Disney’s Fantasy Island: Where imagination intersects with reality to create mythology

I have been just a little enamored by all the news coming out of D23 in Anaheim, California over the weekend of 7/14–7/16.  I know many of my readers come here looking for political commentary, or uplifting insight into some complicated matter, but for anyone who knows me; the key to living that I find most valuable is mythology.  I credit the great Joseph Campbell as being the only teacher I ever really found valuable as I spent much of my youth digesting his vast work in the realm of mythology.  And in the modern sense, Star Wars is the greatest realization of modern myth that there is.  To the extent that Star Wars can expand the imagination of the human race is something I find infinitely valuable and is important if we look out beyond the limits of our present political entanglements. Even in the realm of education, Star Wars is changing the game and now under Disney’s guidance the results to me are mind bending—as was revealed by the entertainment company at their D23 Expo.

When I was a kid there was a popular television show called Fantasy Island that came on Saturday nights and I enjoyed it immensely. The premise was that whatever fantasy a visitor might have they could visit Fantasy Island and live it out only to learn some life lesson by the end of their trip that was important to their return to the regular world.  Well, Disney with all their resources are using the mythology of Star Wars to create their own version of a real “Fantasy Island” at Hollywood Studios with an exhibit they are calling now “Galaxy’s Edge” which is a fully immersive Star Wars land designed to take the theme park experience to the next level.  I wrote about that the other day, click here to review.  But in addition to that they are opening a Star Wars resort which is a completely immersive “fantasy island type of experience where you actually will be a part of a Star Wars story which I think is phenomenal on many levels as these videos will reveal.

Many years ago as I was one of the core members of The Joseph Campbell Foundation invited to Washington D.C. by Campbell’s wife Jean and a few other people who were very close to George Lucas who at that time was a board of director member—to review a very special Star Wars exhibit at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  It was a big event and we had the VIP experience of getting there first before it was opened to the public.  So I took my kids because I knew it would be important in their lives.  And they never forgot it—and neither did I.  It was an experience that bonded us all very tightly—and that is what a good mythology can do.  You should never get lost in some fantasy and avoid living life, but I often say that Star Wars to me is like a vacation that I take in my mind.  I’m always thinking about very intense things and get myself into very stressful acts—and Star Wars in the form of some video game, book, or movie puts ideas onto a place where I can see them differently and usually solve problems by changing the perspective a bit.  For instance I’m currently very excited for the release of Battlefront II.  When it comes out I’ll probably spend a month playing it very diligently because it helps me manage very complex real life situations through the problem solving that you get while playing acting in battlefield strategies and war-time scenarios set in a Star Wars context.  I thought that these Battlefront games from Electronic Arts were the ultimate first person Star Wars experience.  Until this year’s D23—a Star Wars resort with a new land within Hollywood Studios called Galaxy’s Edge.  Compared to when I took my kids to the Star Wars exhibit at the Smithsonian in 1997 as a proud member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation from the perspective of a “mythology insider,” what Disney is doing is incredible, and I’m a big fan of it.

But that wasn’t all.  Over the past year I mentioned that I bought a Playstation VR device essentially so I could play the Battlefront Star Wars VR mission that came out on it over the previous Christmas.  It was to me a jaw-dropping experience and it has been a feature attraction to anybody who has come to my home over the last 6 months. The ability to fly an X-Wing Fighter into combat in and around a Star Destroyer was incredibly well done and if that was the extent of it I would be forever impressed.  But now a company called Lenovo has teamed up with Disney to create what is called an “augmented reality” experience meaning that you can see reality as you normally would only with a special headset new things can be introduced to it.  In this case you can embark on Jedi light saber training and play the Holo Chess that was so popular in the Star Wars films with this “augmented reality.”  That brings the experience of Star Wars and its mythology even more to the private world of the home environment.   Mythology is driving technology in ways that are then coming back to the personal experience of living the power of myth.   I will certainly be getting the new “augmented reality” headset by Lenovo as soon as it hits Best Buy likely this fall.


But this home technology only hints at what a company like Disney can do at these theme parks now to provide that truly Fantasy Island experience for their guests.  Star Wars is a powerful mythology.  On the surface it’s for kids, but the themes it contains are very primal and communicate with people in ways that nothing else currently does.   For adults Las Vegas has created some of that Fantasy Island mystic, but it doesn’t contain enough mythology to be a truly beneficial experience.  You get the sights and sounds of some fantasy thought, but not the problem solving that comes with experiencing an “augmented reality.”  I typically read a lot which works for me, but most people don’t take time for that kind of experience and the mind does get fatigued if it is not fed a steady dose of imagination.  A mind filled with imaginative elements whether from a fantasy situation or just from stimuli works better than a mind weighed down with the weights of reality.  Mythology helps people think bigger about things and that is a truly beneficial service.   But the ability to move directly into a mythic circumstance is truly revolutionary.  It is a real Fantasy Island type of experience and I think it will have vast importance over the coming decade culturally.

I knew when Universal Studios opened up that Harry Potter experience in their Florida parks that we were moving into a new kind of mythic experience.  And I knew that Disney would have an answer.  But I didn’t think it would be possible to be this cool.  What is happening is far exceeding my expectations and the possibilities are obvious.  I remember all too well how powerful Star Wars was to me and my family when these new options were not available.  What they will do to the mind of the up and coming to me is truly mind-blowing with benefits.  And I’m very excited to see more.  I was looking forward for quite a number of months to see what this year’s D23 would reveal.  What they showed was far more than I anticipated which is hard to do.  That leaves an astounding thought, what will be next?

Rich Hoffman

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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

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Ron Howard Directing the New Han Solo Film: Why hating Donald Trump is toxic for people in the entertainment industry

There is no way I couldn’t do it because it was only the biggest news story of the week—bigger than Donald Trump’s latest speech, bigger than the latest terrorist threat in Europe—it was so big that it actually led the headlines for three solid days worldwide.  The new Han Solo Star Wars movie production fired its two directors—whom I liked—Phil Lord and Christopher Miller with just three weeks left on the schedule and a summer of re-shoots still needing completion.  Obviously, I have designated myself as a Star Wars fan and out of all the characters in that fantasy sci-fi series Han Solo is my absolutely favorite character.  So even though there are thousands of other topics I might otherwise discuss—I must cover this issue by default of its cultural importance—because as I’ve said many times, Star Wars is not just a movie.  For many people it is a nearly religious event with tremendous cultural ramifications.  And yes, this was big news to a lot of people—and to the film industry as a whole.  My first inclination was optimism for reasons that I’ll describe because it tells me that Kathy Kennedy has her arms around these Star Wars movies—she understands what needs to be done and she isn’t afraid to do it—and I respect that.  Her pick for the next director couldn’t have been better—Ron Howard fresh off the Genius National Geographic drama about Albert Einstein.

I understand now that it was the kid playing the young Han Solo who actually started the process, Alden Ehrenreich.  He apparently was concerned that the directors known for their comedy in films like 21 Jump Street were not taking the picture to a place it needed to go and he spoke to people about it.  His instincts were correct, Han Solo is serious business even though there is comedy that surrounds a character like that—it’s a very fine line.  After Ehrenreich stated his concerns the word got back to Kathy Kennedy who took a look at the dailies and the film just wasn’t working.  It’s not necessarily the fault of Lord and Miller, but if they weren’t getting that fine line—then they needed to be fired.

Additionally, and this is something I don’t think any of them would admit, I noticed that both Miller and Lord were openly protesting Donald Trump and were members of this new Hollywood “resistance” which happens to be the same name of the group that works against the Empire in the new Star Wars films—and this was making Disney and Kathy Kennedy nervous.  The Han Solo film went into production in February of this year and I just happened to be in London at the same time so I was seeing news that wasn’t so available in the United States and I was very concerned that these new Star Wars directors were so openly against Trump and were fully supporting demonstrations in the streets of London.  There is no question that some of that radicalism was finding its way into the new Star Wars movie—where it clearly didn’t belong.  By pissing off half the country in America with political activism in a Star Wars film it would certainly take a hit at the box office and the franchise led by Kennedy these days can’t afford something like that, directly or indirectly.  It was so bad that I actually Tweeted the kids to knock it off—they needed to keep their eyes on the big picture.

Just this week Johnny Depp effectively ended his career when he stated that he thought that a modern actor should assassinate Donald Trump—he was speaking to a group in England where that kind of talk is quite popular these days and he forgot really how far his statements might go—and once it hit the American media it was too late for him.  Depp’s latest Pirates of the Caribbean film had done decent business and if he had kept his mouth shut, he might have recovered as an actor.  His recent divorce and difficulties on the set of Dead Men Tell No Tales have flagged him as a has been that can’t deliver at the box office.  His money was over extended and he really needed to just ride the wave of Pirates and actually hope for another one to pull him out of this slump. But now—he’s toxic. Like it or not, Trump is president and many people are having a positive experience because of it—and they don’t want to hear a bunch of spoiled brat actors and directors taking shots at their president in movies they pay to see. It’s just not good business.  I think Johnny Depp—as much as I like him as an actor—just killed his career forever.  He’ll never recover. He literally just went from riches to rags—because with his financial problems he needed to stay on top to get large pay checks and he just killed that opportunity.

Although I was critical of the Genius show on the National Geographic Channel, Ron Howard did a great job as he always does directing it.  He is one of the top filmmakers in the world clearly functioning from a different place—and when it was announced that Lucasfilm had hired him to replace Lord and Miller I was very happy about it.  Ron Howard knew how to keep the modern politics out of his projects just like many older directors could. For instance, I never knew whether or not George Lucas or Steven Spielberg were conservatives or liberals in the 80s.  When Ronald Reagan invited them to the White House they went and took pictures and they certainly didn’t protest in politics.  If Return of the Jedi had references to the Vietnam War in it sympathetic to the Vietnamese—I couldn’t tell by watching the product.

I was quite shocked to find in the 90s that Spielberg and Lucas gave money to the Clintons and were becoming more active within the Democratic Party—and as much as I liked them—I thought differently about them since then.  No longer did I rush out and see their movies because they had shown themselves to be against conservative positions—and honestly they never recovered their former positions culturally because of it.  However, Ron Howard has never lost that and is the closest thing we have in Hollywood to a good traditional director and actor who established his roots on the Andy Griffin Show.  He knows how to walk that fine line so that people can enjoy a project of his without thinking about the modern politics of the moment—because ten to twenty years from now—you still want the film to be relevant.

For this Han Solo movie to have the kind of appeal that Disney needs out of it they really need to pull off something special and it’s a credit to Kathy Kennedy that she took action before it was too late.  Ron Howard will know what to do and I’m relieved for it.  The world is changing and that radicalism that Hollywood has embraced cannot find its way into something that needs to stay relevant well into the future.  By the time this Han Solo movie is released in May of 2018 we will be living in a different world–largely shaped by Donald Trump’s presidency—and a lot of people will be supportive of him.  They don’t want to see a movie made by people who openly hate him and have filled their Twitter pages with disparaging Trump remarks.  They’ll want to go to the darkened theater and enjoy a new Star Wars movie without politics trying to shape their opinions—and Ron Howard knows how to do that.  After all, it wasn’t Howard’s fault that I liked Albert Einstein less after his Genius series.  It was to Howard’s credit that I was able to get to know Einstein much better than ever before.  As an artist he just presented the facts—he didn’t tell me how to feel—and that is the difference between a great director and people who are just average.  That is why hiring Howard to direct the Han Solo movie will prove to be so brilliant—and I’m glad the production had the courage to do it—before it was too late.

Rich Hoffman

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‘Star Wars’ Land Updates: Toy guns and realistic play contribute greatly to a healthy, and sane life


I know there are a lot of big things going on in the world, but from my perspective, some of the most important are happening in Orlando, Florida with the Star Wars Celebration.  The reason is that one of my favorite topic is human cultures, their influences, and how they vary from region to region and I see Star Wars as one of the greatest positive contributors to the future of our human race, psychologically, philosophically, religiously, and scientifically.  It’s a fun topic but under it all I see the potential for tremendous opportunities in the future.  And as we celebrated Easter at my house and I went out to Target and bought up a bunch of Star Wars Nerf guns for the kids to play with on a really nice Sunday in Ohio I watched the footage of the Imagineers at Disney World conducting their Galaxy in the Making update on their two Star Wars themed worlds to be opened in Orlando and Anaheim during 2019.   Check out what they have in store.

I love guns—everything from my favorite .500 Smith & Wesson Magnum to the Star Wars Nerf guns.  My mom bought me for the fun of it a little Cassian Andor Nerf pistol which I wrote about during the Christmas of 2016 because I was deeply impressed with it.  When I was a kid, I loved the Star Wars guns, but they didn’t shoot anything.  That didn’t stop my brother and I from playing war all the time.  There were several years of my youth that playing war with the kids who lived near me was my favorite thing to do and if I had the guns that kids today can buy at Target and Wal-Mart I would literally have been in Heaven.  Star Wars for me was always about gunfights and being able to play some of those gunfights in real life which was just great.  Knowing all the kids were coming over for Easter I stopped by Target to buy their specific Cassian Andor sniper rifle which is just something special.  It has a clip that holds 12 shots which can be fired as fast as you can pull the trigger.  The trigger pull activates a cool little internal light that charges up your glow in the dark Nerf darts and they come out of the gun’s barrel looking like tracer fire.  The gun fires off compressed air generated by a fan which takes away some of the mechanical aspects that might complicate a real AR-15.  The gun operates much better than I would have guessed.  We had a lot of fun with that gun after our Easter Egg hunt.  I now have a nice collection of these Nerf guns and am a real fan.

But the guns and other toys available to kids these days are just part of the Star Wars experience.  The fun is in being able to play in real life what you mythologically experience through the movies.  And as I’ve said, these days the options are much better than what I had when I was a kid.  For instance, my favorite toy when I was a child was my Han Solo “Empire Strikes Back” version blaster which made a whine sound when you pulled the trigger.  The gun itself wasn’t very impressive because it just made a noise—and not a very good noise at that.  But we’re talking 1980 when I had that gun, yet what it symbolized to me was very special.  However, I just bought the Han Solo Nerf Blaster from the Force Awakens and it is very impressive.  These new Nerf guns not only make great blaster noises that sound like what they do in the movies, but they really shoot.  To get both functions to happen seamlessly is part of the magic of these new toys.  What they are talking about doing down in Orlando at Disney World is something that is certainly next step exciting.  If blasters and games from Star Wars are enhancing the kind of imaginative activities that take place at home—those big theme parks have to go well beyond what the movies can offer, and that’s what they are going to do with Star Wars at Hollywood Studios and Disneyland at Anaheim.

When I first started talking about these new Star Wars Lands at the Disney Parks I was very excited about this because as I said then, many new scientists and philosophers will have their imaginations explode in those places.  Yet, what they are doing with Star Wars Land is far beyond what even I imagined. They are going for a full experience here and that’s a game changer for all amusement parks.  The Disney and Lucasfilm employees in charge of this project are really bringing us the future in every category and the results will be jaw dropping.  We’re talking about full scale spaceships like the Millennium Falcon sitting around that people can see and touch. Imperial Walkers in full scale excitement—a new lightsaber technology that will be patented and developed for Disney World—this is very exciting.  Imagination is now merging with real science to tell stories which evoke leaps in further technological develop which we will eventually find in our daily lives.  Ideas are born in such places and that’s what makes them important for discussion.  The people attending the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando are movie geeks.  But the product of their enthusiasm eventually advances our culture because they spend a lot of money on Star Wars products and Disney reinvests that money in new ways to keep them coming back.  But in the process, they all unlock the human potential available to our species, and that is a beautiful thing.

I know a lot of people.  Some of them are big shots in the world—and some of them run comic book stores and spend all their time escaping in fantasy environments.  I’m not some dude living on a mountaintop in the Rocky Mountains who is out of touch with reality—quite the opposite, and honestly I am probably one of the sanest people alive in the world.  My mental health is excellent.  I can’t imagine anybody being healthier than me and I became that way playing with guns all of my life.  And my first experience with guns came from Star Wars.  Later it came from the great westerns of our movie culture—which eventually migrated into what Star Wars became.  Just like our first five years of life where all we do is play, adults do best when they continue playing well into their mature years—because that’s how we learn as people.  And what Disney is doing at their theme parks with Star Wars is a chance to make play a part of our lives in ways never done before.   And there is nothing wrong with that.

Sure Star Wars is about war, and guns, and people dying.  But it’s about ideas and optimism too and moving beyond the things that scare us.  Guns are the first step in that journey because once you learn to master them, you learn not to be afraid and new ideas can then come to your life.  So the toy guns, the light sabers and confronting villains is a part of our life within Star Wars and making it more real only makes the myth making that much more powerful.  The more playing we do in this realm of overcoming our fears—the better we all are and that is precisely what Disney is creating at its theme parks and I think it’s just riveting.  I am very much looking forward to the new Star Wars Land opening up.  But in the meantime, I think I’ll enjoy the Nerf guns and play Star Wars with my grandchildren as much as possible!

Rich Hoffman


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‘The Last Jedi’ Movie Preview from Celebration, Orlando: Ending the Vico Cycle philosophically

IMG_4424I cover a lot of Star Wars news because, as I’ve said before, it’s the best mythological tool that the human race has right now—which sets it clearly apart from other movies.  It’s special and even though Star Wars these days is made by people who likely voted for Hillary Clinton 100%–the people who work at Lucasfilm are the best in the business of making movies on a commercial-scale.  The stories of Star Wars clearly extend beyond modern politics.  I think they are extremely important to our status as a culture on planet earth.  So I pay close attention to Star Wars and enjoy very much when they have their Celebration activities.   It just so happens that this year Celebration is in one of my favorite cities in the world—Orlando, and I find it creatively refreshing to hear the latest news from the Star Wars universe.  And this year, there was a lot of news, some of which is shown below.  But the biggest news was the release of the movie trailer for the next film due out this Christmas.

I’ve loved Star Wars most of my life—it actually opened a lot of doors for me.  I completely understand that Star Wars was intended for 12-year-old children, but in a lot of ways that part of me is still very much alive.  Even if I didn’t have grandkids, and my own kids didn’t still love Star Wars, I’d spend a considerable amount of time enjoying the art and ideas that come out of the Star Wars stories.  I understand why George Lucas made the films and what his source material was and I plunged myself into that world quite dramatically, not as the 12-year-old material for which became Star Wars, but the great literature of James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Joseph Campbell and many great literary figures for which Star Wars was based—including the Holy Bible. Star Wars for me was the gateway to much more serious literature and it has enhanced my life greatly.   So I’m quite open for my joy toward all things Star Wars.

Specifically, what I see in this new trailer for the film that is called The Last Jedi, is a philosophic contemplation on ending the Vico Cycle which is something that was heavily featured in the great literary classic Finnegan’s Wake.  I talk about the Vico Cycle a lot, because our present civilization is at one of those points in our history, so it doesn’t at all surprise me that Star Wars is addressing that very challenging philosophic concept.  George Lucas always said that if there were more Star Wars movies beyond Episode 6 that he’d deal with the philosophic challenges of the life battle between pairs of opposites.  It’s a motif that is as old as human civilization—probably longer.  So yes, Star Wars is all about making movies for kids—but there is more to them than that.  Adults could learn a lot too.

Obviously Han Solo is my favorite character and there is a lot of that guy in me. I saw Star Wars 40 years ago with my parents as a third grader and it stuck with me—especially the character of Han Solo.  I knew that was who I wanted to be when I grew up—and that is largely what happened.  As it turned out, I’m a lot smarter than Han Solo, but I can certainly relate to him.  For my recent 49th birthday my youngest daughter made me the picture featured above, which is what she does.  She’s a marvelous illustrator and this picture of Han Solo fighting it out with stormtroopers using dual pistols is an original picture that can’t be found anywhere else and to me it was quite an astonishing work of art.  She knows I’m excited for the new Han Solo movie coming up within a year or so, where the character is much younger—so she made the picture as a tribute to a much younger Han Solo.  As I’ve said many times also, Han Solo is essentially an Ayn Rand character within Star Wars—and that’s why he’s so popular.  George Lucas may have wanted to have Han transform into a compassionate human being by the end of the series, but the best elements of Han Solo are his Ayn Rand hero traits of acting out of self-interest.  And that is the brilliance of Star Wars—lots of competing ideas can fit into the storytelling and still have a role to play because they are grounded in historical motifs specific to the human race.

When Luke Skywalker says that it’s time for the Jedi to end—he’s talking about a very large idea of taking mankind beyond the pairs of opposites battle that has always been a part of our culture from the beginning. I’ve been thinking about that for a very long time because it is essentially the Vico Cycle, theocracy, aristocracy, democracy, anarchy then rebirth.  And that is a bigger concept than just making a movie for kids.  This stuff is important because it has the potential of taking us all to a new level—as a species.  It’s much more than just a movie or a way for Disney to make money.

For me it’s fun to see my grandkids getting into Star Wars because it at least gives me something to share with them.  My oldest grandson without a whole lot of encouragement has already gone to great lengths to learn all he can about it—which is a great way to have discussions about other topics.  During my birthday celebration, he couldn’t pull himself away from TV where I had Rogue One playing.  As a little boy the hand to hand battles with guns had his mind racing and he was running around the house pretending to shoot at invisible villains—which is very healthy and natural.  It’s a primal concern—especially with little boys.  I’ve spoken in the past also about the great little miracles that Nerf makes as far as Star Wars guns.  These are a lot better than what I grew up with and I have to say that my Han Solo Nerf Blaster is one of my favorite things that I play with around the house.  I will have countless hours of fun with my grandchildren shooting those things and if not for Star Wars—they wouldn’t exist.  The guns and action are part of the Star Wars experience.  Once you get into those, the deeper aspects of the stories become accessible, and if you really go down the rabbit hole—like I did—a whole new world of fresh ideas emerge—and that is a wonderful thing. Even though I’ve been hard on The Force Awakens, my favorite part of that movie is the Rathtar scene and when my grandson comes over he wants me to play the Lego game as Han Solo to beat the Rathtar level because the monsters are scary to him and he likes to see me defeat them.  He amazes me at all his observations even though he’s only four.

I’ve watched all the old Zorro movies and Flash Gordon serials that Star Wars was based on.  I’ve seen all the Akira Kurasawa movies that inspired the Star Wars movie, A New Hope.  But what George Lucas created and these new filmmakers at Lucasfilm under Disney’s ownership are doing is quite a lot more sophisticated.  I think most of the credit goes to Joseph Campbell than anybody—or even John Williams who has created so much wonderful symphonic music for our modern generations that Mozart and Beethoven aren’t even relevant any longer.  Our culture is much richer because of Star Wars than it otherwise would have been, and by the premise of the new movie, there is a lot to look forward to.

Rich Hoffman


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The Best Coverage on ‘Rogue One’ Anywhere: Matt Clark and Rich Hoffman’s ‘Star Wars’ New Year show on WAAM radio

I would dare say that no Star Wars fan anywhere could get a better radio show than the one that Matt Clark and I did on WAAM for what has become an annual event for us.  We didn’t just cover the usual fan elements of the famous Star Wars series, but the cultural aspects and importance that it has on the human race.  To that effect, we covered the latest film Rogue One and contemplated the direction that Lucasfilm is moving the Disney property in and the importance all these events play on the future of not only American society, but that of the entire world.  This is a recording that you’ll get no place else dear reader, one that is far superior to the usual Hollywood press–so enjoy it and share it with a friend.


And Happy New Year!

Rich Hoffman


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Donald Trump and Putin: Carrie Fisher’s death and the root of all success

It has been hilarious to watch the political order of our day react to the potential of a Donald Trump presidency—particularly in relation to Russia.  The assumption is that the political class on planet earth is something of a magical aristocratic entity of supreme knowledge.  Some silly businessman from New York couldn’t possibly know how to deal with Russia’s supreme leader, “Putin.”  After all, business people are “common stock” who are picked by politicians to succeed or fail in life based on their altruistic contributions to charity and events organized by the political establishment.  For me it has been excessively funny to read the many articles in USA Today, Rolling Stone, the New York Times and elsewhere as this supposition has taken place regarding Donald Trump’s reaction to events around the world.  The basic premise of every article is that Trump is not very smart and is poised to be outplayed by every player on the world stage to the disadvantage of America.

Everyone who reads here knows I am a Star Wars fan and I do think it’s sad that Carrie Fisher—the actress who played Princess Leia in the films–died essentially on Christmas Eve of a massive heart attack.  I enjoyed her character in the movies she played and I thought she was a brilliant writer—and a witty personality.  I enjoyed her appearance in The Force Awakens, but honestly, she was a broken person in that film barely able to hold a presence on-screen because she essentially had destroyed herself over the preceding 30 years.  One of the treats for me of the new film Rogue One was that Princess Leia as a nice 19-year-old young lady appeared at the end of the film which restored her reputation a bit in my eyes—and I felt this before the death of Carrie Fisher.  In the original films, Carrie Fisher was turning out to be one of those Hollywood liberal girls who are essentially destroyed before they turned 25.  The drugs and hard living as a pass around celebrity ruined her body making her into a joke by the time she was resurrected in The Force Awakens last year.  I watched her interviews as a 59-year-old and winced many times as she spoke because she was essentially a destroyed human being and she had at least enough wit to make fun of herself over it.  After all, what else was she going to do?

Carrie Fisher’s lifestyle is what killed her—it wasn’t some cruel act of fate—it was years of bad living and taking too much anti-depressant medication—being overweight, then losing weight and straining a body that was already destroyed two decades before.  It was sad to hear just prior to the Donald Trump election of 2016 that Fisher was criticizing the president-elects sniffing during the debates as if he were a “coke head” because she knew from experience.  And that she had written a book featuring her young affair with Harrison Ford attempting to tell the world psychologically that at one point in time, she was “hot.”  Harrison Ford was gracious about the whole episode letting Carrie have a fond reflection of a time when she was a 19-year-old girl sleeping with a 33-year-old married man and running around the streets of London with him in 1976.  He didn’t ask her not to do it, and let it run its course right up to the day she literally died.

As much as I like Star Wars and those actors for the part they played in the movies, I found their public comments about Donald Trump disturbing because they assumed as celebrities they knew something about the world that the rest of us didn’t.   Harrison Ford I think is a great actor, and I admire how well he has kept himself in shape, and he was fun to watch in Force Awakens because he was able to resurrect a good character he helped create over thirty years ago.  But Harrison Ford is still the idiot who gave himself an earring for his 50th birthday because he thought of it as some kind of rebellious proclamation he had earned with advanced age—and he’s maintained that earring now for over 23 years.  I am coming up on my 50th birthday soon, and I can tell you dear reader—I have no temptation of getting an earring.  That’s just never going to happen—so these liberal actors live in some other world and they constantly fail to understand their role in it.


Since Carrie Fisher’s death along with many other celebrities and their fans, those soft minded modernists who get most of their news from People Magazine, and Entertainment Tonight, are sad that in 2016 stars like Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, and many others died giving Generation X a harsh taste of mortality.  What nobody has essentially discussed was that most of those deaths occurred with a common theme of personal use of antidepressants to solve addictive personal problems stemming from poorly managed lives—and that the deaths were not so much a sad proclamation from the gates of Heaven, but just average people who faced crises and disappointments in their lives with real life blandness.  The magic of their imaginations lived through in their music and characters they played through their art—but they were not able to bring that art into their personal lives—which is the real tragedy.   The real Princess Leia would never do drugs or suffer through depression because that character would dominate those emotions and fight through them without chemical aid.  Unfortunately, most people never really get to know these people up close—to smell their bad breath, to see that they have pimples on their foreheads covered up with caked on make-up—so all they know of those stars is what they see in their art. They never know the real people.  It wasn’t that long ago where I went to dinner with a few of the members of the hit television show Beverly Hills 90210 and I was surprised at how average the girls were who were there.  They spoke and acted just like 20-year-old girls in Cincinnati, Ohio where I was from—and they had the same problems.  These are the people who make up our media culture and the same idiots who think that Donald Trump is a joke and not smart enough to deal with major problems around the world.

I had a chance to work in Hollywood, several times if I played it right—and believe me I thought about it. All I would have had to do was laugh at the stupid jokes of those same girls, pander to the intelligence of the 30-something directors and producers and not advertise my conservatism so boisterously.   I never thought it was fair, but honestly the way that culture is now you have to be a pretty superficial underachiever to make it in Hollywood because very few people of any real talent can survive unless they put their face on some really bleeding heart liberal causes—otherwise you are cast out of their aristocratic society.  Washington D.C. operates in much the same way only instead of that aristocratic society being pretty actors and actresses—they are lawyers too afraid of private practice still trying to justify the massive investment their parents spent on their college educations by hiding on K-Street where the easy money and prostitutes are.   Since I didn’t fit in any of those categories and was by instinct a person of action—I had to live authentically, and that meant that my talents needed to be the kind that people wanted to make movies about—not of the type that were about people who wanted to be people who really did things but were afraid to try—then tried to cover up that fear with lots of cocaine and antidepressants coupled with self-destructive sexual relationships.  It is harder to live real life and to a spectacular person that history will want to remember than to be some second-hander actor or politician who thinks it’s cool to get an ear-ring on their 50th birthday—because it helps start dinner conversations with other weak people at mindless Hollywood dinners.

Trump unlike all these other people and celebrities is a man of achievement—a guy who has built himself over and over again and always succeeded.  Success is not an accident—a successful person can have everything stripped away from them—they can have every hard luck issue tossed in their direction—every unforeseen death—every perilous catastrophe and they pound, and pound and pound right on through to see a successful resolution.  That is the common trait of all successful people.  They don’t hide from their problems behind alcohol or other drugs and they don’t yield to personal addictions.  They simply outwork those around them until their personal goals are met.

The best example of this that I’ve ever seen in a popular movie is from the Ridley Scott film, Gladiator.   In that film Maximus the star general of the Roman emperor had everything stripped away from him, his career, his family, his reputation—everything only to be resurrected as a slave to society.  By the end of the film Maximus had risen to the top of Roman society once again to challenge the emperor’s successor in a fight to the death—which truly captured many of the themes our current society are built upon—where does power come from?  Is it granted by the gods?  Is it really in whom you know?  Or does it come from an individual and their personal skills coupled with a daring approach to the problems which befall them?  The answer is in the last offering, everything comes from within—and Donald Trump is a completely self-made man.  The wealth and success he built came from his family and he has literally bent the will of those around him to achieve his objectives.  It took him most of his life to figure out all the elements with the help of a loving wife—his third—but the person who ran for president is essentially a person who never stopped trying and bent the world to his will.  People like that don’t have time for drug addictions and prescription medications—they self-regulate and they always have the answers because they worked hard to get them.

It is for those reasons that Trump will easily deal with Putin and every other world leader who will soon find themselves begging for the approval of the United States.  The world has literally never seen anybody like Trump before on such a stage and no, Hollywood doesn’t understand.  The media doesn’t either because they’ve been taught all their miserable lives that failures and weakness are admirable traits by the same people who are befuddled by Carrie Fisher’s death whose final claim to fame in order to sell her latest book was an affair with Harrison Ford on the set of the first Star Wars film when she was 19-years-old and still uncorrupted by drugs and bad living.  I picked my career path not because it was easy, but because it was hard—because it was more important to me to be free to live my way all hours of the day than to take any direction from the society aristocrats who think freedoms should yield to terrestrial desires for ear rings on 50-year-old birthdays.  And that is the big difference between Donald Trump and everyone else.  Some people merely reflect the actions of others and they become actors, politicians, lawyers and media people.  Others actually do things worth reflecting and that is what Donald Trump is.  What you hear from those social aristocrats toward Donald Trump is not that they think he’s stupid—even though that’s what they say—it’s that they are so weak.  They resent him because he’s everything they aren’t—but it is their future decedents—the giggling girls with pimples on their foreheads and the young males afraid of fire who will tell the stories of such modern heroes—only at a future time when history can forgive their insecurities.  But not before then.

Believe me, Trump will dominate the world stage—easily.  And the value of wealth building among the human race will increase proportionally.  Mark it on your calendar.  Hollywood and their media culture will never understand it because like the emperor from the movie Gladiator, they don’t get their power from within—but from whom they know.  And that is the difference in life between success and failure—or depression and happiness.

Rich Hoffman


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