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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Rich Hoffman

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Corporation of Disney Versus Sole Proprietorship of George Lucas: Why the new Star Wars is so terrible

With all the accolades given to the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens I take a bit of pride in being one of the very few to point out the obvious problems with it, and the gross neglect it represents on not only American culture, but international civilization.  Star Wars has a responsibility provided to it by its half century long quest to play that part with the human race, so when it takes that role for granted, it is the job of people like me to point it out.  Anybody can do such a thing after others have already jumped on the bandwagon.  Presently, The Force Awakens is the fastest movie to hit $1 billion in global sales and it’s still moving along at a respectable rate.  By every box-office measure, The Force Awakens is a glorious success.  Yet I’m saying that it’s not successful, which to some may appear baffling.  Here’s why, Star Wars surrendered what it was to become something that it isn’t and that deduction can be reduced to a very simple social understanding of how things work outside of a mother’s womb.  To get the gist of what’s wrong with The Force Awakens watch the very interesting reviews shown below. Watch them all, they tell the whole story.  I’ll go a step further in my explanation, but it’s a good place to begin.

One of the most difficult things a job creator can do is make decisions to eliminate the jobs of the people who count on you.  It is excessively hard—I think it’s one of the hardest things a human mind does in a capitalist society—because a means to a living is the sustenance used to survive from day-to-day.  George Lucas wanted to retire at 70 years old but he had all these employees that he felt responsible for, so he went looking for a way to keep them all busy so that he could retire in good conscience feeling he did what was right by them.  He sold his company to Disney hoping that it was the closest company to his own methods that would respect his former property and do well for an entirely new generation.   I was a supporter of it, until I saw the results. It would have done more people more good to just leave Star Wars alone and laid-off all the Lucasfilm employees.  Laying off 2000 Lucasfilm employees would have been painful, but the results have been worse.  Because in destroying Star Wars, it has taken away the good meaning it has possessed to literally hundreds of millions of people who now consider it something of a religion.

When the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney took place, many proclaimed that it was a sale to the dark side, but they said so without really understanding why.  Corporations have a tendency to be viewed as evil, while individuals are given great latitude for forgiveness.  This is the heart of the problem.  As a fan of unlimited capitalism, I should be very supportive of corporations—which I am in that they provide jobs and great products to a free marketplace.  But, they are often very socialist in their nature and their employees bring that mentality with them to the voting booth. For instance, a worker at P&G or GE works in an environment that does not promote personal growth and individuality—they work in very team oriented environments where the greater good of the company is often the focus.  This is a standard in most corporations—so when Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton expresses the values of socialism most voters are already receptive to it because they live that life within the corporate world.  Corporations are collective based organizations that are often top-heavy and loaded with too much management at the back of the train defined by the Metaphysics of Quality.  Not enough people at the front providing leadership, and too many in the back which slows down the train from true productivity.  To hide this problem, corporations hire lobbyists to work K-Street in Washington on their behalf to prevent competition, so that the corporation can stay alive longer at the expense of more capitalist invention.

I’m not a fan of corporations, but I am a fan of the people who lead them, individuals like George Lucas, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the original Walt Disney—among many others.  To me, once those strong leaders leave their corporations, everyone who follows are second handers.  This is why I am a fan of people like Carl Icahn who is the original corporate raider—who defined the term, “hostile takeover” by purchasing the stock of failing corporations and inserting new management with real leadership to make a sizable profit.  The introduction of competition to the corporate world makes everyone better and more honest and is needed in a capitalist society.  Without that behavior, you only get degrees of socialism which is terrible because it forces people to behave as collective entities proving detrimental to individual integrity.

Star Wars was always about the power of the individual, Luke Skywalker being the only hope for the Force to overthrow the emperor, Han Solo to always be functioning just outside the organized systems of the rebellion long enough to save everyone, and Obi-Wan residing in a desert all alone as the last of his kind to preserve goodness for a new generation.  Even the robot Artoo Detoo functions as a rogue individualist often breaking protocol to do what he thinks is right as C3PO representing the corporate world of doing as programmed berates him for comic relief.  In The Empire Strikes Back when Luke senses that Han and Leia are being tortured on Cloud City Yoda tells the young Jedi that he must stay and not be lured into a trap if he honors what they fight for.  The designation is clear, the relief of collective pain is not more important than the value of an individual who alone has the power to save the galaxy.  That is powerful stuff and why I along with millions of others have been a fan of Star Wars for over three decades.

The Force Awakens is a corporate movie made by the second handers of George Lucas and Walt Disney.  They are corporate minds who think in terms of sacrifice and the greater good before individual integrity, just as any corporation resents the individualist–those who do what they want in the corner cubical, and does not socialize during lunch with others and doesn’t follow orders from their superiors.  Rey the strong female who is obviously Jaina Solo from the Expanded Universe miraculously knows how to do everything which is a problem that many people have with the film upon viewing.  Many are willing to suspend their disbelief because the female hero is such a strong and compelling character that viewers are willing to overlook the problem initially.  The dilemma is that the characters in The Force Awakens are just along for the ride.  The Force is the hero of this movie and all the characters are subservient to it.  Rey is the victim of the sword that finds her, not because she finds it—her role is a passive participation in the adventure which is a direct violation of the “Hero’s Journey” that all Star Wars movies embody to some degree.  The Force uses her to get through impossible situations like flying the Falcon and fighting Kylo Ren at the end of the film.  She doesn’t survive them because she is an active participant.   She’s just “going with the flow,” and yielding to a mysterious Force that is guiding her actions.  Those are aspects of Star Wars that have always been weak, easily overshadowed by the efforts of Han Solo.

In the original films The Force was something to be listened to, but according to Obi-Wan, it also obeyed your commands—as an individual.  In The Force Awakens The Force is doing all the heavy lifting which is a corporate view of what Obi-Wan said in the film A New Hope, “there is no such thing as luck.”  This indicates that all the heroics of Han Solo in the past movies were not because of his skill as an individual pilot, or a decision that was made at a key time, but was due to The Force working through him.  This cheapens Star Wars considerably into a religion instead of a myth building tool to encourage people to follow their personal bliss.  It is the difference between a company run by a strong individual, and a corporation ran by a board of directors and a CEO as their representative.  One is an individual enterprise; the other is a collective based entity.

In time, once the fun of a new Star Wars movie fades, the impact that the films had will fade considerably as they will lose their meaning due to this corporate interpretation of The Force as opposed to the one that George Lucas nurtured.  The corporation puts up memos on a bulletin board and expects everyone to be appeased and to serve the needs of the collective entity—no matter who it is.  A company ran by a strong individual personally speaks to everyone and gives them guidance in developing their own individuality for the good of the company. It is a slight distinction that makes all the difference in the world regarding the end result.  Clearly George Lucas understands that distinction, and Disney as an organization collectively based, does not.  That is why The Force Awakens is a failure even though on paper immediately it appears successful.  Its mythology has been tampered with and is now changed forever—for the worse.  The message is one now of collectivism as opposed to individuality and that makes it very dangerous—and vile.

Now you should understand dear reader why you felt that The Force Awakens was a bad movie, but didn’t quite know how or why. It looked like Star Wars, sounded like Star Wars, had the same characters as the original Star Wars—but it wasn’t Star Wars.  It turned the overall message away from the rebellion of freedom fighters fighting for an individualized galactic republic and put the emphasis on collectivism and the reach and authority of corporations and the eventual tenacity to grind away everything that stands in their way.  And there isn’t much anybody can do about it but wait for some unseen Force to tell us what to do.  To those broken by corporate socialism into waiting for permission to use the rest room or get their vacations approved by a superior, they love Rey in the film because it’s all they can hope for in their lives after being beaten by collectivism for many years into no other option but to hope that they’ll win the lottery or gain an inheritance to earn their freedom from the grind.  But for hard-core Star Wars fans, Han Solo was the self-determined individual who functioned heroically not due to special powers or hooky religions—but by his own actions.  And in The Force Awakens, they killed off that character—for the “greater good.”  The message couldn’t have been clearer from the corporation known as Disney.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman


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Finding the Gold Within: What women who desire ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and young black youth have in common

One of the reasons that I am most proud of the extremely good work that the Joseph Campbell Foundation has done over the years is in their continued innovations by members to open up the world properly to future generations. I was extremely pleased to learn from them that Karina Epperlein has produced and directed a new film showing the wonderful work being done at the Alchemy, Inc academy in Akron, Ohio which seeks to specifically help young black males with a treacherous crises facing virtually every young man in the world presently—that enormous gulf required to step from childhood into manhood. Karina’s film is titled, Finding the Gold Within and focuses on six young men as they enter their first year of college. Each has personal circumstances to overcome as he works to escape the straightjacket of contemporary stereotypes, and each has participated from sixth grade on in Alchemy, a myth-centered mentoring program that fosters refection, critical thinking, and living an authentic life.

The biggest crises of our modern-day is not in politics, it is not in economics, religion, scientific development or any other nightly crises espoused on the various news broadcasts, it comes from an emerging menace which seeks to wipe out mankind altogether—the destruction of the male. The social experiments have concluded and a 100 years of results are now pouring in.   Some of those results are women climbing over themselves with soiled panties to see the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie largely because the men in their lives have been feminized and defanged to the point where females biologically, and intellectually just aren’t interested in them. This is bad because all young children crave the structure that a good solid father brings to a family as a pillar of reliability and strength. Kids who don’t have that fortunate situation in their lives suffer greatly until they find a replacement, or come to terms emotionally with their condition.

Of the worst of the social experiments were the various black communities where government tampering with the motivations of productive enterprise has most crippled enthusiasm for economic mobility. It has been more profitable for black households to produce children without fathers in the home, which has had a devastating effect on old and young males in minority neighborhoods. As the government has become the father figure in such homes—particularly under poor conditions, the real fathers and men of the community have turned to the bottle and drugs to compensate their failed family endeavors. There is a reason that a majority of state liquor licenses are issued to poor communities where a bar is open to wash away the broken dreams of the males while the women breed more fatherless children to qualify for more household government income. The intention was originally good, the by-product has been terrible. Black children as a result of this terrible social failure now are left with serious holes in their life which then gets filled with gangster behavior, drugs, illicit women, and years and years of alcohol. I have in the past tried to befriend these types of males and they all end up in the same place in spite of my optimistic attempts. Once they get to a certain point, there is no way to fix them. Alcohol and drugs literally destroy them, and they become hooked on those substances because of the mountains of guilt which follows them from their criminal past is impossible to escape.

The trick in the whole escapade is that young black males—all males for that matter—but particularly the ones in minority neighborhoods are looking desperately for that mysterious bridge from childhood, where they nurse close to their mother’s breast, into that void of master hunter and gatherer among their male peers. When young black kids do not have men in their lives to show them the path, they turn to gangs because males have a serious need to fill the role of a provider of some kind. Once they fall into the narco life, the money they make goes to cars, jewelry, and tattoos which indicate to females that they are a male worth mating with. But when the women aren’t interested in a family and the male has no goal to work toward because the females just want a sperm donor toward their next welfare check—the males by the time they hit their twenties flame out and end up as future alcoholics and drug addicts. If they live into their forties they are unlucky miserable specimens too far gone to properly help. The only answer that really works is to fix those young men before they become old broken heaps of social experimentation gone wrong at the local neighborhood bar going nowhere fast.

This is where Alchemy, Inc comes in. The use of myth has always functioned as a sociological and pedagogical tool with the goal of teaching people how to live in this world together while simultaneously providing examples of how to realize the personal gifts each individual brings to the stage play of life. Today this method closely resembles what is known as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). The roles that we are all born with are meant to be fulfilled, not altered in some way that is not authentic to our individuality. To attempt otherwise is to declare that on the great stage play of life that we don’t want to play the role we are given—so we lobby for some other position. The transvestite community is good at this kind of second-guessing. They might have the role of the bold and gallant warrior in the great play of life, but decide that they actually want to play the princess. So they protest, yell and scream about the injustice of life, only to show up for the play in a dress. You can see why this causes a problem if the play was written by the god of your choice with the intention to see it play out on stage. Young males are brought into the world to become men and women will expect men in their beds, at their dinner tables, and helping to raise their children. But when young men don’t even get a chance out of the gate because nobody showed them the way, they fail. Alchemy, Inc is a group dedicated to teaching those young males how to find that path in their individual lives. Alchemy, Inc. according to their website shown below, provides a healthy masculine model and strategies that set youth on the right course to stay in school and become successful, responsible family men and professionals rather than being sidetracked by the false appeal of apathy, anger, drugs, violence and victimhood. Their program is embraced by young men because of its authenticity and realness. Young males who are alienated, disengaged, and cynical towards life are drawn to the program because Alchemy, Inc offers a way to answer their “call to manhood.” They are a program that does not question or criticize youthful masculinity but repositions its positive aspects to show the way from boyhood to manhood. The course values are steeped in the character traits of “The Hero.” The model of The Hero inspires youth to persevere, learn to make the necessary sacrifices, overcome obstacles, and serve their community. Alchemy, Inc is more about cultivating wisdom than teaching knowledge.

Alchemy, Inc. offers a safe group environment for youth to focus on topics directly related to their stage of development. Youth who have engaged our program:

  • Increased their Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Increased their school attendance
  • Increased their high Grade Point Averages
  • Increased high school graduation rates
  • Increased their college acceptance rates
  • Developed the character traits necessary to succeed in life



The beauty of Alchemy, Inc is that they do not seek to preach a particular set of values to young people; they instead turn to mythology to bring the kids to their own individual adventures with authenticity. The focus is on learning to think instead of being told what to think. The kids are shown the way to become the heroes of their own lives, so that they can aspire to become the hero of a family at some future time.

Alchemy, Inc is one of the best mentoring programs I have seen for young people, particularly minority kids. All young boys need atonement with their fathers and if they don’t have it, or get it, they are marked for life as lacking. They can overcome that drawback, but it is more difficult for them than it is with kids who have a stable father figure. The kids in the Alchemy program don’t have the advantage of fathers in their life. So they have myths to replace the emptiness, which is such a powerful tool. When there isn’t a father around to teach young boys how to be men, the job doesn’t get done. Myth is a worthy substitute. When it’s applied it does the same thing as a man who speaks to his sons about the mysteries of the universe and their role in it as men when they graduate to such a level. Mythology encourages young men to be heroes not villains in their own story, which a future family will need for their nurturing.

Before feminists declare that they don’t need men, think about what you’re saying. In just a few weeks from this writing Fifty Shades of Grey is about to hit theaters and women are salivating over it. Not all women but a large enough demographic sector to provide a scientific sampling. They are as excited for the movie as teenage males might be for Star Wars, or Avengers. But why? For the adolescent male Star Wars and comic book heroes are myths that instruct what our internal values are—authentically represented by the characters. The heroes in those stories are the men we all want to become—whether we do or not is up to our personal decisions and values. If we are given the myths to live by, we will likely follow the example into our own heroic story. But because too many men give up on their heroes, they do not arrive into their adulthoods properly equipped to take care of the needs of their women. So the women are left with a void to be filled by romance novels and the occasional movie like Fifty Shades of Grey. Men are scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss is just as most women wonder why Marvel comic films are so impressive to males.
The story of Fifty Shades of Grey is all about a powerful man who is redeemed through a hero journey through love into an awakening of a higher truth. The sadomasochism is reflective of all the repressed and social pressure for authority that is imposed on most people, so in mythology it is revealed through sexual fantasy. Just as most women are suffering from the condition of not having men in their lives that are strong enough to fill their yearnings; the children of minority neighborhoods do not have proper males to lead the young to their adulthoods. What’s missing in both cases are strong male characters. And in the absence of proper instruction from one generation into another, it is mythology that provides the path. For that, I am very proud and happy to see what they are doing at Alchemy, Inc.

If you happen to have the chance to see Karina Epperlein’s new movie, you should do so. More on it can be found at the following link:


Rich Hoffman

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