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

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The ‘Star Wars’ Backlash: Disney’s choice to make progressive films has hurt their product sustainability for the future

Disney could have avoided the whole issue.  They will make their money regardless, but all the controversy surrounding their new Star Wars film The Last Jedi was completely unnecessary.  The movie will do good business in spite of a sharp drop off in the weeks after its release—but like The Force Awakens that came before it; it could have done much better.   Many will argue that these movies didn’t need to do anything—they are making more money than any other film in the history of planet earth.  But there are problems with sustainability here that are clear—especially in The Last Jedi.  These filmmakers decided to make a noticeably progressive film complete with an emphasis on girl power, the fair treatment of animals, interracial romance, and even trying to throw a bone toward the gay community by hiring Laura Dern—the girl who helped Ellen come out of the closet.  The white guys are the bad guys and everyone else is trying to climb out from under their wrath—which is the essential part of the story—so of course the critics loved it.  But the audience score is noticeably hovering at only 50% which was a stunner for many analysts in the week leading up to Christmas.  It really shouldn’t be—my thoughts about the film nearly reflect the review by Ben Shapiro below—which is sometimes very funny—because it’s true.

The original movies were conservative movies whether or not George Lucas intended them that way or not.  They were warnings of big government imposing its will on people. They were also warnings about how a group of leftists such as the Nazis could emerge in a society with “thunderous applause.”  So conservatives like myself and young Ben Shapiro tend to be drawn to Star Wars and the core message.  And yes, the Nazis were socialist radicals of a left leaning philosophy which they borrowed from the Democrats in America. That is all historically accurate, yet the modern progressive left is trying to suppress that history and attribute them all to the political right.  That mess of thought is what ends up in a movie like The Last Jedi—where all the major plot points only work because of nostalgia but all the actions of the characters seem goofy and foreign—which is forgivable in a kids film.  But these are not the kinds of stories that will be beloved for decades like the originals were.  The modern political left doesn’t know what it is or what it believes because everything they love is built on lies.  That trait is quite clear in most Hollywood productions now because the entire industry is functioning from the same neurosis.

As I said with The Force Awakens, Disney could have avoided all this by just sticking to the stories of George Lucas and the canon established by the Extended Universe.  It was all there for them—hard core fans would have embraced a new trilogy set 40 years after Return of the Jedi with Jaina Solo leading the way as the new protagonist—but Disney and Lucasfilm wanted to tell a more progressive story.  In the EU Luke had built a wonderful Jedi school that was defending the galaxy against threats even from outside the galaxy.  Han Solo was the every reliable dad who always knew best—and was a respectable grandfather.  And Princess Leia was learning to be a Jedi master.  Hard core fans would have been satisfied, and casual fans would have still enjoyed the stories for the reasons they like these new ones.  Instead Lucasfilm led by Kathy Kennedy and Bob Iger decided that gender was more important, that showing common people from anywhere could do anything was more important and that progressive concerns were the driving force of these new movies where traditionalists were the villains.  In the Kathy Kennedy movies Han Solo was a deadbeat dad who failed his son and ran away from his wife. Luke is a loser who tried to kill his student and when he failed he retreated to an island to hide from the responsibilities of the galaxy making everything that happened in the original trilogy pointless—in every regard.  So of course only half the audience coming out of the theaters like the new movie.  Critics only like the progressive elements, but the people who have been fans and kept the film franchise at the top for so long were certainly ignored—and they aren’t happy about it.

I gave up on loving these movies.  I enjoy them because my grandkids like them, and they aren’t so bad that they don’t do what good mythology is supposed to do, and that is inform young people about right and wrong.  For me just getting a new John Williams soundtrack is enough.  The music from The Last Jedi is absolutely stunning.  But I can’t help but think that The Last Jedi was the last real Star Wars movie because the modern filmmakers just don’t have it in the tank to know what made Star Wars great to begin with.  They are too liberal and really don’t understand history the way that George Lucas did and it shows in the writing.  The entire plot of Rose and Finn in The Last Jedi was a liberal diatribe on the evils of capitalism and the correct treatment of animals.  The climax of the whole exchange was to show that a chubby Asian girl could kiss a black guy after saving him from a pointless suicide mission.  All that might be fine for some show on Netflix but in Star Wars—don’t expect everyone to love the movie when that kind of obvious political garbage is being shoved down the audiences’ throat.  Sure it did what Disney wanted, and pulled great reviews out of the critics—but that only front loaded the anticipation.  When audiences got into the theater and saw all that crap, they were obviously let down—and that isn’t good for the future of Star Wars.

I won’t lose any sleep over any of it.  I’m an EU guy.  I’m trying to give these new movies a chance mainly because they are the movies of my grandchildren’s generation and I want to share these stories with them.  But they are really screwing it up for the future at Lucasfilm—and it was all so unnecessary.  I still think that Rey in the movie is the daughter of Han and Leia Solo—and at this point it’s the only thing that can really save the franchise.  I think that will be the big reveal in Episode 9.  If not that, Han and Leia Solo were the worst parents in the galaxy and all the events of the original trilogy were meaningless.  Disney could have had all the good stuff right out of the gate and gone much further if they had just stayed away from doing their own thing and ignoring the EU.  They chose to make some upfront money while sacrificing the whole thing down the road—they destroyed the sustainability of it.  And that is why there is a very real Star Wars backlash showing up in the audience scoring.  Those scores mean many millions of lost dollars and that is trouble down the road for everyone connected to these movies. They should have listened up front and not been so audacious to think they could change things and still get away with a beloved series.

Rich Hoffman

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Trump the Destroyer and Beyond Pairs of Opposites: ‘The Last Jedi’s’ message to the 21st Century

There is nothing I enjoy more than a good discussion about very heady topics.  It really is the only thing that interests me so my mind is often open to these elements when I see them.  And before everyone complains that I’m writing another Star Wars article, it would be worth the time to follow through on this one, because we’re going to talk about some important stuff.  After the dust settled on The Last Jedi—once I had seen it and considered what Disney’s role in the whole thing was, and compared all that to these really massive investigations into the FBI and Donald Trump’s institution cleansing presidency—I have a few thoughts to share to those with a mind to listen.  So here it goes.

Taken up close, there is a lot to be angry about.  There’s a lot to fix, and most of us do not understand our role in the grand scheme of things.  We can call that grand scheme God if you’d like, but I’d prefer the term Grand Fortissimo—A term I acquired after reading the Joseph Campbell masterpieces The Masks of God many years ago for which that term was applied to the steady march and consideration  of the human race—from its inception to the present.  Art after all is the yearnings and toils of the mind and the imagination which fosters it—and Star Wars was always a work of modern art presented as myth to a hungry public needing more than what other forms of entertainment typically give us.  I’m not particularly happy with the direction Disney has taken the Star Wars stories—because taken at the ground level—these new films are very progressive in their values which makes them political in a negative way.  But………what separates Star Wars from the pack is that they are rooted in very ancient mythologies which have been always trying to answer the big meaning of life questions we all seek and to get there it is the orchestral music of John Williams which takes what might otherwise be average television plot lines and elevates them into the realm of modern myth.

As I was thinking about all this I listened to the new Last Jedi soundtrack by 85-year-old John Williams and if there was ever a person on earth that has the powers of God working through him, it is that guy.  Listening to the music with no images attached, just a good symphonic score pulled from the movie is just amazing.  What he put down on paper is something that would rival Mozart or Bach or Tchaikovsky any day.  That Ahch-To them from The Last Jedi which was introduced at the end of The Force Awakens I think represents the direction of the human race in the 21st century and John Williams is quite well aware of it.  It’s fully majestic and deeply philosophical and touches on all the classic myths of our imaginations and shines a light to where we are going.  For Williams to capture all that in just a few notes is nothing short of genius.  As I was listening to that little piece in my car with the windows up and the sound turned up as loud as I could get it to go I received a notification from my oldest daughter that NASA was sending up a copy of The Last Jedi for everyone to watch up on the International Space Station.  On another notification I received the Friday box office results which was tracking The Last Jedi to break over 200 million domestically by Sunday night—which is extraordinary.  Even though I thought the surface plot of The Last Jedi was pretty mediocre—almost descending into the plot of the latest stupid Star Trek movie, Into Darkness—the deeper elements of it are actually quite sophisticated, which is a serious nod of the hat to Rian Johnson, the director.  He chose to essentially make this Episode 8 movie a modern rendition of the classic Twin War Gods Navaho legend and it is quite effective.

Meanwhile Donald Trump is shaking up the entire world of the establishment.  Liberals might see Trump as Snoke from The Last Jedi and they are guarding themselves from the First Order of his creation.  Conservatives see Trump as the Rebellion fighting against an evil faceless Empire where the Deep State has all the power and might we see in the Star Wars movies as being something worth fighting.  The main them of The Last Jedi is the motif of most mythologies that we know of, and that is to move beyond the pairs of opposites—the yen and yang life.  The cultures of our past which built pyramids understood this all too well, you pick your side and work your way intellectually up to the point where you will have to meld with all the other sides of the pyramid.  Life forces you to pick sides, but once the roles we play in the conflict of living are concluded, all sides blend at the point.  At the end of The Last Jedi what Rian Johnson has done was essentially kill all the villains to merge the characters into this concept which was pretty bold stuff.  I am pretty sure that Donald Trump is a Star Wars fan, and I’d dare say he understands what I’m talking about and he knows his role in all this is a Shiva role—a destroyer of evil and a transformer upon our culture.  I remember when the Rogue One Blue-ray came out in April of this year Trump was playing it on Air Force One while reporters where talking to him.  Trump gets it—I’m quite sure of it.  His job is to clear away all the institutional hesitation for which Star Wars is conceptually introducing to the human race a tomorrow for which we presently aren’t prepared for.  That is clearly the intention of The Last Jedi—to bring mankind to the top of the pyramids and to now move beyond—which no culture in the history of the world has done so far—that we know of.  If they have in the past, they left earth long ago.

It was just this week that Trump announced the next steps for NASA which are going to once again use the space race to spur our economy along into uncharted waters.  Within a few decades we will all have to make a conscious decision as to whether or not we want to die—because we’ll be able to download ourselves into some form of A.I.  We’ll also be able to biologically heal ourselves—so there’s that as well. We are moving toward a time where dying for the honor of our flags, or our loved ones is really going to be robbed of its merit—and what are we going to do then?  How do we live beyond the pairs of opposites—once we’ve had reconciliation with the “father” whether it’s the God of the Christian Bible or the Sun from the Navaho legend?  We must have Shiva destroy the old world and to clear away all the smoke so that we can see the top of the pyramid, then we will complete that climb and move into that next age.  Star Wars is providing a road map of thought to help us through art and subconsciously we seem to understand. Donald Trump for the world right now is Shiva—and I say that in the most positive manner.  He is working beyond the villains of Star Wars for that moment on Ahch-To when Luke vanished at the end of The Last Jedi to join Yoda in the realm of the dead—which aren’t so dead—but willing participants in the theater of life.  Very interesting.

Donald Trump and Disney without really planning it in any way are serving as the two greatest influences that are shaping our culture of tomorrow in ways that many of us today still can’t fathom.  I saw a lot of people at my screening of The Last Jedi who are full-grown adults dressed up for the movie.  This stuff is a religion to them now, and that is taking us all to places that are uncharted in the human experience.  While our political assumptions are being destroyed—rightfully so, our art is providing us with a road map to renewed self-discovery.  Star Wars is not just a movie experience; it is amid all the sex scandals and the obvious destruction of Hollywood the best and only safe place that we can still trust.  It’s all around us at Target, Wal-Mart and even in our cars.  It’s fueling the imagination of NASA which has been given wings again under Trump and where we are all heading for is that grand fortissimo I was talking about.  It may take thirty or forty more years, but we’re going to be going somewhere we’ve never been before and I think that is absolutely wonderful.

Rich Hoffman

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Jim Renacci and ‘The Last Jedi’: Liberals and their Resistance are more alike than they know

One thing that I really like about Jim Renacci’s run for the governorship within the state of Ohio is that he is very light on his feet. As he had a press conference early in the week for which the new Star Wars movie The Last Jedi was released I thought it was cleaver that he was active on Twitter tying the needs of his campaign to the pop culture monstrosity. It was a hip move that was reminiscent to the light on his feet nature of Donald Trump. The big news of course was that Renacci was partnering up with Cincinnati councilwoman Amy Murray which was another smart move—and for most politicians that would have been their news highlight of the week. But what is noticeable about Jim Renacci is that he’s very competitive, and determined to win whatever he does which is why I’m supporting him for his run for governor—to replace the docile, and much maligned closet liberal—John Kasich.

The candidacy of Renacci is actually very much in line with the pop culture for which Star Wars represents to our society at large. I’ve seen The Last Jedi, the most recent Star Wars film at an early screening and it was good of course in its own way. I understand now that I’m a traditional Star Wars guy and that these new movies, books and televisions shows will never touch my heart the way they once did—which is fine. They are fun movies that are dealing with a lot of very contemporary mythology, but nobody did it better than George Lucas. Disney should have followed the Lucas stories and stayed away from these much more progressive adoptions created by the San Francisco kids at Lucasfilm. I’ll give a little review of course once the dust settles—because there is a lot to think about. But one take away that is directly connected to the politics of our real world is that the Resistance in the movie is very much reflective of today’s political left.

I’m a Rebellion guy from the first Star Wars led by Han Solo. When Solo was a general the Rebellion won and destroyed the Empire and it was a very Ayn Rand type of embodiment. In these new movies it’s not the Rebellion any more it’s the Resistance and the new Han Solo type of character is Poe Dameron. Led completely by women now, the Resistance is very progressive and as a result they are losing. In fact, they are not only losing, but they are dreadfully inefficient and nobody in the galaxy seems to be rallying to their cause. That is a far different thing from the first movies where hot-shot pilots like Biggs and Wedge were defecting from the Empire to fight for the Rebels. In The Last Jedi, the defectors are from the Resistance. Given how politically charged our current entertainment culture is I thought it was very telling that Carrie Fisher and Laura Dern berated Poe for being too reckless and not following orders—which is ironically how people who win a lot do so—by not following orders. Then when he wasn’t in the room they commented on the fact that they only kept Poe around because he was a good-looking guy. So that’s how these progressive women like Kathy Kennedy who is running all these Star Wars movies these days see the way the world of tomorrow will be? Sexual harassment will now be dished out by the women because they are now empowered? Not that I care really, but it is a very interesting thing to watch—the hypocrisy is hilarious.

Leading up to this Star Wars movie many people who are anti-Trump including many of the production staff and actors in The Last Jedi made it clear that the Resistance was reflective of their political ideology. Without question given the number of scenes where members of the Resistance made really desperate sacrifices we are seeing essentially what the political left believes is their plight in life. They think like that FBI agent Peter Strzok who felt it was their plight in life to do whatever needed to be done to keep Donald Trump out of office—as if they knew better than the rest of us what was right. I’m a person who hates bad guys in movies, but there were a lot of moments whether it was intentional or not, that Kylo Ren was the star of the film. He was the one who had it all together and was able to achieve objectives—and to get things done. Even to the point where nice girl Rey was tempted by his power. I felt that the makers of this Star Wars movie wonderfully directed by Rian Johnson meant to say one thing about the state of politics in our current world, but ended up saying something completely unintentional—like we know we’re losers and understand why.

In the original stories by George Lucas it was the pirate Han Solo who shook off the rules and helped the Rebellion start winning again that served as the guiding light of the entire franchise. He made the Empire look like a bunch of bumbling fools outwitting them time and time again in a classic good guys against bad guy fashion. Yet in these new Star Wars movies it is the First Order now led by Kylo Ren who makes the Resistance look pathetic and weak. I know the metaphor for these modern Hollywood artists is that the First Order is the modern equivalent of Hitler or President Trump—but its not the Resistance they really adore as artists—it’s the power of Kylo Ren. It’s like a woman who says she hates men with long hair who play in rock bands doing drugs day and night then turn around and leave their nice husbands and children for just such reckless characters. There is a unique scene in The Last Jedi where it’s a kind of upside down world from the Stranger Things television show. The schizophrenia that I’m talking about is on full display here and I think they think they’ve concealed their insecurities, but at the end of the movie when there is literally nobody left in the Resistance I couldn’t help but feel that the inner fear that all members of the Progressive caucus are experiencing now can be summed up at the end of the movie. They know that the demands of the story will pull the natural order of things toward Kylo Ren in the end with Rey helping to tame him toward the needs of existence. But the story is not Rey’s, it is clearly about Kylo Ren—Han Solo’s son that was seduced to evil off the superstitions of a Luke Skywalker who thought about killing the young lad in his sleep—and then propelled him to the Dark Side out of self-preservation.

You might ask what any of this has to do with Jim Renacci and his run for governorship. Other than the fact that he used a cleaver Star Wars ad to show how he was different from his competition the candidacy is enough to stir the concerns of the real Resistance that exists in our very tangible political world. The progressives and establishment types who now look at these days of Trump and think of themselves as the Resistance in Star Wars are more correct than they know. They may get little moments of victory—like in the case of the Alabama senate race—but like the events of The Last Jedi, their numbers are dwindling down into nothing while all the resources of a vast galaxy are going to the other side. The insecurity they all face is the same as the one in that movie where Kylo Ren is supposed to be the villain—but is he really in the ways of the Force? Maybe it’s the idiots in the Resistance who are so prone to kill themselves for stupid reasons who are the real villains and that is a thought that I couldn’t help but conclude as the lights came on and the movie was over. Good guys and bad guys are really a matter of perspective definition. But………….only one side is right and one side is wrong and when nobody is left on the other side—the answer becomes obvious. What I learned from The Last Jedi is that the Force hates the Resistance. And that appears to be what’s going on in real life politics too.

Rich Hoffman

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Criticism of ‘Battlefront 2’ is Completely Unwarranted: The challenges of marketing a capitalist product to Marxist losers

Like everything else in politics the level of hate we see today and the way that people react to a little pressure can be blamed on progressive public educations which have pretty much ruined the minds of several generations.  We can see it everywhere, in our entertainment culture, our jobs, and our politics especially; we now have an entire younger generation of Millennials who have such high expectations about everything and not a clue on how to get a happy result.  The entertainment press that is largely made up of these new types of people has control of entire industries through their editorial boards and their footprints in the sand are obvious.  As I said recently in my review of the new Justice League movie, if that film had been released in a different time, it would be considered a miracle of film making.  But today it is ridiculed for not being everything that a collective hive mind could dream of—so it is picked apart by a hostile press hoping to cannibalize the filmmakers like zombies from the latest Walking Dead episode.  I mean when did anybody consider a $93 million dollar opening weekend a problem—ahead of a four-day Thanksgiving weekend where most kids are off school and can go to the theater with their parents?  I mean Justice League is going to be more than profitable for the Warner Bros. studio that distributed it—yet somehow that’s not enough—the expectations by today’s youth is that everything should always increase and if it doesn’t then there are problems.  And that was never more clear than in the recently release of Battlefront 2 and the massive controversy about loot crates which are used to increase the performance and effectiveness of the in-game characters and vehicles used in the massive online Star Wars first person shooter just released a week ago.  The article below will set the stage for just how ridiculous the situation truly is.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-11-20-lucasfilm-reacts-to-star-wars-battlefront-2-loot-crate-controversy

Even though I am normally concerned with much more serious things, I often write a lot about Star Wars and video games because both are a tremendous part of our modern culture.  Without addressing those markets and their influence on modern people, we can’t really claim to be speaking with any relevance to the concerns of our times. In that lens of thought, I find this Battlefront 2 situation very fascinating and direct evidence to the state of our world today, and where it’s going.  But before I can say any more, I have to provide my foundation thoughts on what Battlefront 2 does and is.  As an older person I have watched the industry go from little pixellated dots on the screen of an Atari 2600 to this latest photo realistic offering from Electronic Arts putting players as directly as possible into the role of their favorite Star Wars characters and situations.  I was after all up at midnight the day the new game was released to play it as close to first as possible.  The game came out November 17th yet I had pre-ordered it so was given entry to the experience at midnight November 14th. The moment I started playing it, especially the Starfighter Assault modes which put players in very ambitious dogfights with other live players set in Star Wars environments on a truly epic scale, I was in love with it.  If this game came out with just Starfighter Assault as the offering I would have been amazed, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, So why all this consternation about loot crates?

Let’s make one thing clear; the purpose of the Battlefront 2 game is to make money.  It makes money by offering a good product to a public that wants what they are selling.  It really isn’t complicated, and without the incentive to make a lot of money, there really is no reason to make such a beautiful game.  I have no doubt that the loot crate idea was hatched based on the Electronic Arts mobile app game called Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.  It’s a free game, but to really get to the good stuff you either have to play the game a lot, or pay a lot of money-getting the right in-game currency to unlock the things players really want. Like to get the proper number of shards to unlock the members of Phoenix Squadron so that you can fly the Ghost in squadron combat you can pay $99 dollars for a bundle package hoping to get what you need.  In a lot of ways it was like the days of the old Topps movie cards that we could get as kids hoping to get that very special card to collect.  In the case of the Galaxy of Heroes game, a player could literally spend several thousand dollars getting their ranking up to an elite level.  I’ve done pretty well not spending a dime, but I’ve done the work—which is another option.  Based on their internal studies at EA they know that on a game like Battlefront 2 which is much more epic and detailed than a game on a phone app, players will be willing also to spend many thousands of dollars for an elite status that gives them an advantage over other players.  That was unquestionably the original plan with the loot crates in Battlefront 2—and I personally think they are fun.  I’ve only been playing the game a week so far and I find myself wanting to earn enough credits to unlock new cards within the game so that I can boost up my performance when playing against other players.  It’s very much a capitalist system and everyone comes out well in the exchange.

The problem comes from the fact that many people in the world today have been trained to be little socialists and they don’t want to compete against people willing to work harder at something than they are, and they certainly don’t want to compete against people who are willing to “pay to win” as they call it.  There are of course people out there in the world where Battlefront 2 is their calling in life, that’s all they have going on—they don’t have a family to worry about, they may have a cushy job that pays them a lot of money—and they don’t want to waste time on girlfriends and going out into the world to play golf, shoot guns, or even spend a couple thousand dollars on an NFL game, so they spend their money on video games.  If they can drop a few thousand dollars on the Battlefront 2 game to be considered elite at something in their life, they’ll do it and that is a good offering that any video game company could propose in a product.  But the players of these games have this entitled belief that the game somehow belongs to everyone—that Star Wars as a mythological institution is now part of the collective hive mind—and it’s not.  All players are not born equal in the game world, and all people are not equal in real life.  What players are criticizing EA over, and ultimately Disney as a parent company, is that they want to get to what they want in the game faster and without having to spend a lot of money—because the base game can cost up to $80 dollars.

Now to me, it’s a bargain.  I paid $80 dollars for a steak in a restaurant recently, so I have no problem paying that money for such a fun experience, and Battlefront 2 is FUN!  I find it a mild miracle still that I can play such an epic game with players from all over the world any time of day in my living room.  If I were a lazy person and wanted to get an advantage over other players by dropping a lot of money into the game to get more of these “loot crates” I’d have no problem with that option.  I mean a box of ammunition for my .500 magnum costs $65 dollars for just twenty shots. And I go through a box or so every couple of weeks because I like to go shooting at lunch to blow off the stress of my often very hectic days.  There are plenty of people like me that EA is trying to make some money off of so it’s their job to create something in their products to be appealing to me—and getting an advantage over other people is the name of the game.  That’s life.

That’s where the communism and socialism creeps into the discussion.  Star Wars is such a big cultural phenomenon around the world these days that is truly is a global reach for Disney.  They literally have to listen to everyone to market their products to them. And of course around the world especially in Europe, India, Australia, and many other places, people don’t have much money to spend on these kinds of entertainment options.  And young people in America have been so coddled for so long that they don’t think they should even have to work at anything to be able to play a game like Battlefront 2 without being dominated by players who pretty much spend their life on the game, or have purchased in-game bonuses to have an advantage.

As a general rule I don’t look to get an advantage in games by outspending other people.  I consider it a lazy approach—even in life.  I always do the work because if you can beat somebody using inferior equipment at a disadvantage, then you are really doing something—and when I’m in my leisure time having fun, always in the back of my mind is my desire to make myself better.  I don’t do anything to just waste time.  Even playing a phone app like Galaxy of Heroes for me is a way to work my mind strategically toward objectives that are pleasurable.  I may be doing business with VIPs spending money on $80 dollar steaks, but I have no problem taking a break from what I’m doing for a few minutes to run a quick battle on my phone just for the pleasure of winning something, then getting back to work. During the first week that Battlefront 2 was released I put over 60 hours into just the Starfighter Assault mode and I’ve become pretty good at it.  I am actually killing between 8 to 20 other pilots per round—which I expect to double soon—and I’ve earned some nice loot crate specialties that have really increased the performance of my starfighters.  It’s a lot of fun and I find myself often playing the game at 3 AM in the morning.  I stayed up all night two nights in a row last week playing the game because I think its fun.  It’s not as fun as winning in real life is, but I find that by winning in simulated environments that it conditions your mind to winning in real life—where things really count.  So I still love video games whether they are on my PS4 in my living room, or on a mobile app on my iPhone.  I find that games keep you on the balls of your feet staying mentally sharp when you need it most.

But way too many people these days want to just show up and have people give them things.  They want to be equal to everyone else and they want to treat Battlefront 2 as just another game of the week.  There are so many games out there that I can’t possibly play them all.  I’d love to, but I have to pick because I’m a busy guy.  The way Battlefront 2 is designed it seeks to consume as much of your time as possible, and it plans to still be a relevant game two years from now. Ultimately its purpose for the parent company Disney is to keep Star Wars fresh on the minds of their customer base until the next movies come out.  So the companies putting out this massive Battlefront 2 game, production companies like Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, DICE and many others are always updating the content—and that all takes money.  Games, especially video games these days, are about more than just playing them, they are actual lifestyles—and that’s how they should be.  I find actually any criticism of the game by these cry baby Millennials to be unwarranted.

I personally love Battlefront 2 and I will be playing it often.  Of course my name on the game is Overmanwarrior so if you want to fight me, come and find me there.  If anybody had told me as a kid that I’d have access to something like it on a giant wall sized television with 4K definition and a Bose surround sound system to engulf my senses—I wouldn’t have believed them.  The game is a series of small miracles all culminating into quite an experience.  I think it’s beyond criticism for such a trend setting market that is still figuring out what it is.  The role these video games play in our cultural exchange is nothing short of an explosion of intellect and something Karl Marx never could have imagined.  We are literally in a whole new world—so the criticisms of Marxists, socialists and communists have no place in the discussion at all.  My advice to the makers of these games at EA, Lucasfilm, and Disney is not to listen.  Do your thing and let the chips fall where they may.  You’ll be a lot more profitable in the end, and everyone will be a lot better off.

Rich Hoffman
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Thoughts about ‘Battlefront II’: Stories told in a very impressive new way

 

On a lighter note we are living in some interesting times.  I have been very encouraged by the glimpses of the future that are emerging, especially the new Tesla tractor-trailer that has the potential to dramatically change the transportation industry.  I am a person who gets very excited when I see things come along that expand the imagination of the human race on a mass scale, like the latest Star Wars products—whether it’s a new toy, video game, or motion picture installment.  With each new addition to that fantasy/science fiction mythology the imagination of the human race is expanding dramatically.  And that has never been truer than in the new Battlefront II video game by DICE and Electronic Arts that expand the efforts of the first version of that game for all the major platform systems over what was released in 2015.  This 2017 edition is just marvelous, jaw dropping cool, and a seriously interesting look into the nature of politics and the human soul.  There are a lot of interesting things going on with Battlefront II that are indicative of some of the greatest art our culture has ever produced.

Nobody buys a game like this to play the single player campaign mode, they buy it to play online with thousands of potential people at all hours of the day and night all over the world.  People in cultures where guns are unfortunately banned can play a game like this and instantly they are playing the most modern version of cops and robbers that we all aspired to as kids, before public schools made it impossible for kids to even make a pretend gun with their hands.  Boys, girls, young and old are all thrown into these battles together and they force you to work toward team objectives to survive by heightening your individuality to the quickest reaction times and personal aptitude.  The desire to play such a game is a very primal one, and this game is certainly one of the best to date at making everything work well and allow players to just enjoy the experience.  I enjoy the ground based combat quite a lot, but it is the flight combat that I love the most.  I thought the first Battlefront was pure heaven for my personal tastes, but in this second installment, it’s so much better, better than I thought it could ever possibly be.  One of my favorite video games that I played as a kid was the Activison Star Wars game The Empire Strikes Back which was a blocky 2D Defender type of thing involving snow speeders and a constant wave of Imperial Walkers, each that required precisely 48 hits to kill unless you managed to hit a little sweet spot that sometimes appeared on the top of the shell.  So the aerial combat in Battlefront II is just beautiful to look at and participate in.  Stunning really.

But the real star to Battlefront II is their new story mode campaign that I was excessively impressed with.  Not only is it a nice story to add to the Star Wars canon fitting in with the movies nicely, but it’s some seriously good science fiction.  For instance, the Empire has a new weapon in this story which are satellites in space that fire into the cloud formations of planets to heat up the atmosphere and cause hurricane like storms on the ground to harass their enemies.  I thought that was a very interesting concept considering that this very year in real life we saw four major hurricanes hit the United States alone, three of which made ground fall as upper category storms.  Many conspiracy theorists believe our current government can do something similar to this now, so I found it interesting that a big platform game by Disney would even allow something like that into a Star Wars storyline.  But it worked and was very interesting.   Does it advance conspiracy theories or address a tyrannical problem indicative of world governments—I think it does a lot to get a conversation going about the temptation to use weather as a weapon against dissidents.   If the Romans could have done something similar, or the Nazis, they would have.  In Star Wars, the Empire does.

The other big surprise for me was a scene where Kylo Ryn was mind walking through the memories of a captor he’s interrogating.  It was a dreamy sequence that you play through as a participant and it reminded me of an old game called Shadowman—where you had to walk through the world of death to solve problems.  I thought it was very intelligent and exhibited great skill in advancing a pretty complicated story.  The game was already one of the best campaign story lines that I’ve ever played, so this last sequence was very interesting.  At that point the makers of the game I thought were just showing off.  They knew they had a great game and at that point were just putting an exclamation point on the end of it.  They could have played it safe, but then it wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie.  In Star Wars fans expect innovation and risk.  When science fiction fans watch something like Star Trek: Into Darkness we know we are seeing touchy, feeling content that is popcorn to the base fans—Star Wars seeks  to blow minds wherever possible with ever-expanding concepts—so it’s good to see that ambition still alive even under Disney control.

Battlefront II is a massive game with huge investments put into it.  Its targeted release was announced months ago for November 17th.  I preordered it which allowed me to start playing it on November 14th, three days early and I have to say, this is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had so far.  Previous winners were of course Uncharted 4 and the latest Zelda game for the Nintendo Switch.  Battlefront II is a massive game with a lot to do and it holds that massive population of a world that wants to play it all at the same time very well.  The scope of the game is so big that I saw it being advertised on the NFL website heavily last weekend, and everywhere else that Disney felt they could penetrate popular culture.  But honestly, no wonder NFL ratings are down.  People may be turned off by the National Anthem issue, or the high salaries and spoiled brat attitudes of the players, the concussion protocols, and the softening of the game to appeal more to women but with competition like Battlefront II to occupy people’s time, a passive NFL experience is pretty boring.

If you are looking for a great video game to invest in, then this is it. It is released to the general public today in time for the Holiday season and is the perfect thing to do when it’s cold outside and the days are short.   With two new Star Wars movies coming out over the next six months, the announcement of a new trilogy and the Disney parks putting the finishing touches on their new Star Wars lands there is a lot to be excited about for even passive Star Wars fans.  Even as Hollywood is struggling massively; Star Wars is still good enough to keep the industry alive for a bit longer all by itself.  It won’t last of course.  The motion picture experience will likely give way completely to the small screen and video games like Battlefront II.   In many ways the video game industry is still able to tell stories in the classic way that great movies like THX-1138 did; only participants can actually be part of the story instead of just viewers.  That’s what makes Battlefront II such a great offering, because it is truly great science fiction and fantasy that we experience typically in great literature and it puts you in the action as a participant to interact with other people, and that makes it extremely unusual.  Not so unique for the kids who have grown up with these games, but for the tapestry of human history where information is exchanged through art–this is a real showpiece worthy of a great deal of respect.

Rich Hoffman

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‘Battlefront II’ Impressions after the Beta Test: I can’t wait for November 14th

I always feel that I must apologize for covering a light topic especially when there is so much going on in the world around us, but we do have to live. We do have to manage our stresses. And we must find the things in life that make us happy, and for me Star Wars is something that works—especially when we are talking about a new video game. Then regarding that topic, I think much of the world that’s coming, the politics, the structure, the science can be seen with each new video game update from the industry because most of the engineers and designers of the future out there are playing these massive online games. While it’s true that ratings are down in the NFL and some of that is certainly due to the politics surrounding the flag, most of the change in attitude toward football in general is because of this new age of entertainment where people can live entire secondary lives online in their video game avatars. I find it all extremely fascinating, and optimistic and it helps me fight through some of the most complex problems that any one human being could be expected to fight through. With all that said, I have been very excited for the next generation Star Wars: Battlefront II which comes out in November. For a long time there was talk of a beta run in early October so I did my pre-order and signed up for the top version of the game and had marked on my calendar October 4th because that’s when the beta opened for the new game by Electronic Arts/Dice.

My first impression of the beta compared to the full game of the original Battlefront with its bright white backgrounds was that it was missing an optimism that made the original very THX-1138 fun and futuristic. The menu boards on Battlefront II were mostly all in blacks and that made it seem like a lesser quality experience to me. Because of this I was disappointed, but once I started playing the various modes I quickly forgave the game because it was a lot of fun. From October 4th to October 9th I played as much as I could and leveled up to somewhere around 10 or 11. I didn’t pay much attention as I was mostly trying to get a feel for everything. A large part of the weekend my grandson was over and we played the new arcade mode a lot. It was clearly his favorite mode and I thought was a big addition to the overall game, a way to learn the maps and get a feel for the various builds in the game. I also thought the Star Card system was much improved, it reminded me a lot of the Fantasy Flight Games board games in this way, which makes those games infinitely interesting. Bringing that Star Card aspect to a video game made for a very compelling experience and I could see quickly that I would soon spend many hours playing with different cards to figure out the best combination, and then trying them out in the Arcade Mode to learn to use them. From just what the game developers showed on their beta test, there are endless opportunities for variety in Battlefront II once the game is released in November.

Before I get too far into this you do know dear reader about the cultural significance of all this, don’t you? After all, the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer was released during halftime on Monday Night Football. And the moment that the beta ended for Battlefront II Forbes had a nice little article seen below about their criticism of the loot box system. The whole play to win debate in the video game community is a big deal because it brings many people into the realities of capitalism in ways their public educations never did. To be good at these games you must put in the hours, and the money. You can get by only doing one of those things, but to be great, you have to spend time, money and diligence to get the most out of the game. People who are from the ANTIFA crowd of course are out there playing these games and their basic philosophy is confronted with the realities of such a big business as Battlefront II is tapping into. Star Wars is just the entry point to these kinds of experiences. They become a lifestyle for many people in a similar way that adults have traditionally been in bowling leagues or played golf. It is not uncommon in the spirit of competition to get a new bowling ball or a set of titanium clubs for golf to get an edge over your rivals and that is what the loot box system does in Battlefront II. The writer for the Forbes article obviously didn’t like it. I did, my grandson and I had a lot of fun with the loot boxes. It was like gambling in Vegas, you never really knew what you were going to get and it was fun working toward an opportunity to have a chance at something cool. Games like this are all about the proper risk rewards system.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2017/10/08/star-wars-battlefront-2s-loot-boxes-seem-like-theyre-going-to-be-a-serious-problem/#1707a80a6323

For me the best part of the new Battlefront II game was the Starfighter Assault modes. It took me a minute to get used to things because they changed the mechanics quite a lot. On the previous edition of Battlefront I was one of those 50 kills per game people. I was very good at it and it was a dream come true for me to fly those ships around in space in combat situations. I can tell that I will be spending many hours playing just that mode. I would say that the new game is worth it just for the Starfighter Assault modes. As readers here know I love the Fantasy Flight Games offerings of X-Wing and Armada so putting a pilot into a scenario that is objective based around giant capital ships and individualized dog fighting is an incredible experience. Even for a beta test the frame rates were high and the details were amazing. Some of the cut-scenes were sloppy on my giant 4K television but I’m sure the final release of the game will be a major improvement on that. As I seem to say with each of these big video game releases, whether it is Uncharted 4 for the Playstation, or Zelda for the Nintendo Switch, this Battlefront II game is the next technical evolution that turns living rooms into combat zones and works our minds in ways we couldn’t duplicate under any other situation.

Probably the best improvement however on Battlefront II is the class system where there are four different categories of player. I found due to my aggressive style the Heavy Class to be most to my liking. But what’s better is that you aren’t stuck to that class for the whole round of play. If you need to lighten things up for more stealth or sniper ability you can during a round, and those strategic options are like gold raining from heaven to a guy like me who literally spends all my down time thinking of strategic options. I think of strategic options even when it comes to what grocery store to go to, so a game like this with all these random elements playing against each other is just food for my brain. So I’m really looking forward to November 14th when the whole game is released to the public. Like I said, I held nothing back on this version. I did preorder the game so I could play it with the early access. And I did by the deluxe version of it so I could get every little benefit. On the first one I came late to the game because I was made at The Force Awakens for killing Han Solo and not respecting the continuity of the previous novels. It took me a year to finally give it a shot after radio host Matt Clark bugged me about it every week for that entire year. Once I did start playing however I exploded and quickly maxed out my level at 100. There were a few weekends around last Christmas where I was off work and I played the starfighter modes for 48 straight hours—because it was that fun. With Battlefront II being noticeably an improvement on the game play mechanics, I will likely go even deeper into the game, so I am starting with the deluxe package and from there I will support the game in whatever fashion they come up with. It’s not only a work of art and technical marvel, but it’s just some of the best fun you can have from a top end entertainment system. I can’t think of a better way to live life than to blow stuff up and hear all the wonderful sounds from a Bose sound system that puts you in the middle of the most intense battles a mind could think of. I am really, really, really looking forward to November 14th. Battlefront II will be a winner and the beta was just a taste of the great things to come.

Rich Hoffman

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