People’s Desire for Freedom Overtakes Their Need for Institutionalism: Why the Fox Polls don’t matter and why Star Wars must turn things around

There is certainly a lot to learn from an event like the D23 Expo, especially in regard to a pop culture entertainment like Star Wars is. At that event, it was obvious that Disney and Lucasfilm in general are finally doing what they should have all along, and that is get the franchise back to what it was in the beginning, a story about the dangers of too much institutionalism and the higher spiritual essence of individualism. But why did it take so long, because the answer is of course the same one Donald Trump is asking about why Fox News has turned toward the left, and why so many politicians think that gun control is an option in the future. In the case of Disney and Star Wars, something that should have been full proof, before they came out with their version of a third trilogy, they thought they could put all these progressive themes into the movies and that people would still buy into the concept. Disney thought Star Wars was all about old puppet props and blue milk, not the excitement of a shootout in a cantina and rugged individualists cutting their own way on the frontiers of space, such as what is obvious about the new Star Wars show coming to their streaming network, The Mandalorian.

Over this last decade with literally millions and millions of dollars of payroll to work with nobody within the Disney organization was able to put their finger on why Star Wars was successful and what it would take to bring the fans back to the franchise after they had alienated them with their progressive approach to the material. At the 2019 D23 it was obvious that Disney was trying to fix that problem and who could blame them? They didn’t see all this coming, the planning for all these movies was taking place before Donald Trump was president, before the economy in America spiked off in a positive direction and before Hong Kong decided they loved America more than China. The world as they thought it would be under a Clinton presidency never happened and that has been reflected in the Star Wars movies—and pop culture in general.

Because of D23 there was a triple XP weekend on Star Wars Battlefront II, the video game and my grandson and I were having fun raking up points on the multiplayer mode. I play the game more than most people do in my position in life, but not nearly as much as I’d like and in playing this past weekend I was thinking about gun control. The reports are indicating that the video game generation of these current young people are growing up to be quite aggressive capitalists and you can see that in the video game markets. Video games especially in multiplayer modes whether its Battlefront II or Fortnite is all about rewards for the work done and video game players are coming to expect the same thing in real life. Even the most recent Madden offering is loaded with lots of unlocks and special features that you can only get to after you’ve played the game for many hundreds of hours. The socialism that was taught in schools to kids growing up in the 90s with the grunge rock bands out of Seattle are not the kids of Fortnite. The contrasts are quite obvious and finally the people at Disney are seeing it too. They have no choice if they want to stay relevant in the future of entertainment. I would argue that its too late for them, but I don’t want to see them lose the game because I think they bring a lot to the table culturally. I just wish they had listened initially when people like me were screaming it at them.

The same type of over thinkers and academic idiots who worked at Disney and thought it was smart to alienate most of the Star Wars audience are the same losers who think Donald Trump is bad for America as a president and don’t understand why he continues to survive no matter what the political left has thrown at him. They are also the same people who think that gun control is a topic that people care about. Let me say something about guns, the video game generations love guns, they think about them all the time, just differently than when I might have been a kid. These kids are playing with guns in video games all the time and they are likely to have a greater appetite for guns than even past generation did. That is something that Disney completely missed when they were setting up their new theme park attractions to not have guns, even with Woody from Toy Story. I always thought it was weird that Woody had a holster but never a gun, and Disney went along thinking that was appropriate in this sensitive age of political correctness. But Star Wars fans saw through that phony behavior as just another mechanism of institutionalism gone crazy. Its not the blue milk that people wanted to feel at the new Star Wars Land called Galaxy’s Edge, it’s the feeling of being an outlaw of the system and on the run from the “establishment.” That is the fantasy element that makes Star Wars everything it is, just as Pirates of the Caribbean was all about being a rebel and outcast from the rest of society and finding treasure and living from one raid to another.

Ultimately that’s why President Trump is president and why he will continue to be president, because that’s what real people want and the institutions of our society cannot see it for all the same reasons that all the highly paid experts at Disney couldn’t see what Star Wars was all about even though it was right in front of their faces. Human beings don’t want to hold hands and join together to live in a sanctimonious society of shared rules and regulations. They want to explore the reaches of space under their own guidance and want the freedom to live their own lives on their own terms, and that’s fine for any society that is constantly inventing and exploring. Its bad if that society is stagnant, which we all have been since westward expansion and turning places like Hawaii and Alaska into states. That sentiment does not show up in the Fox News polls or the ABC Morning News with an ex-Clinton aid hosting. But it does show up online while playing Fortnite and Battlefront II.

For a long time, giant media companies like Disney wanted to believe that they shaped culture, and that people would follow their products to the ends of the earth. What they have learned, painfully is that their influence is minimal, while they can shape opinions in the short run, the essence of human beings is rooted in rebellion and they want to feel untethered to rules as much as is safely possible. Rather media produced as movies, books or television shows should reflect the society they are offered to, not to seek to change their opinions about things like gay rights or identity politics. To do so is to gamble with something that people love and that can easily backfire as people not only learned at Disney but also in the political establishment as people continue to support President Trump no matter what happens. Star Wars used to have supporters like that, but not anymore. And its up to the media companies to learn those trends and to ride them. Not to change the waves that drive them though.

Rich Hoffman

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