Companies Aligned with China are Failing: It’s not a good idea to bet against America

There has been panic which I’ve explained before to those concerned about the amount of power corporations have.  The worry is that corporations will force us to accept vaccine passports to move around the country, that they’ll push us out of amusement parks if we don’t get woke policies, and that they’ll regulate our lives by generally denying us fun and happiness.  It is essentially the Chinese model that we are seeing play out in the opening days of the Biden administration. Companies like Disney and Coka Cola, who have global aims, have placed their bets that the way to those international markets is through the communism of China.  That is essentially the bet of the NBA, an organization made up of socialist players to go global China style.  So, they are ignoring American markets treating us like garbage because they are going for what they think is a bigger prize in the world of tomorrow under a one-world government ran by the United Nations and influenced by communism. That’s how we arrived here, but I have explained it a different way, and my bets are placed opposite of the international trend.  Those who are betting against America are going to pay for it in a big way. 

Now I love traditional Disney.  I think Walt Disney is one of the great entrepreneurs of our American history.  I have no problem sharing Disney with the rest of the world.  If Disney is broadcasting American values, it’s a great thing.  Disney the Man.  Not Disney, the corporation that woke leftists and Democrat presidential hopefuls now run.  I would offer that these new leaders of corporate Disney, Coke, and the NBA—among others—don’t know what they are doing and have over-leveraged their influence over the American population.  For instance, Disney thinks people are so hungry for their Disney+ service, their amusement parks, and their many restaurants and hotels that they will put up with crazy, radical communist policies in trade for fun.  I would offer that people reject those services in favor of freedom and that market pressures will shift away from those corporations to other options.  Such as Facebook and Twitter assumed that they would have control over the flow of information, but instead, options are erupting everywhere.  The Facebook model is now dying as we speak as well as Twitter.  Their influence is waning due to their activism against President Trump and his 70 million voters.  Disney is suffering the same fate; they are losing billions of dollars in their commitment to wokeness, and I don’t ever see them recovering.  Their decision to leverage their entertainment assets against American traditions is costing them as they speak, and the brand damage is incalculable. 

I have wanted to return to Disney World for a vacation, so I occasionally watch video vlogs of people who cover the parks in Orlando, and what they are reporting is embarrassing compared to my experiences in the past.  Disney World as a vacation spot has been one of the best locations on earth for entertainment.  Not only do they have a collection of the best rides that are anywhere, but they have great employees who carry the company message of happiness and enthusiasm for life.  But this move by the company to go full woke, to empower all the radical leftwing causes, the Black Lives Matters types, the gun grabbers, the rainbow gays on Disney characters, the transgender policies have ruined that positive employee interaction.  I didn’t help to shut down for Covid and never fully restaffing.  With the theme parks at a much-reduced capacity, waiting times excessively high only to be greeted with more and more Covid restrictions, the brand of Disney has been whittled away during the election year of 2020, and their gamble will not be paying off.  You can see it most in the many specialty shops that are closed and appear to be gone forever, the little chocolate shops and souvenir spots that are seldom ever open anymore because of the declined attendance.

This past week, Ron DeSantis in Florida removed all emergency Covid restrictions, so Disney cannot blame the government for its temperature-taking and mask mandates.  That is a liberal policy from the management of Disney as a company that wants to see central government restriction to get the payoff of a culture shift from America to China, where they placed all their bets.  And those bets are now in the multibillion dollars.  That is why they are trying not to show panic, but they look to have lost their pre-2019 market share forever.  The evidence was in the fan reaction to the Gina Carano firing from the Star Wars Mandalorian series because she came out on Twitter as a conservative.  The way that Disney fired her showed they have no idea what is driving market forces these days, and when Star Wars fans rebelled by canceling their Disney+ memberships, the company had to attempt to fix it by hiring her back, or at least to let the fans know they were thinking about it.  With Florida now without Covid restrictions, yet Disney insisting on keeping them going costing themselves even more billions by the month, there are many more Gina Carano-like concessions they will have to make in the future to attempt to regain market share.  That might help.  I might revisit the parks, but I’m not going to spend a lot of money there to see a bunch of closed restaurants, lines that are socially distanced, and having to wear a stupid mask in the hot Florida sun over a communist attempt at insurgency by the management of the Disney Company. 

That has been my message from the beginning of this woke attempt by companies to steer us into political directions.  Money rules, and they can’t cheat that vote.  People ultimately have the power over their corporations, and the best way to make them honest again is by hitting them in the pocketbook. Don’t buy their crap and watch how fast they give up their communist dreams.  They should have never listened to the China playbook.  The market share was never going to come from the East, and stealing it from America was never going to work.  It might have looked good on paper to people too stupid to ask the obvious questions.  But now, the dollars and cents are telling the story quite well.  It’s not just Disney either.  They make an excellent example because their brand is so well known and significant.  Watching them fall the way they have provides a glimpse into smaller corporations that are just as bad off but not obvious to the public.  The NBA gained popularity because of Larry Bird and the great competition with Michael Jorden.  People will be turned off by athletes taking up communist causes.  The corporations themselves do not set public policy; they are created to fulfill a public need.  And so long as they do that, they will make money.  When they think they can steer that policy, they will fail every single time.  The NBA has seriously damaged their brand, likely forever also.  It took a long time to build and only a few years to destroy.  Good luck in China, where they don’t have the money to support those types of endeavors, and they never will.  So, fret not; you have a lot more control over this wokeness than you think.  It’s already coming apart, so let it fall apart.  There are plenty of other things in life to do.  We don’t need companies that aren’t pro-American.

Cliffhanger the Overmanwarrior

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Nobody Should Care About China’s Box Office: Reaching a market of over a billion people can’t justify surrendering to communism

What I have always loved about Star Wars, aside from the obvious creativity that it takes to make the movies, is that they are in and of themselves positive stories that don’t get hung up on negativity. Yet the theme of our day is negativity, because if people are in a state of discontent they may be open to the offerings of some political class. It was probably always this way to some extent, but its really bad now, where negativity is insisted upon by certain sectors of the world, as a culture. Yet, its not always easy to see, but when something like a new Star Wars film comes out, the pop culture reaction to it is an obvious measure that we can all see and touch. And it was never clearer as to what the intentions for our society is than in reporting on the new Star Wars film, which was probably the most positive film I’ve seen by anybody in a long time, and one that certainly stands for goodness. Clearly the intent of the characters in the movie were to make clear choices about good and bad behavior. So of course the focus on the reviews was that this latest movie, The Rise of Skywalker is that it is the most poorly reviewed film since The Phantom Menace, and that it has bombed in China at that box office, see the Variety article below:’

This is why I write so much about Star Wars, the movies are very positive and defined about what good and evil should be—as any kid’s fairy tale would. That makes them as a work of art a wonderful measure about social values and the motivations of our cultural forces. Further, I would offer that communism has been the functioning plan for many years, especially those college trained as all media people are to some extent, certainly in the case of writers of these types of articles like Patrick Frater a defense of China and its communism is baked into their view of the world, and by attacking films that are distinctly American points of view, China continues on with the mission they’ve had all along and is constantly assisted by universities and their products to advocate for and against certain types of cultures. The effort becomes grossly obvious when entertainment trades make it so obvious such as trying to slam a movie as successful as The Rise of Skywalker which made over $177 million domestically over its opening weekend and will continue to do well at the box office over the long Christmas week. Especially when the news around the world that in just a few days it made $376 million globally. That is hardly anything to sneeze at, or to ignore, culturally.

The problem is one that I have pointed out often, especially coming out of Hollywood for more than a couple decades now, where Chinese companies have been buying up interests in film studios and even trade magazines. They have been trying to do to American markets what they do internally in China as communists, and that is to control everything at every level. I mean give me a break, Star Wars was beat at the box office in China by Ip Man 4: The Finale, and that is very fishy. Instead of making the story about the Chinese box office being a failure of Star Wars to reach an audience, the story is really about how China as a government controls such box office numbers so that they can protest against western ideas influencing their country, especially when the protests in Hong Kong are fueled by those same western ideas. The box office numbers themselves do not tell the story, but our media which has been heavily influenced by the Chinese even from such a far reach uses the known measurements that China controls to attempt to shape the kind of stories that are told in our culture—which the rest of the world obviously loves as they were.

I admired Disney, which is a big global company that wants to please everyone, because they allowed the filmmakers of Star Wars to get back to what made the films popular with fans and The Rise of Skywalker is a love letter back to them full of very positive storylines that don’t get hung up on negativity. The previous installment The Last Jedi was taking a turn to the dark side in all aspects and critics loved it. But the fans didn’t. As I said at the start of this article, one way to control people is to take away from them hope, disconnect them from options so that they will be forced to embrace a way of life that the controller wishes to impose. When Star Wars looked to be taking a negative “realistic” tone with this modern trilogy, critics loved the film, but when the box office diminishing returns started showing that fans were leaving, Disney had to make some decisions and listen to the fans, and return to the kind of storytelling that Star Wars has always been for people—which is not the trend of the world full of communists in China that still have global plans.

I doubt that Patrick Frater from Variety is an open communist, but I would bet that he’s likely an anti-Trump political personality and that the whispers of his college days speak to him in copious amounts, and that the roots of those whispers were sympathetic to the type of society that China has been trying to export for decades. Star Wars obviously stands against that sentiment. While in the states, Variety has been very supportive of Star Wars so long as they could view the Resistance as being anti-Trump and liberal. However, the reality is that Star Wars has always been a small government love letter and few stories in the history of storytelling has ever shown how a government can be great one day, and on the next turn into a mass manufacturer of dystopia and scandal. The enemies of American ideas I would offer are those who have also been giving bad reviews to The Rise of Skywalker. While Disney has tried to make everyone happy, especially with the ridiculous lesbian kiss at the end of the movie as if to throw a bone to the dogs, ultimately there is no way to shut out the negativity that comes from the press because the goal is to attempt to keep people from being enchanted by the positive messages of Star Wars, since it is control over mankind that is at stake.

This movie is just one more example of why China is ultimately irrelevant. Nobody can make movies culturally that China and America will enjoy together. If a film studio tries to make movies that China will like, American audiences will push it away. And if the story is too “western” then China will shut it down in their markets. This is the nature of this entire battle yet I don’t see any evidence from the trades in dealing with the issue properly. That is because they are part of the problem and when they can, such as in this Variety article, they must take down any challenges to China as a communist culture. To save Star Wars, Disney had to choose, and they went with traditional western storytelling as they should. Nobody cares about China’s stupid contributions. Its worth dropping a $100 million at the box office, which is likely what it cost. But that money will be made up many times over in the other markets before its all said and done, and Disney will be rewarded for their choice, even if the trades like Variety are rooting against it for all the reasons stated.

Rich Hoffman

What Disney Calls Magic is what Chick Fil A Calls Competency: Taking away the excusses to happiness

People have been wondering why as a grown man who could go anywhere in the world why my wife and I went to Disney World for vacation, without any kids. Well, there were a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones is something I don’t hear a lot of people talking about, but its at the core of their theme park business model, and its very similar to Chick Fil A. What Disney sells is happiness, its in their mission statement which is clear the moment you enter the property in Orlando welcoming you to the happiest place on earth. Obviously the first thing that cynical people think of in Disney are the huge expenses and the long lines, but there is a reason everything costs so much yet is so extraordinarily crowded. Its essentially for the same reason that Chick Fil A is crowded every afternoon just for selling chicken, it’s because as a company, they don’t make excuses for failure and have a can do spirit on everything, and that is precisely what people are looking for at the Disney Parks, and why I specifically wanted to vacation there. I’m a very positive person and professionally everywhere I have turned over the last year and a half was some drag asser looking for every little excuse not to do something, and it was driving me crazy. It had been time for a Disney vacation.

That doesn’t mean that what you get at Disney is happiness. I watched carefully during my vacation the other people who were looking for the same thing as me, but obviously were not so inclined to experience such a product as Disney calls “magic.” Magic is the word for it, because in reality, its only the performance of illusions, not some mystical energy created to manipulate the impossible. Magic to create happiness is a series of tricks designed to evoke in the user a feeling they couldn’t get anywhere else, but not all people are prepared to experience it. So they can go to Disney World and spend many tens of thousands of dollars, they can have their magic bands and take the shuttle from the airport to the parks without paying all the tolls on the highways between the two, and all they’ll see are long lines and misery. They’ll complain later that Disney World is all about just making a buck and is for kids as they seek some psychological distance between their present reality and any future attempt at happiness. For many people, they do not want to be happy, because there is responsibility in it, so even going to Disney World can’t do it for them. But on this trip, I wanted particularly to study Disney as a company and how they maintained their brand so I was watching with different eyes than I normally would in times past.

One thing that was obvious, and likely the key to their success at Disney was that all of their employees were taught to buy into the philosophy, like Chick Fil A. You don’t go to Disney to hear excuses about why this or that can’t or won’t happen. With them anything is possible. Any request from a customer is entertained, and it’s done so with a smile on their faces. As I went everywhere and asked lots of questions of what they call “cast members” a personality trait emerged that was part of their employee development. The customer was always right, and the employees of Disney were taught never to complain, or to let it out that they disagreed with those very valuable customers. Everything was on time; no rides or attractions were shut down because they didn’t have enough employees to operate the activities. Nothing stopped at Disney World due to massive call offs of a weak labor pool to draw from. To make the parks work magically each day, it literally took tens of thousands of park employees to make the massive operation run. If 10% of their work force didn’t show up for work on time there would be big problems in selling that happiness, yet Disney didn’t have that problem at all. The reason why is the key to the answer.

To conduct my experiments my wife and I stayed in Kissimmee and spent some time out of the park interacting with the various work cultures there to draw some long-held conclusions that I have had. In years past, whenever we went to central Florida, we would meet at the family condo over in Cape Canaveral, and a fair amount of socializing was always part of the trip. This time, we didn’t talk to anybody, we just conducted my experiment spending a lot of time at all four Disney Parks, eating and interacting with their various resorts, and crawling over every inch of their Disney Springs development. We used all their various transportation systems and even talked to the janitors who walked around the park cleaning up the trash. I purposely looked for the ugly side of Disney, any peeled paint, any decaying wood, any sign of shortcuts toward the magic illusions that Disney was so obsessed with creating. Then once the parks closed, or before they opened, we would eat and shop down in Kissimmee and the differences in culture were obvious.

We were staying only two miles from the entrance to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios the entire time along RT 192 which had a lot of great Gatlinburg types of tourist traps that I love so much. Only the employees almost everywhere we went sucked, and I mean, they sucked big time. We went to Joe’s Crab Shack which was just a stone’s throw to the south of Animal Kingdom, off the Disney property and it was obviously mismanaged in a terrible way. It took 15 minutes for someone to even ask to seat us, even with most of the place full of empty tables. Then we were told it would take an additional 15 minutes to seat us. When I asked why, they told us that they had a few call-offs and that they were running behind. Disney operates hundreds of restaurants, hotels, rides, and other vendors and I don’t think they would permit any of their employees from making such a ridiculous statement. Why would a business make their mismanagement problems the problems of the paying customer? Its an absurd concept, so we left Joe’s Crab Shack and looked for other options. And we found the same behavior everywhere else, including a Cracker Barrel

Our hotel had half dead slugs running the place, the room cleaners kept forgetting to give us new towels, coffee packs and whatever we asked for because they were not engaged in maintaining our happiness. They were just going through the motions like the rest of the world. Disney by contrast didn’t permit such excuses and that was obviously part of what they called magic. From the airport in Orlando to the surrounding establishments around the Disney World property, the contrasts were obvious, and a key to the success story. It really came down to a management decision to take away the excuses of unhappiness. If people wanted to see the strings and hidden chambers of the magic show, they could. But Disney would not be responsible for it. Their whole thing was to take away the excuses to be miserable. If people chose to be miserable anyway, that was on them.

I am one who likes to be happy, so it didn’t take much for me to enjoy that level of competency. In such a “can do” culture it doesn’t take much for me to respect such a thing. The cast members no matter how important their roles were in the customer experience held to the company motto and it was obviously successful. It shows what can be done when a company has expectations from their employees to behave a certain way and to ensure that the customer experience from their side is positive and excuse free. And in that, there are lots of lessons for the outside world to come to grips with, which is precisely why I chose this vacation over other options, which I’m glad I did.

Rich Hoffman

The Great Work of Disney Imagineers at Disney Springs: Every zoning board in America should pay attention to the good work there

One of the things I was most curious about, regarding the Disney Springs renovation from what used to be called Downtown Disney, to its present form, was why the Imagineers felt they had to create a fictional back-story about what is essentially a shopping and entertainment destination. I have always loved Downtown Disney and when Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012 I had a strong feeling they would do good things with the Indiana Jones property and was excited to see what it might be. I was a little surprised that the creation of Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar was one of their first projects so upon landing in Florida during a recent vacation it was the very first place I went. I couldn’t wait to get there as I had been watching the re-construction of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs for much of the last decade and I had to see, smell and touch everything.

My point of reference for these kinds of places is Atlantis from the great book Atlas Shrugged, the kind of world that if human creativity was left alone to do its thing, what kind of great things could we make. The closest I can think of anywhere in the world is the Disney managed properties of Disney World, for which Disney Springs is a part. I don’t care that things are so enormously expensive there, because like the book Atlas Shrugged, the value for money and any other currency is in the product themselves. Disney sells happiness, and if you have enough money, you can buy some. Their Imagineers are happy to give you happiness, so if you can afford it, you can purchase for yourself. But its not free. So using that as my guide, I was delighted to visit the place and compare it to other places around the country that I admire, particularly a shopping complex in my hometown called Liberty Center which I love quite a lot.

But what mystified me, even as a person who understands the importance of mythology in everything, is that Disney created this fake backstory about Disney Springs and even Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar and that as guests we were supposed to accept it in the same way we might accept some reality from the theme parks they are so known for. In fact, just about every new hotel and construction experience on the Disney property in Florida these days has some kind of made-up backstory which I found perplexing until I visited the place for myself. Even watching the construction updates from a distance for several years really couldn’t bring context to the effort until you physically visited a place like that.

Upon seeing the creation of the springs at Disney Springs I understood immediately what the Imagineers were going for, its what I would call a “conceptual faculty,” the ability to see an abstract concept in your mind so that you can bring it forth into a reality. By creating all these back stories for stores and restaurants at Disney Springs the designers were able to use mythology to elevate the construction and its psychological impact on the consumers. Normally it would be up to the companies who become tenants at such a place to set the tone of a project, but in this case the backstory of the concept allowed all participants to align the scope of the project to a unified vision, and it was pulled off brilliantly. For me it was quite a magical moment to spend the afternoon in Jock Lindsey’s looking at all the relics from his past in chasing Indiana Jones all over the world and to stroll a few short steps from that front door to the fantastic springs of Disney Springs with all the commercial activity situated around it.

The thing that struck me most about Disney Springs is that in no way in the world would any zoning board trained at today’s colleges approve such a plan and allow an entertainment district like Disney Springs to be built along the many natural springs that are found all over Florida. The political bureaucracy would be mind bending dull and laborious. It just wouldn’t happen. So to sidestep that little problem, Disney Imagineers just created their own lakes and springs so that commercial development could take place around it, and the result would be spectacularly beautiful. The result as I could see it was essentially John Galt’s Atlantis where great creations from great people were on full display without the imprint of local and state governments regulating fun beyond recognition. That is largely because Disney controls what happens on their property to the most extent that any modern company could. I don’t think it would be possible to build something like a Disney Springs off the Disney controlled property due to local regulations picking it apart until there was nothing left.

Even at Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars land which I will be talking about alot, the backstory that was created for it as a project gave the Imagineers something to build to, a way to conceptualize the project and overcome whatever problems came before it. Such a method of approaching a construction project had really improved Disney Springs since my last visit and the overall approach of the entire network of theme parks. This point hit me hard while traveling on the new Skyliner system of gondolas that are now connecting Hollywood Studios with the Epcot Center. Many of the hotel complexes that had been created recently along that gondola path all had similar backstories as were used to create Disney Springs and the elevated mythology had propelled the scope of the projects to a much higher level than would have otherwise been achieved using traditional building methods at the development stage. This ability Disney has been using with its Imagineering department to help guide all their construction departments had yielded results in the final presentation they wouldn’t have achieved any other way.

To that effect I was greatly impressed by the work at Disney Springs. I would say that the complex alone would deserve its own vacation destination, but for me it was only one very small part of my trip experience into enjoying the fantastic work of the Disney Imagineers. Locals obviously were taking the place for granted, but it was clear to me that what was happening there was very unique. It would be great to see other places utilize the same methods to push up their own projects to such bold levels. Like John Galt’s Atlantis the mind of mankind has shown time and time again that it can do better than nature, and if nature is in the way, that we can simply build over it and do a much better job. As a company I’m sure Disney wants to appease the climate activists, but clearly as an organization their ability to put story before sentiment has helped their creative people in the Imagineering department do things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. The results are obvious and very exciting. Even if I was a little skeptical, it quickly became clear that this approach was something everyone should be doing, and it was a wave of the future that was not so obvious except in seeing the results firsthand.

Rich Hoffman

The Magic of Disney Imagineers: Enjoying a world where creativity is unleashed and money is not an obstical

For me, the most enjoyable parts of life come from cultures that are “can doers” as opposed to those who use every excuse in existence not to do something. Whether its family, friends, co-workers, political alliances, or just basic economic considerations, I enjoy most what can be done and hate the most when people point barriers as to why something can’t. That is why so many of my articles are about taxes, politics and prohibitive psychology. The people I like most in the world are those who find ways to do something. Those I like the least are those who must be drug through the mud on everything, whether it’s a movie, buying a new car or house, or just going to the shopping center to purchase socks or something iniquitous toward daily life. Therefor, when it comes to my own needs to recharge my batteries, I find places full of energy and creativity the best for me and is my idea of a vacation. And more specifically, I love the type of people that the Disney Company hires as Imagineers, very imaginative and whimsical people who are also very smart on the engineering side of things. I enjoy the products they create and is my idea of a vacation to see their work.

With all that said my two favorite kinds of people are very creative types, and engineers, very smart and logical people. Sadly, for me, those traits often don’t exist in the same people, so I have to speak to a lot of people to get all those elements in my life. But in doing that, it takes time away from other things, which for me there never is enough of it to give. I fly in and out of meetings with people because there is always something going on that I need to do and in my own pursuits of these creative things, it’s a lot like digging for gold, you put a lot of effort into getting just a little bit. However, at places like Disney World, the reason things cost so much money ultimately is because the entertainment company tends to hire just the kind of people I have said I like the most and over the last decade, under the guidance of Bob Iger the Disney Imagineers have been given a lot to do and I enjoy watching them do it.

I think Bob Iger as the CEO of Disney has done a great job and in many ways I am thankful for him and the chances he has taken to advance the input Imagineers have had on the company. I’m not at all crazy that Iger is a Democrat. For this series of articles, I won’t hold that against him because he has made some great decisions to free the type of people I am talking about up so that they could do the best work possible. So for my vacation this year I have been at the Disney World complex in Orlando which I make no mistake in loving as I’ve said many times in the past. But this time the scope of my visit has been to enjoy the work of the Disney Imagineers in the way that one might enjoy the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or any other place where great creativity is on display. I consider the work of Disney Imagineers to be far better and superior to other acts of human endeavor and capitalism is the fuel they have to create such fantastic attributes. So under that definition, I have always loved Disney World and that is an emotion that grows as time advances.

I timed my visit to the parks this time to match the opening of the new Rise of the Resistance ride at Hollywood Studios and to enjoy the new Star Wars land that its in called Galaxy’s Edge. But its more than just geeking out on Star Wars, for me its all about the Imagineers who have been turned loose by the Disney Company to make so many great creations over the last decade that I have been so excited to see on a whirlwind trip that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Disney+ the new streaming service showcasing the many products of Disney over the years has a great show they produce dedicated to their Imagineers which I would highly recommend watching, even for a casual observer. If the world had more people like those Imagineers in it, everything would be better. And in spite of my thoughts on how the Disney Company has handled Star Wars, by introducing way too much social justice into the franchise and pushing it to near ruin, the vast financial resources that Disney has can not be understated in giving their Imagineers the time and money to make some of the neatest creations on planet earth, which I think is far more significant.

So this vacation of mine has nothing to do with rest and relaxation, or unplugging from the world, its all about relishing the products of raw creativity and vast amounts of financial resources. For instance, the new Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios and the park in Anaheim, California cost around $1 billion. No company on earth in any country could do something like that, so I can think of no place anywhere to visit that is better for my purpose, and that is to enjoy as much Imagineering created by raw capitalism that could be found anywhere. And for me, the first stop was to the newly renovated Disney Springs shopping complex where a bar was dedicated to one of my favorite movie characters of all time, Indiana Jones called Jock Lindsey’s Bar and Grill. I literally got off the airplane at the Orlando airport and headed there first because it’s something I’ve been wanting to see for a few years now.

The restaurants and shopping district of Disney Springs is what I would call a perfect marriage of the kind of world we should have everywhere. Because of the way Walt Disney bought the property in Florida, they have their own central government which helps with their regulatory burdens. When they need to fix a road or get a permit for a new building, the amount of land they control has given them their own governing ability, which keeps the bureaucracy to a minimum. A place like Disney Springs would not have happened any other way, and certainly nothing like Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar would have never been born from the minds of Disney Imagineers. But its not just that, all around the complex the input of the Imagineers is everywhere, most spectacularly in a recreation of the kind of springs that are so popular in Florida as the centerpiece. It was spectacularly beautiful and in a lot of ways much better than nature itself. The marriage of so much creativity with corporate capitalism at Disney Springs is something that was just wonderful in so many ways, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be to recharge my own batteries.

Politicians and other bureaucrats in any community anywhere in the world would find a million reasons not to build something like Disney Springs. And that is just the reason I love going to those types of places, because the level of creativity and the money to spend on it is so abundant, it is great to see what the human mind can produce if only they are allowed to. And in no place in the world are imaginative engineering types even employed, let alone turned loose to create so many fine works of art for the purpose of entertainment. And in our American culture, that is something to cherish, and to provide plenty of reverence, which I do.

Rich Hoffman

The Mandalorian: One great show on Disney+

So the Mandalorian television show for Star Wars showing on Disney+ continues to impress me and make me very happy to have the new streaming service option as part of a massive collection of entertainment options. At this point there have been five episodes and its quite clear that the creators understand what Star Wars is all about, even if critics are still mystified as to the magic. Most people love the show, many of them like it. I have yet to hear from people who hate it. Critics in the industry continue to measure “greatness” by the amount of social justice in any entertainment product, and Star Wars has never been about that. When Disney has tried to make social justice part of the experience, Star Wars fails. And that is not the case with The Mandalorian. I wouldn’t say that Episode 5 was my favorite so far, but I do love the title, “The Gunslinger.”

It was fun to travel back to Mos Eisley spaceport on Tatooine from the original Star Wars movie and see the cantina, the Dewbacks, and the docking bays that originally started us all on this massive journey. This particular episode reminded me again of many of the great westerns that I grew up loving, specifically in this case, The Unforgiven with the stupid young kid playing off the much more experienced gunfighter. Critics keep providing a disclaimer that this series is Saturday morning cartoon material, and more specifically, Saturday morning matinee material which George Lucas grew up on. OK, so what? That’s what makes this kind of entertainment so special. That’s how Star Wars was born to begin with, so its not surprising that the creators are trying to get back to the roots of what makes the brand so special. Sometimes its good to tell a story without trying to change a public narrative, but one that reflects the one we have. Disney has certainly listened to the fans even if the industry is still trying to scratch their heads at why returning back to Mos Eisley was so much fun for fans.

I think its great that female directors are working on The Mandalorian. I thought Bryce Dallas Howard did a great job with Episode 4, brilliant even. It doesn’t matter to me if the director is a man or a woman, what matters is if the content is good, and with this show, it is. So long as nobody tries to turn the show into something that its not, The Mandalorian will continue to be a hit. I found myself looking forward to this latest episode all week and its been a very long time since I’ve had that experience, especially these days with all the on demand content that you can binge watch. Having a show that is this much fun to look forward to after a long hard work week is a wonderful thing to have, and I must thank Disney+ for giving it to us.

What is unexpected by me at this point in the show’s run is the popularity of Baby Yoda which is all anybody who is anyone is talking about. The little creature from The Mandalorian is taking over the internet and people are falling all over themselves for a chance to get the first merchandise that goes on sale. The Mandalorian is a cool show, so it’s a bit odd that such a cute character that so many people love has come out of it is the surprise. At this point in the season I wouldn’t have guessed that so many people would be talking about it. I would say the character is so popular that if we put Baby Yoda on the ballot for the next presidential election, that he’d win. That is the state of our political life these days, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

The value of something from a scientific perspective is whether or not its fun. In a society of thinking human beings, we all need a little fun in our lives, and anything that gives that to us is a tremendous benefit. Having fun gives us the ability to set perspective and manage stress, so in that regard, The Mandalorian is better than just a show, it’s a wonderful stress management tool full of big ideas as this gunfighter/bounty hunter travels around a galaxy in a cool starship and interacts with all kinds of challenges without getting too emotional. That makes these shows fun and a great relief from the mundane outside world that is addicted to problems and stagnant thinking. So far, The Mandalorian never seems too far from a solution no matter how great the problem has been. In this Episode 5 The Mandalorian gets into a dogfight in space with someone trying to collect a bounty on him, and his ship is knocked out stranding him. He doesn’t panic and cry to his mom, he just calmly fixes his ship and gets going again. Traditionally, that is what the Saturday morning serials did for young people, show them how to deal with tragedy with a kind of bravado that made all their normal problems seem small, and in that way, solutions were easy to find.

Everyone in entertainment could take a lessen from The Mandalorian. Nobody says that a good show must have a huge budget and a bunch of cry baby characters to be good. Just giving the audience what they are looking for is the most important thing. Nothing about The Mandalorian is trying to be the next critically acclaimed show, it’s just having fun being what it is and its kind of strange to find that so refreshing because when I was growing up, most everything that was produced had that kind of whimsical quality. Most of the time, the best things are the things that critics don’t like, because many of them have some social agenda they are trying to steer creative people to, such as social justice concerns that are here today and gone tomorrow as a political priority. The things that matter most to people are things that last no matter how politics are aligned.

If Disney keeps up this kind of production I will be firmly in their camp. I have been skeptical about them as a company as they have been way to political for me, even as recently as Frozen II. I am very much a lover of traditional Walt Disney productions, and this Mandalorian title and the direction of Star Wars recently gives me hope that we can get back to that kind of story telling and cultural reverence. But I’m bound to like anything that has the title, “The Gunslinger.” Kids need a lot more entertainment like that, the values extend deep into our culture not just into our past, but for our future. But heck with the kids, I need more of this, and apparently so do many other fans of the show. Baby Yoda is cute, and it makes the show better. However, what makes the show good is that its fun, and its not afraid to take some chances which is why I look forward to it all week long, and watch it at my first available moment every Friday.

Rich Hoffman

How to Kill a Bear: Disney+, Congressional Impeachment, and a Metrosexual invasion caused by our education system

I was reminded of something while watching the old Davy Crockett shows on Disney+. While its obvious that Disney has been part of the problem lately regarding social justice, and that disclaimer certainly comes with their views on some of their older products, like Crockett, they do have a vast body of work that has been very good and now that they are all in one place, its been very enjoyable for me. I have been able to go back and watch the old Zorro television shows and other wonderful, old fashioned stories from a one stop shop reconnecting me to many of the good memories of my childhood. Yet even then, as a child, my thoughts were out of step with the rest of the world. Not that they were wrong, just out of step. In Sunday school, which I attended most of my youth along with church most Sundays, I always skipped the line about Jesus Christ, “we are weak, but he is strong” because that was never my plan, even as a five-year-old. But in the first episode of Davy Crockett from the Disney television show where he single handedly wrestled a bear and turned it into “table meat” with his bare hands—well that was something I could admire. And I did as many young people did.

My thoughts about public education go back to the very beginning. I hated it from day one of my very first hour in kindergarten and I never warmed up to it. I would describe my experience as a kind of Papillion complex where I felt imprisoned and intent to wait out my enemies with sheer endurance. But conversion over to their way of thinking was never on my radar, nor was compliance to their stupid rules and modes of thinking. I can’t say that my parents did anything to me to make me think this way. I’ve always been a very private thinker with a lot on my mind and the very first hour of public school with a bunch of other lazy minded kids was not pleasant. Nor being told that I was expected to limit my own growth to their parameters. The result of that was that I grew up always in trouble because compliance to a norm was the parameters of success and honor, which I never accepted.

My parents ground me from everything I enjoyed which only made matters worse. From their point of view they had to get me compliant to the social norms of kids my age so I spent most of my youth grounded from television and other things kids do, because of all the trouble I had at school. I was allowed to read books so that was what I did. But when I wasn’t grounded and could watch television with the family, shows like Davy Crockett and other great old westerns were things I soaked up for all I could get before my teachers would call my parents again over some disciplinary action that would put me back into solitary confinement again. When I could drive a car and get away from all those restrictions I did, and in a big way. I’ve told the stories elsewhere, but I drove everywhere very fast. I got into a lot more trouble legally by almost every county in southern Ohio but I had no regrets. I’m proud to have survived it all with my mind intact. I would say my situation is very unusual, but the sentiment is not uncommon. Most people have thoughts of such a preservation of their intellect, but along the way they get broken by the compliance track. And now as adults they know of nothing else and it is destroying the world in ways that I’ve been warning about my entire life.

Watching the impeachment hearings has brought all this up in a raw form because of my ruthless dedication to the cause. I joke about an invasion of metrosexuals but even so, it is clear that they are numerous and were raised to think the way they do from our very deficient education system. Some get out of it alive, but most don’t and it’s getting worse. You get a stable measure when something like Disney+ comes out and you can see what people used to value as opposed to what they value today, and the cause of that difference is the influences kids get as a youth. If the entertainment culture and education system are all saying to conform to some rules and regulations that were created by bureaucrats to impose order as opposed to freedom of thought, then the result will be obvious, and we are seeing it during the impeachment trial.

Women have always had it in their DNA to be something of a compliant figure. Their biological job has been to give birth, and nurture that family. Anything away from that is a matter of human invention created by political movements, not aligned with human biological need. They’d look to their husband, their social network, and their larger regional identification for the rules to raise their family within for the sake of their children’s safety. Even now they are the helicopter moms that are putting pillows next to their kids to break their every move from the possibility of danger. With that being said, men were the dynamic influences that balanced out danger from safety. Danger is always a good learning opportunity especially if the goal is to become more individually independent, which all minds yearn to be in some way or another.

The trend of public education was always to built compliant people, not necessarily thinking ones, and that is most obvious by the actions of this current congress and the media dialogue that is spawning off it. People not broken by their pasts are not buying into it, but for those who have yielded to the pressures of their youth, they are obviously lost as to how a president like Trump could act so easily on his own and think so confidently in his own thoughts. That bewilderment is the root of their entire case and it really goes back to the kind of thinking where Davy Crockett killed a bear with his hands all by himself. Today’s metrosexual male trained in the ways of the tyrannical public education system would have to get a group of people to build a concession plan as to whether or not to kill the bear, and while doing so, they’d have to plan how to do it. By the time they would get to actually killing the bear the creature would die of old age. And that is the expectation of our education system. To destroy the ambition to kill bears with one’s own ambition and skill, and turn all individuals into a compliant blob where nobody can do anything without anybody elses’ permission. It is the same kind of thinking that went into building the United Nations. Nobody goes ahead of any others. Nobody has more or less and in that way, there will never be any conflict. But at the expense of progress.

Young people no longer have such influences of Davy Crockett to tell them that maybe they could grow up to kill a bear with their hands alone, but the message is that they are chained to their neighbors and community members and their limits. And that we should be happy to reside there unquestioning. That is why congress thinks they can turn the message of the impeachment attempt against President Trump, because they trust that system so much that they assume it will work. But what they fail to realize is that even though many people have been intellectually broken they still have that deep fantasy as people of being free of that burden and Trump offers through his brand a release from that prison. And that is what our modern political movement is based on. People are rejecting that education system of compliance. While some have found success in learning the rules and being nice compliant shrimps such as these metrosexual types, most are resentful of the intrusion and they escape from the rigors of life to their televisions where Disney+ now has so many offerings. But among them are not the progressive garbage of our modern age, but of the traditions that made Disney such a great company to begin with. And that is something that can only be good for the vast amount of minds imprisoned otherwise to faulty modes of thinking, and providing an option they have desperately been in need of.

Rich Hoffman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rich Hoffman

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The Black Spire Outpost–the roots of genius

Most of my readers are over 50, but I do have quite a few that are under that number and they are likely as excited as I am about the opening of the Black Spire Outpost in Disneyland, which happens next week. That is of course the new Star Wars Land called Galaxy’s Edge which is finally opening after Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and now six years later is about to be opened. I had a lot to say on the matter back then and just as I hoped, it will prove to be not only a technical marvel, but an important contributor to human mythology. Additionally, it centerpieces an enthusiasm for the imagination which I think is critical to the production of genius in our culture. A free roaming imagination has many safe places in the Star Wars stories, so being able to actually visit such a place with all the authentic detail that fans and just park goers can share with this new Disney contribution to the live action myth building that they are so well known for is a really exciting enterprise. So for the sake of people thinking of visiting it in the weeks to come, or over the course of this upcoming year the video below is a good place to start just to get the basics of a successful visit.

As many also know I have a small obsession with the concept of genius and growing older to me can be a blessing if the elements of childhood have not been lost in the process. However, I view most human beings as being at their peek around the ages of 6 to 10. After that, most of us slowly decline over time. We may gain more responsibilities and wisdom, but usually it’s at the sacrifice of thoughtful imagination and wonder. Being older of course has more fiscal opportunities, but I sort of drew the line at 50 because at that age people become much more reflective and my readers come here to think about the things in their life that they neglected before getting to an age where its too late to change anything quickly. Most of my fans don’t want to leave the world worse off for their children and grand children so they start thinking of politics and what they can do to help.

Unfortunately, everyone under 50 is mostly concerned with social statuses and where they fit on the pecking order of existence where it is generally accepted that elected offices are something that most people don’t want to think about. Rather than talking about politics they reside to the safe topics of sports and grilling hamburgers or steaks in their back yards. It continues to amaze me how much conversation is generated among people in this age group, between 30 and 50 years of age about grilling out in the back yard. And these same people detest any talk of politics, because they fear it will harm their climb up whatever social ladder of influence they are concerned with navigating. Then of course there are the people of the previous twenty years, from the ages of 10 to about 30 that are nearly obsessed with their newly turned on sexual attributes. The race to find a mate to have children with, or to just use sex as a tool of manipulation and control becomes their dominate thinking. Watching all this from my perspective is disgusting and I never accepted any of those social gates. Instead my mind has always been more on books and other mythic entertainments because those were the values of my youth and I never let go of them. And I see quite clearly that the path to genius is through retaining that child-like “Peter Pan” element of perpetual curiosity.

Star Wars is a great vehicle for refining that genius. Some of the smartest people I know are comic book geeks and pimple faced readers of Star Wars books. Most of these people are extremely overweight and don’t get out in the sun much, but they don’t care. They have made decisions to not care about their places in the pecking order of our civilization and they get made fun of for not participating. But most of these people are extremely intelligent and rather childlike. It’s a shame that they are so stigmatized in society because they could bring to the world great things if only, they cared to participate. But the world to them is often a disappointment and nowhere near as exciting as the Star Wars stories they read about and enjoy in the movies. But that trend has been changing and places like this Black Spire Outpost is the latest effort to allow people to revisit their childhood hopes and to actually put their hands on what used to be only a fantasy, and I think that is a very good thing.

Star Wars was and has always been very political. After all, if there is a war, there must be something to fight over and those stories often reflect the politics of our day. As much as people think of George Lucas, the creator as a hippie of his generation concerned over Watergate and the Vietnam War, I see in him a pretty conservative hot rodder who came to age through racing cars and learning to work on them who also had an active, very childlike imagination, which is why Star Wars turned out to be so special. And so the seeds for the Black Spire Outpost were born from the burnout smoke of his race cars and a keen interest in anthropology. Unlike many filmmakers these days who are obsessed with film trivia George Lucas made Star Wars from a perspective of genius by carrying with him into adulthood the hope that most young people have, that they may have the opportunity to change the world as an individual.

Of course, genius doesn’t stay with people. It can be lost in a puff of instant smoke. Once the values of genius are lost, people usually revert back to some biological timeline of age ward progression. But it doesn’t have to be that way and every time a big amusement park land like the Black Spire Outpost comes on the scene it reveals some of the best elements of our culture. And that excites me greatly as I enjoy the enthusiasm that comes with such ambitions. This particular creation at Disenyland is a huge cultural element that when I was a kid wasn’t even thought possible. I remember going to Universal Studios in Hollywood and looking forward for months beforehand to see the full-sized star fighters from the television show Battlestar Galactica—the Colonial Vipers. I think it was one of the most exciting things I had seen as a young person and I never really forgot it, even though the thing was just a prop from the television show’s set. To be able to see the Millennium Falcon sitting in a free state and to be able to actually ride it in an active way is extremely exciting and we can only imagine what impact that will have on future generations . One way or the other, the opening of the Black Spire Outpost is a very significant cultural event that will likely have long standing consequences for the better. So for those planning to visit, enjoy it! It is truly something special!

Rich Hoffman

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The Hope of Comics

Even though it’s not why I do it, because in the beginning I considered this blog to be a fun extension of my life and my many interests, it has become something bigger and much more literate. And with that come judgments from people who just aren’t very intellectual presently, or perhaps never will be which I consider worthless. The difference between me writing these many articles for myself, which I have for many, many years and sharing them in the form of a blog is that in the back of my mind I hope to help people realize that there is more to life than what they are presently living. I think by any measure I am a very well-balanced person and an excellent thinker. True, I could be another Alex Jones, I certainly have interests in that direction, but I could also be a sports star, or any number of things. But what I am is a lot of things and I like it that way. And I share those things with my audience purely for the sake of their own uses, certainly not mine. What I do for myself is know that I am trying to help people live better and more authentically, and when the refusal of that offer is openly rejected I do get mad about it. I don’t force people to do anything and they certainly shouldn’t expect such a thing from me. The things I do object to in life however is anything that leads to below the line thinking and when I see such a thing I do get pretty vocal about a need to rebel against it erupts. But sometimes even for me the disappointments about how people choose to live and paint themselves into a corner gets to be too much and on those moments I give myself a breath by going to my local comic book store.

As I’ve said before, I like every sport there is. The reason I didn’t enter professional sports as a young person was that while I liked the objectives of winning, I didn’t like the compliance of building a team. I always related more to the coaches than the players and the elements of leadership so sports took up too much time and there were too many social stigmas about what success or failure meant and I had other things I wanted to spend time on. But I’m certainly not one who is an either or person, either the life of a jock or the life of the geek who hangs out in comic book stores avoiding life while others chase balls around and get headlines in the newspapers because of it. Those divisions were always absurd to me and still are. I enjoy reading all types of things, including comic books. They are usually full of ambition and the artwork is usually very energetic.

So it was with that zeal that my oldest daughter, my youngest grandson and my wife went to two comic book stores on Saturday which was a combination of Star Wars day and free comic book day. What I really wanted was the new comic about the new Star Wars land at their theme parks called Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve always been a Han Solo guy so I am quite excited that the plot of the new land was featuring him and that it was highlighted in the new comic, and I wanted to get it. I can’t recall the last time a theme park decided to tie modern mythology in this way and I found it very interesting. So for the history of it I wanted to collect it for reflection 50 or 60 years from now in the future. I was also curious how Disney would attempt to tie all these media platforms together into a big unified story.

Much to my surprise they were sold out of the Galaxy’s Edge comic that I wanted at the first comic store, but otherwise it was a very bustling place. I didn’t see any kids there, but a lot of adults and they were all talking quite vibrantly about various comics, the recent Game of Thrones episode, the Avengers climax with Endgame and the upcoming Cincinnati Comic Con which my other daughter is planning to attend as an exhibitor. I couldn’t help but wonder if Socrates ever thought for a second that any culture on earth would have so much mythology produced and that people would gather in a comic book store to talk about them with such passion. I am encouraged by such places, they often restore my thoughts that people are worth saving when I read comics and see the bold desires there that are unfurled by obscure artists revealing their hopes and dreams through fantastic characters that are translated onto colorful pages full of art. There was more art produced just in that one comic book store than the entire Renaissance period of Europe, which I think is every bit as good.

We ultimately had to go to a comic book store in Mason to get my Galaxy’s Edge comic. I picked up far more than I had planned to and I enjoyed reading them later while I watched the Reds game on television and for me, all was right with the world. But more than anything I enjoyed the people. There were a lot more people participating in the free comic book day events than I would have thought which led to a lot of contemplation for me. My daughter and I discussed it over lunch. Her generation has grown up in a lot of hapless situations. The political system has let them down, their educations were a joke, their parental structure often broken. It was in their last hopes for participating in mankind that they go to the comic book store looking for heroes to believe in. Some people would say they were escaping from reality, but what I saw was that it was for their own good. Their love of comics was a survival mechanism to the disappointments of life and I saw in all those people a desire to not just accept a “bla” existence, but to at least learn through the mythology of fantasy characters that there was more to the human experience than just accepting defeat then eventually death.

To say I’m excited about Disney’s new Galaxy’s Edge would be a severe understatement. I read the comic pretty much in the car on the way home because I couldn’t wait to see how everything would be tied together and I was happy with the ambition of it all. I personally needed the break in thought myself. For me it’s never about going backwards. When I get disappointed in the ambitions of the human species, I too look for reasons to feel good about it all again and comic book stores do it for me. They are filled with hope not just in the artists who produce the content, but in the participants. In all their geekdom, they are essentially out for the same thing that the baseball player is, or the golf enthusiast, or Fantasy Football player, everyone wants a win. And if there are things that comics are typically selling, its victories of the human soul overcoming adversity. And unfortunately for most, such concepts are a fantasy. But at least they haven’t lost sight of the need for such a thing.

Rich Hoffman

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