Luke faded away at the end of the film, so did the fan base. You can’t go kill off all the original characters and expect to keep this thing alive unless the new characters are every bit as charismatic—and they clearly aren’t. Kylo Ren is the most exciting character and he’s the bad guy—everyone else is just wall paste and that’s a real problem. The movie will make its money, but the problem is, will people still love this film in 2040—like they do the originals? No. Even in the year of 2050 people will still love the original films, but will be indifferent of the prequels and the sequels—and that is truly sad.

I made a decision not too long ago that I would support the Star Wars franchise mainly because of my grandchildren and children. After The Force Awakens I didn’t want to talk about Star Wars for an entire year, and my kids missed it. They like to bounce morality themes off me decorated with Star Wars plots and not having the ability to do that wore on their minds. So it is more destructive to say no to it than to accept what good does come from it. When the new Star Wars land opens in Disney World we’ll go to it, and I’m sure we’ll love it. But as far as enthusiasm for what comes next from the Lucasfilm group—the magic is clearly gone and that was an avoidable circumstance. It was a bad idea to assume that Star Wars stories could be created in group think instead of that classical way Lucas used which was just a piece of paper and a pencil—and one human mind.

I recently reread the book by Norman Vincent Peale The Power of Positive Thinking. I was provoked into this endeavor by watching recently The Founder, the story of Ray Kroc who started the McDonald’s franchise. When he was an up and coming traveling salesman, he listened to a book version of the Peale book to motivate him each day. The book was very popular in that late 50s early 60s period and I can imagine George Lucas having access to it, because a lot of what is in that book are some of the best lines of dialogue from the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back. I do know something about George Lucas as he was on the board of The Joseph Campbell Foundation when I was a member—and I’m sure that Peale played a part of influence on the young George Lucas. He may not admit to it today as all his liberal friends would likely berate him for it, but The Power of Positive Thinking is every bit as strong in the core of American value as it was when it was written. That kind of element is what’s missing from these new Star Wars movies—Luke being the pessimist, the lack of an eternally optimistic Han Solo character who doesn’t get pushed around by the girls in the movies. Star Wars was and always will be a throwback film to the kind of America that was the 1940s through the 1950s—just as Disney World reflects that same optimism from its founder in its amusement parks. People aren’t going to pay good money and buy lots of merchandise for something that makes them depressed and all these new Star Wars films have a premise set in sacrifice, not in proactive action.

I had a reading marathon over the Christmas break, I read three books in three days and I utilized the entire clock to do so—and I loved it. The Power of Positive Thinking was an easy read for me, but it took some time, around 10 hours, and I had it timed to the arrival of my next book, The 15:17 to Paris, which is about the terrorist attack that was stopped by three heroes riding a train from Amsterdam to Paris when an ISIS sympathizer launched an attack with 500 people on board. As I was finishing Peale’s book at 1:57 PM on December 26th, 2017 a notification came up on my computer saying that The 15:17 to Paris had arrived at my house. So I closed the Peale book just as the dogs were barking and noticed a mail truck stuffing the book into my mailbox as the snow was falling. I walked out in my bare feet to retrieve the book as snow blew across our driveway. I grabbed the book and went back to my chair and opened it up—only about five minutes transpired, and I started reading that book and within 6 pages the mother of Spencer Stone was praying for her child to be safe in France ahead of the terrorist attack. I knew as I read that under Clint Eastwood’s direction that this movie was going to be a hit, because America is still that hopeful and faithful nation. Disney has decided to go against that traditional message and it is hurting them—unnecessarily. After all, wasn’t that the whole point of the movie Dumbo—believing in yourself even when your symbols have been striped away?

The original Star Wars movies were very much about hope, and how positive thinking could overcome anything—no matter the odds. These new films are very progressive and clearly about sacrifice. Who wants to go to the movies to hear a fat Asian girl rattle on about animal rights? If Disney wants to show that average people can be heroes too, there are other ways to do that, but Star Wars is not about those kinds of people. The characters of Star Wars are about the exceptional, not the bland. I bet there will be lots of Rose Star Wars figures on clearance this summer at Target. Who will want that one for their collection? At the end of The Last Jedi the new girl power had pretty much destroyed their resistance showing themselves to be completely incompetent. It’s one thing to be outmatched as the Rebellion always was, but this Resistance is an official branch of the governing power. How could the female generals screw it up so bad? Those are the kinds of questions that people left the theater thinking. They certainly weren’t passionate enough about the film to go see it a second time, or a third—which is what it needed.

This is all important because it says much more about our culture overall. Star Wars is a big part of that culture and now we can see that the magic that made the originals good, just isn’t there in the modern sense and that can be traced back to our divided country politically and on matters of religion. Hollywood is a depressed culture full of losers, drug addicts, promiscuous cape riders, cheats, low-life’s and hopeless degenerates. I noticed that my copy of The 15:17 to Paris shipped from a book store in Van Nuys, California since it was out of print awaiting the updated version that is set to come out with the release of the Eastwood movie in early February. But I didn’t want to wait so I found a new copy of the book in that little town which is a suburb of Los Angeles essentially—just a few miles down the road from where Star Wars was originally partially filmed, where Industrial Light and Magic started as a special effects company for the Star Wars movies. As I watched my package move across the country I thought about how different California was from when Star Wars was first made. The hints of progressivism were already there, but there were enough people not yet corrupted that it wasn’t noticeable unless you really picked up the curtain. Now, it’s a very different place and the people who have helped make it so progressive are now the people making Star Wars movies, and they don’t get it. They don’t understand what made Star Wars great in the first place and they don’t understand American audiences—at all. And that is a damn shame. Nothing against fat Asian chicks—there is a place for them in the world—but forcing them into a plot just to do it says that the filmmakers have no idea what they are doing. Which is directly reflected by the box office numbers.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

D23 Reveals the new Star Wars Land: Where science and technology meets mythology and imagination

I’ve been saying it for quite a long time and for fun you should go back and read what I first said about this topic way back in October of 2012—but this year at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California Disney finally unveiled their elaborate plans for Star Wars Land.  The immense impact that I think this has on the human race is incalculable.  It’s not just another revenue stream for Disney’s massive media company, it is a launching point for new ways in thinking about mankind’s role in the cosmos and it is a jaw dropping culmination of imagination, engineering and philosophical debate all splashed down into a reality created from myth to be shaped by minds into an actual future.  What they revealed to me at D23 exceeded my expectations by a lot and it is certainly worth talking about.

I remember when I was a kid what it was like to ride the submarine at Disney World way back in the early 80s for the 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea exhibit.  It was I thought really well done.  I loved that Jules Verne classic both in novelization and the Disney film and it was very fascinating to me as a young pre-teen to see that ship in some scale that represented reality.  To be up close to it, to touch it, to ride inside it as it went slightly under water was something I’ll never forget.   And that was the case for much of Disney World back then, I had seen all these movies and at the early days of the Disney World’s Magic Kingdom before even the Epcot Center was built really launched me into adult pursuits mixed with adventure, a very detailed love of engineering, entrepreneurship, and literacy.   Even though I knew the exhibits were not real it always fascinated me to the level that Disney Imagineering was able to simulate what the imagination could create and apply real engineering marvel to those creations taking our minds from conception to reality.

I’ve always loved Star Wars maybe more because of how the movies were made than in what the stories actually said.  Most of my youth I watched and read of how my favorite movies were made and Star Wars filled my mind with technical details of how simple things were made into big things to make those films appear to be set in a galaxy far, far away a long time ago.  Largely, Star Wars was shaped by the Imagineering at Disney World because what they were able to do early on at Disney was carried directly into the production of Star Wars so the enormous market potential created by Disney Imagineering is really incalculable.  It is extremely difficult to know how deeply our modern society has been affected by just the very rudimentary exposure that we’ve seen in technology from 1970 until the present.   So by applying the same trajectory of thought, what they have been exploring in “Imagineering” at Disney over just the last decade is truly uncharted ground.  There are literally millions of young people inspired into the sciences by their experiences at these amusement parks.

When Universal Studios did their multipark Harry Potter experience I knew that we were unlocking a whole new theme park experience.    If Disney World set the stage for how these theme parks took movie magic and made them into a reality then Universal Studios took things to the next level and what they did in Orlando at Universal Studios with the literature of Harry Potter, first from the books then to the movie experience was just phenomenal, and it continues to be.   A visit to Universal Studios in Orlando is a trip into the imaginary worlds that Jules Verne and H.G. Wells could have never comprehended as a reality for young people.  And if you visit the NASA complex at the Kennedy Space Center you’ll quickly see how much reverence they have for the author Jules Verne.  The book From the Earth to the Moon framed early engineers and scientists at NASA and the rocket program before the space agency was created, into flying to the moon.   The human imagination is a very powerful tool and many of the products we see today are a direct result of our ability to think then make those imaginings into some sort of reality.

Well, Star Wars went several steps further in what had previously been done with imaginative thinking and once Disney acquired the property I had a feeling they would do something with Star Wars that would put it on a grand scale.  And now, at D23, they have shown us the model of what they are building—a 14 acre deep dive into the depths of extreme imagination.  The Disney Imagineers have been given a free hand to create something with Lucasfilm that will take visitors not only into the films that are so popular, but into a story they can then invest in themselves.   These Disney people weren’t just trying to duplicate some memorable events from the movies but they are going several steps further—and what they are coming up with will have explosive results on our human population.  I can only imagine what impact it will have on young minds visiting these Star Wars Lands in both Anaheim, and Orlando by having their minds ignited toward careers spawned from that experience.

You have to remember dear reader that while all this Star Wars stuff is going on at Disney, in new movies, theme park worlds and video games, NASA has been given the green light to return to space working with the private industry.   President Trump literally wants to return to the moon just a year after Disney opens up this new Star Wars Land—so space is going to be on everyone’s minds very soon.  I can say that I’m presently looking at what role I can play in this new space race as a grown adult.  There will be opportunities to build hotels and factories in space, on the Moon and on Mars over the next twenty years so for me as an adult it will be very fun, and stimulating to visit Star Wars Land and bridge reality to what the imagination has come up with there.  The idea of space ports interacting with many different species coming together over a vast galaxy is a strong philosophic concept that must be reconciled before actual science takes us to those places—and as the news of these phenomenal events begin to fill our basic reality soon, these fantastic theme parks are literally going to inspire us in ways that From the Earth to the Moon couldn’t.  I don’t think these Star Wars Lands are just for fun and excess—I think they will actually advance our technology and science by inspiring young people in ways that we’ve never experienced as a species thus far in our evolution.

I always enjoy the news that comes out of D23 and other science and fantasy conventions whether the topics are theme parks or from Fantasy Flight Games where our imaginations are stretched out for comprehension of new ideas massaged in brand new ways.  But this year is quite different.  If you combine the science and imagination of what Disney has been planning now for over five years—from when I first wrote about this story—with the optimism of the Trump presidency—we are talking about some very special days ahead for us all.  Even those who don’t think much of the Star Wars movies will find that the basic spill over of that fantasy will flow directly into our science of tomorrow—and THAT is a very exciting prospect that leaves me hungry for each new day and what might be revealed yet to come.

Rich Hoffman

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

cropped-img_0202.jpg