‘Once Upon a Time in the West’: Hidden truths in a declining culture as time does fly

Little things matter to me quite a lot.  I notice everything and of my many careers over a lifetime, one of them will be a cultural expert where psychology, art, religion, economics and all other forms of unnamed human ambition find their way into every created thing on earth.  I grew up for as long as I can remember wanting to be a film director—but not being a very collaborative person—relegated that desire for more inward pursuits.  Because of all that I can say with great provocation that the world is in a severe cultural decline.  America obviously leads the world in culture—even though many academics might dispute it.  The evidence is in our movie houses and our music with great audacious display.  So rather than slide my predilections into the direction of the current pendulum swinging culture of global unification I am focusing much more these days on American westerns as a foundation philosophy that stands in contrast to the world currently presented to us.

I was born in 1968 and a few months after my birth one of the greatest films ever made was released—it was a Sergio Leone western called Once Upon a Time in the West.  Leone was an Italian director interpreting American westerns for a country trying to fight its way back from cultural decay after World War II.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW. Leone at the time was best known for his “Dollars” trilogy which made Clint Eastwood into a star.  Those films are and have always been fantastic.  But for the director Leone they gained him the opportunity to make the western of his dreams off the success of the previous Eastwood films.  Paramount Pictures tossed the world to him along with a host of first class stars and Sergio Leone along with his musical collaborator Ennio Morricone spun a masterpiece called Once Upon a Time in the West.

Some of my very first television memories were these spaghetti westerns by Sergio Leone replaying on Channel 19 in Cincinnati.  My grandfather loved westerns and whenever I was at his farm-house he had them on, so my mother also watched them all the time as well because it reminded her of her dad.  Of them the Sergio Leone westerns reflected my own observations about people even when I was very young—and I soaked them up.  Before I was ever in the kindergarten I was a fan of Once Upon a Time in the West.  I often confused all Leone’s westerns together until I was just shy of ten and it was then when I began to appreciate Once Upon a Time in the West as something of its own.  The Leone films had hard-wired themselves into my consciousness.  My very first time in front of a television camera was when I was sixteen during “tough guy” week on Channel 19.  “Tough guy week” was a ratings grab at Channel 19 so they ran Steve McQueen movies along with a lot of Clint Eastwood to bump up their winter numbers.  At a young age I had evolved into having a “reputation” and I was sitting at the dinner table of a prominent Sharonville judge, his wife and the biggest criminal of Northern Cincinnati at the time.  The event was a Chinese New Year advertisement for a restaurant that I worked at.  One of the owner’s sons was a guy who liked to dip his feet into that type of world where justice sits at dinner tables with known criminals and he used me even at that young age as one of his “heavies.”  I enjoyed the experience because I was essentially living the life of the protagonists in Sergio Leone’s westerns and I discovered by living those characters in real life that one of my favorite film directors was in fact a genius.  As I sat at that table during that day long commercial recording talking to the judge and the crime lord obviously working together with me in the middle and being told by that same judge that when I got into trouble—he’d take care of it–I knew for me there was no going back.  At too young of an age I knew way too much about the way the world worked.  I was then and still am about 60 years ahead of myself and it does really go back to Leone’s westerns and my young introduction to them.  When the commercial aired on television my family was one of the first people back then to have a VCR so I was able to tape it.  My television appearance aired with the judge and the criminal seated on either side of me during a showing of For a Few Dollars More.  During that same Channel 19 “tough guy” week Once Upon a Time in the West was shown again and I was able to see it as a 16-year-old actually doing in real life much of what the Charles Bronson character was doing in that film and I watched it with new understanding for the first time.  It was as real and honest of any motion picture I had ever seen—it was to my eyes much better than The Godfather which was still making cultural waves in that year of 1985.  A month later I was involved in a fight with a bunch of people which led to a tragic situation and if I had not been sitting at that table with that judge on that particular day for that commercial, I’d probably have a much different life than I do now and my freedoms would likely be greatly restricted.

I felt it was important for my wife to be to watch Once Upon a Time in the West to understand more about me, so I tried to show it to her early in our relationship.  At the time she was a country club girl so she wasn’t ready for movies like that—where the opening was so strange and dramatic.  She made fun of it heavily after the first seven minutes and I never tried again to show it to her until January of 2016.  I had meant to show the movie to my children at some point so given all my history with it I felt that they should see the movie.  I bought the cut of the film that had been restored to 165 minutes as opposed to the version I had seen as a kid, the 145 minute version which was a bit more confusing, and relished being able to finally show it to my wife and at least some of my kids.  It was a great experience.  The music from Ennio Morricone was so good in that movie that I have used it often to raise my mind above times of incredible stress.  Even though my wife didn’t like Once Upon a Time in the West at first I still loved it and thought of it often to carry me through tough times.  I was 25-years old and in deep trouble.  I had more legal problems and had law suits directed at me from several directions and I had to tap into that raw, primal civility that I had refined when I was 16, where I could walk into any situation and just take care of things no matter how bad the guys on the other side of the table were—or who hid in the shadows where you parked your car.  I had for the first time a CD collection of Ennio Morricone’s music which featured a scene on the front from Once Upon a Time in the West.  By the 1990s the film was considered an obscure classic and nobody remembered it much except for filmmakers and people who were particularly fascinated with cultural phenomenon.  In the hardest days of my life I listened to the music from Once Upon a Time in the West to serve as my moral compass—and it has always worked for me. I sat in my office back then with the world coming down around me and would listen to those Morricone soundtracks and think of “The Man with the Harmonica”—that haunting melody which spoke of revenge, perseverance, and the growth of a human into an Übermensch (German for “Overman, Overhuman, Above-Human, Superman, Superhuman, Ultraman, Ultrahuman, Beyond-Man”; German pronunciation: [ˈˀyːbɐmɛnʃ]) As readers here know I think a lot of the concept which is from the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. In his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra (GermanAlso Sprach Zarathustra), Nietzsche has his character Zarathustra posit the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself. It is a work of philosophical allegory, with a structural similarity to the Gathas of Zoroaster/Zarathustra.  I learned later that my love of Sergio Leone had more to do with the concept of the Übermensch than of the westerns themselves—but I can say that there is an honesty in Once Upon a Time in the West that is not present in any other form of art and it should be experienced—especially these days.

Once Upon a Time in the West (ItalianC’era una volta il West) is a 1968 epic Spaghetti Western Technicolor film in Techniscope directed by Sergio Leone. It stars Henry Fonda cast against type as the villain, Charles Bronson as his nemesisClaudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader, and Jason Robards as a bandit. The screenplay was written by Sergio Donati and Leone, from a story by Dario ArgentoBernardo Bertolucci and Leone. The widescreen cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli, and the acclaimed film score was by Ennio Morricone.

After directing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Leone decided to retire from Westerns and desired to produce his film based on The Hoods, which eventually becameOnce Upon a Time in America. However, Leone accepted an offer from Paramount Pictures to provide access to Henry Fonda and to use a budget to produce another Western film. He recruited Bertolucci and Argento to devise the plot of the film in 1966, researching other Western films in the process. After Clint Eastwood turned down an offer to play the movie’s protagonist, Bronson was offered the role. During production, Leone recruited Donati to rewrite the script due to concerns over time limitations.

The original version by the director was 166 minutes (2 hours and 46 minutes) when it was first released on December 21, 1968. This was the version that was to be shown in European cinemas and was a box office success. For the US release on May 28, 1969, Once Upon a Time in the West was edited down to 145 minutes (2 hours and 25 minutes) by Paramount and was a financial flop. The film is considered by some to be the first installment in Leone’s Once Upon a Time Trilogy, followed by Duck, You Sucker!, called Once Upon a Time… the Revolution in parts of Europe, and Once Upon a Time in America, though the films do not share any characters in common.

The film is now generally acknowledged as a masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made.[3][4] In 2009, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.[5]

The film portrays two conflicts that take place around Flagstone, a fictional town in the American Old West: a land battle related to construction of a railroad, and a mission of vengeance against a cold-blooded killer. A struggle exists for Sweetwater, a piece of land near Flagstone containing the region’s only water source. The land was bought by Brett McBain (Frank Wolff), who foresaw that the railroad would have to pass through that area to provide water for the steam locomotives. When crippled railroad tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) learns of this, he sends his hired gun Frank (Henry Fonda) to intimidate McBain to move off the land, but Frank instead kills McBain and his three children, planting evidence to frame the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards). It appears the land has no owner; however, a former prostitute (Claudia Cardinale) arrives from New Orleans, revealing she is Jill McBain, Brett’s new wife and the owner of the land.

Meanwhile, a mysterious harmonica-playing gunman (Charles Bronson), whom Cheyenne later dubs “Harmonica”, pursues Frank. In the film’s opening scene, Harmonica kills three men sent by Frank to kill him. In a roadhouse on the way to Sweetwater, he informs Cheyenne that the three gunfighters appeared to be posing as Cheyenne’s men.

Back at Sweetwater, construction materials are delivered to build a railroad station and a small town. Harmonica explains that Jill will lose Sweetwater unless the station is built by the time the track’s construction crews reach that point, so Cheyenne puts his men to work building it.

Frank turns against Morton, who wanted to make a deal with Jill; Morton’s disability makes him unable to fight back. After having sex with Jill, Frank forces her to sell the property in an auction. He tries to buy the farm cheaply by intimidating the other bidders, but Harmonica arrives, holding Cheyenne at gunpoint, and makes a much higher bid based on his reward money for delivering Cheyenne to the authorities. Harmonica rebuffs an offer by Frank to buy the farm from him for one dollar more than he paid at the auction. As Cheyenne is placed on a train bound for the Yuma prison, two members of his gang purchase one-way tickets for the train, intending to help him escape.

Frank’s men betray and ambush him, having been paid by Morton to turn against him, but—much to Jill’s outrage—Harmonica helps Frank kill them, intending to kill Frank himself. Frank returns to Morton, only to find that he and the rest of Frank’s men have been killed in a battle with Cheyenne’s gang. Frank then goes to Sweetwater to confront Harmonica. On two occasions, Frank has asked Harmonica who he is, but both times Harmonica refused to answer him. Instead, he mysteriously quoted names of men Frank has murdered. This time, Harmonica says he will reveal who he is “only at the point of dying”. The two men position themselves for a duel, at which point Harmonica’s motive for revenge is revealed in a flashback:

A younger Frank, already a cruel bandit, is forcing a boy to support on his shoulders his older brother, whose neck is in a noose strung from an arch. As the boy struggles to hold his brother’s weight, Frank stuffs a harmonica into the boy’s mouth and tells him to play. The brother curses Frank and kicks his brother away, and dies.

Harmonica draws first and shoots Frank. As he lies dying, Frank again asks who he is, whereupon the harmonica is placed in Frank’s mouth. Frank nods weakly in recognition and dies. Harmonica and Cheyenne say goodbye to Jill, who is supervising construction of the railway station as the track-laying crews reach Sweetwater. Cheyenne collapses, revealing that he had been fatally shot by Morton during the fight with Frank’s gang. The work train arrives, Jill carrying water to the rail workers, while Harmonica rides away with Cheyenne’s body.

Leone’s intent was to take the stock conventions of the American Westerns of John FordHoward Hawks and others, and rework them in an ironic fashion, essentially reversing their intended meaning in their original sources to create a darker connotation.[22] The most obvious example of this is the casting of veteran film good guy Henry Fonda as the villainous Frank, but there are also many other, more subtle reversals throughout the film. According to film critic and historian Christopher Frayling, the film quotes from as many as 30 classic American Westerns.

The major films referenced include:

  • High Noon(1952): The opening sequence is similar to the opening of High Noon, in which three bad guys (Lee Van CleefSheb Wooley and Robert J. Wilke) are shown waiting for the arrival of their leader (named Frank, played by Ian MacDonald) on the noon train. In the opening of Once Upon a Time in the West, three bad guys (Jack Elam, who appeared in a small part in High NoonWoody Strode, and Al Mulock) take over and wait at a train station. However, the period of waiting is depicted in a lengthy ten-minute sequence, the train arrives several hours after noon, and its passenger is one of the film’s heroes (Charles Bronson) rather than its villain. The scene is famous for its use of natural sounds: a squeaky windmill, knuckles cracking, and Jack Elam’s character trying to shoo off a fly. According to rumor, Leone offered the parts of the three gunmen to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly stars Clint EastwoodLee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.[23]
  • 3:10 to Yuma(1957): This cult Western by Delmer Daves may have had considerable influence on the film. The most obvious reference is a brief exchange between Keenan Wynn‘s Sheriff and Cheyenne, in which they discuss sending the latter to Yuma  In addition, as in West the main villain is played by an actor (Glenn Ford) who normally played good guys. The film also features diegetic music (Ford at one point whistles the film’s theme song just as Harmonica provides music in West). And the scene in which Van Heflin‘s character escorts Ford to the railroad station while avoiding an ambush by his gang may have inspired the ambush of Frank by his own men in Leone’s film.
  • The Comancheros(1961): The names “McBain” and “Sweetwater” may come from this film. (Contrary to popular belief, the name of the town “Sweetwater” was not taken from Victor Sjöström‘s silent epic dramaThe Wind. Bernardo Bertolucci has stated that he looked at a map of the southwestern United States, found the name of the town in Arizona, and decided to incorporate it into the film. However, both “Sweetwater” and a character named “McBain” appeared in The Comancheros, which Leone admired.[24])
  • Johnny Guitar(1954): Jill and Vienna have similar backstories (both are former prostitutes who become saloonkeepers), and Harmonica, like Sterling Hayden‘s title character, is a mysterious, gunslinging outsider known by his musical nickname. Some of West’s central plot (Western settlers vs. the railroad company) may be recycled from Nicholas Ray’s film.[24]

  • The Iron Horse(1924): West may contain several subtle references to this film, including a low angle shot of a shrieking train rushing towards the screen in the opening scene, and the shot of the train pulling into the Sweetwater station at the end.[24]
  • Shane(1953): The massacre scene in West features young Timmy McBain out hunting with his father, just as Joey does in this movie. The funeral of the McBains is borrowed almost shot-for-shot from Shane.[24]
  • Vera Cruz(1954): In both films, Charles Bronson’s character plays a harmonica and is known only by a nickname.
  • The Searchers(1956): Leone admitted that the rustling bushes, the silencing of cicada chirps, and the fluttering pheasants that suggest a menace approaching the farmhouse when the McBain family is massacred were all taken from The Searchers. The ending of the film—where Western nomads Harmonica and Cheyenne move on rather than join modern society—also echoes the famous ending of Ford’s film.[24]
  • Warlock(1959): At the end of this film, Henry Fonda’s character wears clothing very similar to his costume throughout West. In addition, Warlock features a discussion about mothers between Fonda and Dorothy Malone that is similar to those between Cheyenne and Jill in West. Finally, Warlock contains a sequence in which Fonda’s character kicks a crippled man off his crutches, as he does to Mr. Morton in West.
  • The Magnificent Seven(1960): In this film, Charles Bronson’s character whittles a piece of wood. In West, he does the same, although in a different context. The Magnificent Seven was based on Seven Samuraiby Akira Kurosawa, whose film Yojimbo (“The Bodyguard”) was the inspiration (and later, litigation) behind Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars.
  • Winchester ’73(1950): It has been claimed that the scenes in West at the trading post are based on those in Winchester ’73, but the resemblance is slight.[24]
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance(1962): The dusters (long coats) worn by Cheyenne and his gang (and by Frank and his men while impersonating them) resemble those worn by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and his henchmen when they are introduced in this film. In addition, the auction scene in West was intended to recall the election scene in Liberty Valance.[24]
  • The Last Sunset(1961): The final duel between Frank and Harmonica is shot almost identically to the duel between Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson in this film.[24]
  • Duel in the Sun(1946): The character of Morton, the crippled railroad baron in West, was based on the character played by Lionel Barrymore in this film.[24]
  • Sergeant Rutledge(1960): This John Ford Western, featuring Woody Strode as the title character, has a scene in which Constance Towers falls asleep in a chair with a rifle in her lap, just as Jill McBain does in Leone’s film.
  • My Darling Clementine(1946): In the trading post scene, Cheyenne slides Harmonica’s gun down the bar to him, challenging him to shoot – much like Morgan Earp (Ward Bond) sliding his weapon to brother Wyatt (Henry Fonda) in the Ford film when the Earps meet Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) for the first time. Also, a deleted scene in West featured Frank getting a shave with perfume in a barber’s shop, much like Fonda’s Wyatt.

Once Upon a Time in the West was itself explicitly referenced in The Quick and the Dead, when John Herod (Gene Hackman), faces Ellen (Sharon Stone), better known as “The Lady,” in a climactic gunfight. Ellen’s identity is a mystery until the end, when the audience sees Ellen’s flashback to Herod lynching her father, a sheriff. The sadistic Herod gives Ellen (then only a little girl) a chance to save her father by shooting through and breaking the rope wrapped around his neck, but Ellen accidentally kills her father by shooting him in the forehead. As with Frank, Herod yells “Who are you?”, and the only response he receives is an artifact from the earlier lynching—in this case, the sheriff’s badge that Ellen has kept all these years. The Quick and the Dead has another connection to Once Upon a Time in the West: It was the final film for Woody Strode, who died before it could be released.

Many other films have paid tribute to Once Upon a Time in the West over the years: Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds opens with a lengthy sequence entitled Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France (a phrase also used as a tagline for the 2009 film) which introduces the film’s primary villain and features the mass shooting of a family at a farmhouse; Tarantino’s Kill Bill films utilize snatches of Morricone’s harmonica and guitar soundtrack; Back to the Future Part III recreates the station rooftop scene from Once Upon a Time in the WestBaz Luhrmann‘s Australia features several nods to Leone’s film, including a homestead with a squeaky windmill, an almost-identical funeral scene, and an antagonistic relationship between the film’s villains; and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End features a parody of the “Man With a Harmonica” theme on the soundtrack, as the film’s protagonists parley on a sandbar before the final battle.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_Upon_a_Time_in_the_West

A lot of people I think have the same reaction my wife had to Once Upon a Time in the West the first time they see it.  Let me tell you that 25 years after she laughed at it the first time, she wasn’t laughing any more.  Nobody is laughing any more, I can say that.  She had grown to appreciate what the film had been saying for decades.  She had learned by middle life what I had known as a 16-year-old, and once you know those types of things there is only one place for your mind to go.  You either become an Übermensch of some kind or you go insane.  There are a lot of characters in the world like Henry Fonda’s “Frank.”  And there is only one way to deal with them and Sergio Leone knew how to capture that conflict on-screen like no other person I’ve ever seen in film.  A lot of film makers have tried to capture the magic of Once Upon a Time in the West, but they never get it all.  Now, nearly five decades later the extremely bright international culture that produced that great film is nearly vanished.  It’s not a great film just because it’s a western—but because of the metaphors presented in the seemingly simplistic tapestry of the western—as it was invented in America.

It doesn’t matter that Sergio Leone took an American hero like Henry Fonda and made him into the villain—it’s that Leone knew how to take the strength of his characters whether it be Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood and turn them into Übermenschs to deal with overwhelming evil captured quite accurately.  I always think of that dinner table during that filming of the Chinese New Year commercial and how it reminded me so much of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  But even more than that it reminded me of Frank from Once Upon a Time in the West.  When Jill gets mad at Harmonica for helping keep Frank alive—it is for the reasons provided that many of the mysteries of our lives go unfulfilled.  And yes I’m talking in a bit of a riddle here, but to get the answer watch the movie and remember the line, “time flies.”  Knowing what to do with an enemy after you’ve identified them as such is what I have always found valuable about westerns.  To understand that you have an enemy is to have a set of values that an enemy fights against and in Once Upon a Time in the West that conflict is poetically displayed in ways that no film has ever mastered as well.  Many have tried but nobody has been able to hit it as well as Sergio Leone.  Time does fly, whether it’s a 16 year old discovering the truth of how a childhood movie favorite applies to the real world of politics and intrigue and how rivers are often polluted with the remains of politics washed off the parking lot after a strong rain—with the personal stamp of approval from a kindly old judge—or a wife who had grown over the years to see something totally different from her young 20-year-old eyes were ready to appreciate.  Some movies reflect culture—others like Sergio Leone’s films make it.  And that is why I think so much of him and his films—particularly, Once Upon a Time in the West.  If you haven’t seen it, you should.  Because “time flies” and so do good ideas—you have to hit them when you get the chance for the motivations only you know about—even if the morality for it only exists outside of time and space in a mythical realm where justice truly does rule—not with blinders—but a six-gun and a lot of tenacity.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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El Chapo Exposes Communist Ties to Hollywood: Sean Penn’s interview for left-leaning Rolling Stone and the failure of all governments

It is absolutely disgusting that Joaquín Guzmán felt so comfortable with producers and actors of American cinema that the communist Sean Penn was invited to meet with the most wanted fugitive in the world for a Rolling Stone interview in September 2015. I seem to be calling a lot of people communists these days but it’s only because they are coming out of their shells and calling themselves that—in this case Penn who seems to represent the Hollywood leftist politics as one of their most vocal advocates says it about himself.  Penn is a talented actor and sometimes director but he might as well be a filmmaker from Venezuela, China or Russia—because there isn’t much about him that is American—and that holds true of his friends, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, and James Cameron over the last 15 years. Hollywood is a cesspool of socialism and communism hidden behind Democratic fundraisers and environmental concerns.  The motion picture industry has been taken over by extreme leftist view points to such an extent that most of what they produce is ridiculously detrimental to our society.  While I was quite impressed with The Revenant, upcoming films like Dirty Grandpa with Robert De Niro show how far American cinema has embedded itself with drug avocation and liberal view points toward most social circumstances.  The situation is so bad that the most wanted fugitive in the world was able to contact members of Hollywood to give him a private interview at his home in the jungles of Sinaloa.

Of course Mexico and most of the media are trying to paint the communist Penn as a hero for leading authorities to El Chapo after a Friday night shootout led to his recapture.  But everyone is missing the point.  The CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and all of Mexico was looking for the drug dealer yet Penn and Rolling Stone magazine were able to have an interview with him over four months ago and nothing was done.  Guzmán supposedly had a $100 million dollar hit on an American presidential candidate in Donald Trump—who is the Republican frontrunner—yet Hollywood was able to find and correspond with the drug dealer as literally every government on planet earth failed.  Give me a break!  This is a disgusting story that shows just how corrupt everything is from the President of the United States to all our government officials supposedly supplying security.  It’s not like El Chapo was hiding in some other country.  He was in his home state of Mexico all this time surrounded by thousands of people every day-and he was talking to Hollywood producers about making a movie about his life.  Sean Penn should be thrown in jail for conspiring with an enemy of the United States.  He’s no hero for getting Guzmán captured.  He’s a communist insurgent who associates with the worst the world has to offer in an attempt to overthrow American sovereignty.  Drugs in American culture are a Trojan horse weapon meant to topple our capitalists society with an overload of excess, and Hollywood is helping losers like El Chapo do it—and they should be prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law—everyone involved.  Here’s how our pathetic media outlets reported the story with links provided—article edited for priority briefing.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, started out in business not long after turning 6, selling oranges and soft drinks. By 15, he said in an interview conducted in a jungle clearing by the actor and director Sean Penn for Rolling Stone magazine, he had begun to grow marijuana and poppies because there was no other way for his impoverished family to survive.

Now, unapologetically, he said: “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

Though his fortune, estimated at $1 billion, has come with a trail of blood, he does not consider himself a violent man. “Look, all I do is defend myself, nothing more,” he told Mr. Penn. “But do I start trouble? Never.”

The seven hours Mr. Guzmán spent with Mr. Penn, and the follow-up interviews by phone and video, which began in October while he was on the run from the Mexican and American authorities, marked another surreal turn in his long-running battle to evade Mexican and American authorities. Mr. Guzmán, one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, who had twice escaped jail, was captured in his home state of Sinaloa in northwest Mexico on Friday after a gun battle with the authorities.

The interview with Rolling Stone, believed to be the first Mr. Guzmán has given in decades, was conducted over several sessions. It was scheduled to be published online Saturday night.

The interviews were held in a jungle clearing atop a mountain at an undisclosed location in Mexico. Surrounded by more than 100 cartel troops, and wearing a silk shirt and pressed black jeans, Mr. Guzmán sat down to dinner with Mr. Penn and Kate del Castillo, an actress who once played a drug kingpin in a soap opera.

Even though Mexican troops attacked his hide-out in the days after the meeting, necessitating a narrow escape, Mr. Guzmán continued the interview by BlackBerry Messenger and in a video delivered by courier to the pair later.

Mr. Penn’s account is likely to deepen the concern among the Mexican authorities already embarrassed by Mr. Guzmán’s multiple escapes, the months required to find him again and his status for some as something of a folk hero. Mr. Penn describes being waved through a military road checkpoint on his way to meet Mr. Guzmán, which Mr. Penn suggested was because the soldiers recognized Mr. Guzmán’s son. Mr. Penn said he was also told, during a leg of the journey taken in a small plane equipped with a scrambling device for ground radar only, that the cartel was informed by an insider when the military deployed a high-altitude surveillance plane that might have spotted their movements.

Mr. Penn and Mr. Guzmán spoke for seven hours, the story reports, at a compound amid dense jungle. The topics of conversation turned in unexpected directions. At one stage, Mr. Penn brought up Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate; there were some reports that Mr. Guzmán had put a $100 million bounty on Mr. Trump after he made comments offensive to Mexicans. “Ah! Mi amigo!” Mr. Guzmán responded.

He asked Mr. Penn whether people in America were interested in him and laughed when Mr. Penn told him that the Fusion channel was repeating a documentary on him, “Chasing El Chapo.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/world/americas/el-chapo-mexican-drug-lord-interview-with-sean-penn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

It is widely considered to be against the basic principles of journalism to grant a subject such authority over a piece.

Rolling  Stone’s journalistic practices have been criticized since its publication of a now discredited gang-rape story at the University of Virginia.

A representative for Rolling Stone did not immediately reply to The Blaze’s request for comment Saturday night.

Guzman was captured by Mexican marines early Friday in a coastal city, and the attorney general says the drug boss was tracked down partly because he was making a biographical movie.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/01/09/rolling-stone-granted-el-chapo-approval-power-over-entire-exclusive-profile-on-him/

I don’t know who the hell Kate Del Castillos is, nor do I care. I want to see Mexico get Sean Penn and throw him in one of those crappy Mexican prisons. Give him a taste of what Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, Sean Penn is scum, and is the face of the progressive liberal Democrat party. Throw the book at him Mexico! Force the US to extradite him. Use the Affluenza kid as bait.

http://www.fireandreamitchell.com/2016/01/09/sean-penn-under-investigation-for-meeting-el-chapo/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FireAndreaMitchell+%28Fire+Andrea+Mitchell%21+Exposing+Liberal+bias+cause+the+MSM+doesn%27t+have+to.%29

Conchita Alonso — known for her role in “The Running Man” and “Predator 2,” and who once acted in a 1988 film with Penn — had previously written an open letter criticizing him for his support for the Venezuelan dictator. Spotting the actor, who was also waiting for lost luggage, she approached him. When the “Milk” star recognized her, his smile disappeared: He told her he didn’t want to talk to her and accused her brother of trying to assassinate Chavez.

In an interview with WMAL, the actress said she told Penn, “You are in favor of Hugo Chavez and [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad.”

When Penn denied he supports Ahmadinejad and called Conchita Alonso “a pig,” she replied, “And you are a communist, Sean Penn! … You’re a communist asshole!”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/20/finally-actress-tells-sean-penn-hes-a-communist-asshole-video/#ixzz3woNTTedL

This whole story is just so terribly disgusting, it shows how embedded criminal elements are within Hollywood.   It also shows the network of priority that some of the worst that exist around the world gravitate to and why.  Then of course there is the sheer incompetence of all the governments involved in not picking up the loser Guzmán who was operating a multibillion dollar business right out in the open.  The whole thing is just pathetic.  And during the drama, Donald Trump turned out to be right about everything, including how cozy Guzmán’s relationship was with the United States.  Trump also deserves credit for staying tough even with the $100 million dollar bounty on his head.  Apparently nobody else has any toughness anymore, so it’s good to see somebody out there still does.  This whole case just exhibits why we need a wholesale change in American culture from the very top to the deepest bottom and scumbags like El Chapo and his criminal children deeply connected to Hollywood and Vegas need to be rooted out and punished for their work against American strategic objectives.

Personally for me, I don’t like drugs—in ANY form.  I don’t like drinking.  I don’t like collectivist based governments—such as communism and socialism—and I don’t like the worst scum bags of our planet using an American industry as a means of social destabilization right under the watch of all our tax payer funded governments.  Want to know why socialism and communism will never work and why in America we need guns—lots of guns?  This El Chapo story contains the very reasons with great illustration into the worst that human beings bring to the table of thought and action and exemplifies why the only sane people left in America are supporting Donald Trump for president.

This is the guy who was contacted and captured El Chapo.  What a bunch of dumb asses.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

Columbus Did Not Discover America: Indians are not “Native Americans”–understanding the infancy of archaeology

I’ve said it before, George Lucas has left his mark on the world not as a great filmmaker and creator of franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones—but on the world of archaeology and anthropology—which is what he originally wanted to be when he grew up.  Archaeology as a science is a very young profession.  It’s only just over a hundred years old as one of the big academic platforms of most universities.  I myself originally wanted to be an archaeologist—but pulled away from it when I realized that the women weren’t very attractive, the money was too  infrequent, and that most of the job was digging up junk in bad regions of the world then being restricted by university politics on what you could say about them.

   And for me, archaeology didn’t allow for guns to be fired while on the job—so I stepped away.   But many thousands of people didn’t essentially because they wanted to grow up and be like Indiana Jones.  This has allowed for some really good minds to enter the field and for money to find its way into excavations and television programming that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.  So it shouldn’t be shocking to many to hear broadcasts like this one below where lots of archaeological evidence is presented showing quite clearly that Minoans had settlements in the middle of a Tennessee region several thousand years ago—like up to eight thousand B.C.  Watch this!

It was really immature, and scientifically stupid to take the young field of archaeology and declare that everything discovered in the first half of the 20th Century guided largely by the Smithsonian would declare the history of the world for all time.   There just wasn’t enough evidence in the young field and not enough people doing the investigations.  To take a few finds from Howard Carter and declare for all time that “The West” understood the history of the world and that the case was closed to protect religious politics and university prestige from further discoveries was just a mistake.  There is a lot more to archaeology than that and our history as a human race.  The evidence is abundant that no history book is 100% correct.  It is really only because of George Lucas that further questions have been asked and thousands of Indiana Jones fans are running around the world uncovering that hidden past even when the politics of our societies is attempting to castigate them for doing so.

For instance, in the case of the above video, where it is quite clear that the Minoans were in America during a time well before Aristotle was having debates about individuality over collective Republicanism with Plato cultures were rising and falling in America many thousands of years before Columbus ever found a map of the ocean routes to what he thought was China from black market vendors in Calcutta that found itself hidden from the public in Portugal.  That’s a story I’ve told before, and is only relevant here because it points to the tip of an iceberg of basic archaeological foundations that are deservedly being tossed out the window as the evidence dictates.  Columbus didn’t discover America.  He only rediscovered it for Europe and the Roman Catholic Church—the rest of the world already knew about the “New World” and had been traveling there for a long time.

The first sign of evidence is that there are accents to Cherokee Indian speech that reflect regional infusion from the eastern Mediterranean cultures.  I often talk about the giants found in American mounds—people standing eight feet to nine feet tall who were in North America well before all the known Indian tribes now documented.  I have also written quite extensively of my disgust that the Miamisburg Mound near my home has been virtually untouched by modern science and had a massive government project set up around it preventing proper excavation techniques.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.  I have also written about my extreme disgust about what happened to the Nework Mound complex just east of Columbus, Ohio.  Of course Columbus is named after Christopher and was established to preserve the European version of historical discovery.  So the way early settlers around Columbus dealt with the strange mounds at Newark was to put a housing development right thought the middle of it, and then put a golf course right through the northern octagon.  The Newark sight is a massive archaeological site that has been mostly destroyed by the third major culture to inhabit its terrestrial placement.   I say third because the European migrants only  recently replaced the Hopewell and Adena cultures that had been second-handers to the primary culture that built the mounds and had artifacts that were clearly from the same region as the archaeology found in the Tennessee Valley.

I have even went so far to show in great detail how the entire city of Lexington, Kentucky was built on top of an ancient city that would have been much more at home in the Tigris and Euphrates, area than what is typically associated with the American Indian.   I have covered the mysterious archaeological evidence found inside a major mound for which the center of downtown Cincinnati was built on top of, and is presently found in the nearby museum—mysteriously placed but completely unidentifiable by current scientific understanding.   A very good argument that the current highway system of I-75 is one of the most mysterious lines of road built anywhere in the world could be made.  Not only did it give us Kentucky Fried Chicken during its construction but it shows an almost human memory of a trade route that used to connect all these archaeological regions across a vast span of American frontier thousands of years before known history has attributed anything logical occurring before the nomad culture of the Indians were discovered in North America from 1492 to 1850.

A study of Indian myths and legends are all that’s left of an obvious advanced culture that spanned the entire world before the philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality in China during 551 – 479 BC.  There were cultures in America referred to only in the Bible’s missing Book of Enoch that had been around for many millennia and had risen and fallen following the Vico cycle.  The Indians were obviously part of that cycle and were capturing that earlier period through their mythologies, which they interpreted the best they could as a second-handed society of nomads.

So there is a lot of work to do, and without George Lucas, I don’t think there would be so much independent investigation which is uncovering all these marvelous revelations occurring outside of academia.  I’m not against academia, they are most poised to do the work, but they have not been open to the evidence pouring in from finds all over the world, and they have too much of a relationship with government censorship obviously motivated to preserve their version of history—likely to protect the religious foundations of their societies, whether that be European pride, or American Christianity.  Many of the most important archaeological sites around the world are off-limits because they exists in war-torn areas always brimming with political mismanagement that often looks to be to be deliberate.  Whether it’s the ISIS destruction of ancient cities in the Middle East, or the communism which has hidden Cambodia from legitimate investigation by a sex trade industry that flourishes to keep legitimate investigators away from the vile horror often associated with Phnom Penh.

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/12/world/cambodia-child-sex-trade/

Communism is a big part of the problem; try getting a dig permit in China where there is a lot of untouched archaeological research that needs to be conducted—which looks to reflect much of what has been found in North America.  Look at Central and South America where poverty from socialism has destroyed those economies leaving people desperate to make a basic living for themselves.   Only really seasoned travelers like Josh Gates—whom I think is a wonderful person often seen on the Travel Channel, can go to such places and resist the temptation to embark on the debauchery of a people who would sell their entire futures in exchange for a piece of bread—then stay for years studying archaeological evidence that no university in the civilized world wants to publish, for fear of it tarnishing their relationships with the British Museum, the Louvre, or the Smithsonian.  In the United States we can’t even get a reasonable excavation of the Miamisburg Mound by nearby University of Dayton, or the Great Serpent Mound by Ohio University, Athens, or the University of Cincinnati—let alone why no legitimate research into Shambhala in the Himalayas is taking place.

  The Dalai Lama can’t even have an afterlife without the Chinese Communist Party demanding that he reincarnate by their direction.  (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up).  So having a legitimate scientific investigation into Shambhala is off-limits because of the communism of China and its impact on the surrounding countries.  The communist Chinese do not want to know what happened in their culture 8 to 10 thousand years ago.  They are more worried about the Dalai Lama’s afterlife.  Not even the great Ohio State can tell us Hebrew-like artifacts were found at Newark, which is only a 45 minutes drive to the east in a pretty nice part of town relative to the rest of the world’s archaeology.  There’s even a Wendy’s restaurant at the front door to the historic site.  But Ohio State can tell us how they plan to win another national football championship.  No really serious investigation occurs there but to attribute the site to the Hopewell Indians descending from the Archaic period.

http://www.joshuagates.com/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/world/asia/chinas-tensions-with-dalai-lama-spill-into-the-afterlife.html?_r=0]

Do I believe that it was Minoans who were in America during that Archaic period?  I think there is lots of evidence that shows that they, or a culture that either spawned them, or the other way around was directly involved in trade between China, North America, and the Middle East likely 10,000 years ago and many of the cultures of that period have either been built over by successors or remain hidden by years of erosion.  They are right in front of our faces, but we do not see it because of modern religion and government vice.  The cause for instance of Cambodian sex trafficking is their authoritarian rule and history with communism.  As a French colony—which is a first world socialist utopia in Europe—the people were conquered and left to communism, which crushed their economy leaving families to sell their children to the sex trade.  The West keeps it going because they want access to the young virgin children which prevents any real science from occurring there by guilt of association.  Anybody with a trip to Phnom Penh on their passport feels they have to explain to people at a museum fundraiser that they were only there for “work” not sex with children. So no legitimate scientist wants to spend years studying Ankor Wat, but for the occasional photographer who goes there to get the fantastic pictures of a culture long gone and mysteriously sophisticated. The ones who do don’t get much of a voice on the world stage of academia—by design.  We are led to believe that such societies were not connected to places like Cahokia on the Mississippi River in North America, or the Tigres in the Middle East—but was a standalone culture that was a self-contained Hindu religion shut off from the world by terrain.

The lesson here of course is that one century of archaeology was not enough.  We really can’t formulate the history of the human race with just a few decades of a young scientific field.  Thanks to George Lucas, he pulled the restrictor plate off the science through imagination and now there are a lot of people like Josh Gates exploring the world living out their internal fantasies of being like Indiana Jones.  And that’s a great thing—because we deserve to understand who were are and where we are going.  But one thing is certain, Christopher Columbus did not discover the “New World” and the Indians were not “Native Americans.”  They came from someplace else as well and took over sites from a culture that had risen and fallen in the United States well before they built their first mythology for Tirawa—The One Above from the Pawnee Indian tribe.  Following the Vico cycle, the Pawnee like all the others were second-handers to a culture that had receded into a primitive state only to become nomads once again leaving a culture to clamor at the truth only through myths and legends.  But our true history is still being uncovered—and established archaeology is only just now getting started.  The history books will not be complete for several thousand years going forward—that is if we can avoid the Vico cycle ourselves.  That is the challenge of our present states.  Hopefully we can learn from that hidden history before it’s too late for us as well and we are reduced to a fragmented regional memory of a future country who thinks they understand the human race because they uncovered a copy of Star Wars under 50 feet of soil and reported to the government then that they have it all figured out.

To substantiate what I have said, click all the links in the text above and you will find dear reader enough free information to fill several books.  Then watch all the videos and you will discover enough evidence to last a lifetime, and it will change how you see everything.  I promise–all you have to do is look and read for yourself.  The evidence is more than abundant.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

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

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

 

Why Disney Destroyed Han Solo: Progressive activism and attacking “white, American, family men”

I knew there was trouble on June 3rd 2015 when Marvel comics announced that Han Solo had an ex-wife in its comic #6 issue.  I didn’t want to believe it, but after later seeing The Force Awakens, I am 100% sure that what I was watching Disney do was on the scale of the old medieval churches in Europe re-writing history with their printing of Bibles to control the mass population through religion.  Star Wars was becoming something of a religion around the world, and now that the Disney Corporation had paid 4 billion dollars for it they were taking great liberties with very important characters in an attempt to change their original meaning to the overall story.   They didn’t have to, because the property had already been developed by George Lucas over three decades into a positive household name with no signs of abating.  Even more alarming was that Han’s revisionist wife was a black woman named Sana Solo proving that Disney was more interested in establishing progressive values in their ownership of Star Wars instead of just continuing the story that so many loved.   Disney was deliberately smearing the market impression that Han Solo had on the Star Wars stories and they were doing it not to be more successful, but because they wanted to change the meaning and mythic impact of the overall story arc.  That is why if you were listening to WAAM today at 1 PM in the afternoon, you would have heard Matt Clark and I dismantling Disney’s ownership of the Star Wars franchise.  If you missed it, you can hear it again here and above this paragraph in two parts:

http://dorksideoftheforce.com/2015/06/03/meet-sana-solo-han-solos-wife-star-wars-6/

I am quite a believer that the Bible has been revised to such an extent by political forces over the years that it has lost much of its original meaning—so I don’t trust it.  One fine example is the missing Book of Enoch which would have been an important part of Genesis.  It is not considered by Jews and many other Christian groups to be part of the Biblical “canon” and knowing that one can only wonder what else has been left out, or added to the stories that have made three of the world’s religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims.  Like it or not, Star Wars has become something of a religion.  Another few hundred years and it will likely have more influence over mass populations than Christianity does today—and that all starts with these seemingly simple stories being shown in our lifetime.  So it concerned me greatly when Han Solo was introduced in Marvel #6 with a black wife—which I didn’t believe at the time.  My wife and I talked about it a bit, I was then involved in a large motorcycle accident which soaked up a lot of time and attention.  I was also involved in a massive international project that was taking a lot of time.  But my concern was so great that I stopped buying Star Wars merchandise at that moment.  I had been reading the books and comics to alleviate the daily pressure associated with my life.  But upon the release of Star Wars #6 under Marvel Comics, I stopped, immediately.

When Marvel took over the comics which were supposedly Pablo Hidalgo approved from the Star Wars story group six months earlier from Dark Horse I was curious that they didn’t show a desire to connect the story material between the two publishing conglomerates.  I didn’t let that bother me too much because comics I don’t consider to be as important as novels—especially the New York Times bestselling books that had taken over the Star Wars canon for two decades in a really positive way.  But under Disney’s ownership of Marvel they had introduced a black woman to be Han Solo’s wife in an effect to emphasize negative character traits of one of the most popular characters in Star Wars Solo was a white guy superman type of character, so I wondered if Disney’s direction was a political one.  Later when I saw The Force Awakens, it clarified it emphatically.   Disney had revised the Star Wars canon personally created by George Lucas to make the stories more progressive politically.  They were essentially destroying a major character for the sake of editing the impact the character had on established mythology.  This was equivalent to the way that progressives have attacked Thomas Jefferson as a real historic figure with the Sally Hemings allegations, or to attack Jesus and his relationship with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute in the Bible who traveled with Jesus and was there at his execution.  We have witnessed revised history taking place in our public schools and colleges for the purpose of erasing history and now it was happening in Star Wars—an entertainment property that was just supposed to be for fun.  Yet Disney was purposely destroying the character of Han Solo because of the impact he had on so many fans as being a very strong, and reliable character. My suspicions were confirmed at the beginning of September when a gay character was included in the new Star Wars novel Aftermath, which I reported a warning to Disney upon release.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW. 

I’m not against black characters in Star Wars, or even alternative sexual types.  However, Star Wars has always been an updated western, a space opera intended to communicate mythic stories that propelled our society with foundation philosophies.  Until Star Wars comic #6, then the novel Aftermath followed by the confirmation of all my concerns with the movie The Force Awakens, I felt I could trust Lucasfilm with a story canon that was personally managed by George Lucas.   I could read a story in a book or comic and believe that it had meaning to the overall collection of stories that had been canon until the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm from George Lucas.  Now in a very short time, Disney didn’t even try to cover their intentions with subtlety.   They disrespected the long-time fans so much that they counted on sheer numbers to justify their collective activism of taking a deeply traditional story like Star Wars and turning it into a progressive mess.  Disney was showing itself to be much more interested in selling the politics of the Obama White House than in just telling a story set in a galaxy far far away.   Disney was promoting gay sex and interracial marriages over protecting the value of what made Star Wars successful to begin with.  So for me, the only Star Wars canon is the one that took place before Disney took over.  The last official book in the Star Wars canon under the guidance of George Lucas was the very good book The Crucible.  It takes place 45 years after the Battle of Yavin in the film A New Hope  After watching A Force Awakens, which takes place around 15 years earlier I had thought that there was some time travel going on that gave the Star Wars story group an out if things went wrong with their progressive activism, but I’m now convinced that it’s too late.  Disney executives have made progressive concepts their priority which has ruined Star Wars forever, they can’t go back now—they are too committed.  Here is how The Crucible went and is officially the way that Han Solo and the other characters of the George Lucas canon rode off into the sunset of storytelling. 

http://www.starwarstimeline.net/

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes–and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

I have praised George Lucas often because I think he’s a great filmmaker.   He is too liberal for me, but I respect him greatly.  He does have a black wife, which I don’t think is a big deal and he supports Obama.  I gave high praise for his film Red Tails because it was an important story that needed to be told.   When he sold Star Wars to Disney he did it because he was 70 and wanted to retire—but he had a massive company with over 2000 employees.  It would have been better for Star Wars if Lucas would have just maintained control of his property, but then he couldn’t just let his employees rot—at least in his mind.  So he sold Star Wars to a corporation he thought might preserve it, and washed his hands of the responsibility of being a major employer.  I can understand all that.  I thought it was a good move so long as Disney respected what George Lucas had built.

There is a lot more of George Lucas in Han Solo than in any other character I think.  I’m sure George would say that he’s Artoo Detoo, or Yoda and that Star Wars is all about Luke Skywalker.  But Han Solo is the old drag racer that Lucas used to be—and in many ways still is.  I have read hundreds of Star Wars novels, most of them have Han Solo in the stories so I know the character very well—and he’s what George Lucas wanted to be.  And let me say, Han Solo would have never had a wife during A New Hope.  He had a long time girlfriend who was a drug addict prior to meeting Princess Leia, but he was not a sleep around.  He wanted to be as far away from attachments as possible to protect himself from the obligation of maintaining those relationships and violating his opportunities for freedom.  He wanted nothing more to limit his loyalties to his Wookie friend Chewbacca and to travel the galaxy in his hot rod Millennium Falcon.  Much of his gruffness toward others was an act, just as he deliberately kept the Millennium Falcon looking like a wreck to disguise the power within it—the ship was the embodiment of Han Solo himself.  Solo would have never had a wife, and once he did, he would have never left her. Han Solo is not the kind of character who gets drunk on Nar Shaddaa and wakes up with a wife.  Han Solo was the embodiment of all the cowboys that George Lucas grew up loving as a kid, and he created a character that modern kids could look up to.  That’s why he was always my favorite character, so it was very easy for me to see the revisionist history that Disney was attempting to perform without getting caught.  Only, they got caught.  I know too much about all this stuff not to see it.  I know Star Wars not just from the surface but the structure of it—where it all started from the perspective of the Joseph Campbell Foundation.  I was a member way back when George Lucas was on the Board with Campbell’s wife Jean running things.  I’m not just a fan boy who didn’t want to see Han Solo killed in The Force Awakens.  I’ve studied history and I know the impact of mythology, and why politics seeks to capture stories to control mass populations.  That’s what Disney is doing with Han Solo, destroying him so that they can rebuild him in a progressive way to satisfy their political activism.

Star Wars fans really want to like The Force Awakens.  I’m one of them.  My opinions as of now are in the extreme minority.  Just like a religion, when people find out something is wrong with a mythic device that contains all their foundation thoughts, people tend to get defensive—and some of that could be heard on the broadcast I did with Matt Clark on WAAM radio.  But being in the minority does not make me wrong.  A million fools cannot erase a truth and what Disney is doing will bite them in the ass—because they are changing essential portions of the Star Wars mythology to satisfy current political concerns.  But those concerns will change over the next 60 years and these gay subplots will seem silly to future readers—especially when they seek out the original stories under George Lucas and compare the activism that occurred under Disney.  Disney could have made a lot of money and done something really good by just leaving Star Wars alone and letting the profits from the endeavor follow.  But they chose to be activists politically—for progressive reasons.  Executives at Lucasfilm and Disney looked at Han Solo and noticed that he was a strong, traditional white male, and they wanted to dirty him up.  So they gave him a wife that he was cheating on, and she was a woman of color to make her more of a victim.  Then they had Han leave Leia in A Force Awakens to return to smuggling as if that was all Han Solo was ever good for without his marriage to a woman of stature and prestige.  They purposely muddied up the character to make a point and create more social diversity because that is their value system.  And that is why the Star Wars stories for me ended with The Crucible, a New York Times bestseller that has as much value to me as the novel Lord of the Rings, or The Bridges of Madison County.  Disney by corporate design to elevate minorities, gays, and women in their stories to appear more diverse, politically, took the strongest character in the Star Wars mythology and erased his essence with a revised canon that makes him into a scumbag more relatable to modern audiences.  We are living in an age where a lot of children cannot relate to a Han Solo type, a man who stays with his wife and is loyal to a fault. So Disney tried to weaken the character to appeal to younger audiences—but all they did was cause trouble for themselves.  I’m not the only fan who will reject their product.  Many others over the years to come will follow and Disney will only have themselves to blame.

For me this whole exercise has provided proof of something I’ve long suspected, that mythologies over time are radically redesigned by politics in all cultures to justify the failures of social mismanagement.   The Bible has certainly been altered over the years to reflect the values of the Roman Empire, and the churches of Europe who wanted to use religion as a natural extension of that imperial control.  Modern progressives are trying constantly to re-write history from the vantage point of the conquered Indian to erase the merits of cowboy capitalism in the West.  And China prohibits proper archaeological study of their many pyramid-shaped mounds to suppress the real history of their ancient culture.  Those are just a few examples.  And right in front of our faces we have watched Disney revise something in our lifetimes in spite of the many witnesses.  I read just the other day a defense of the movie A Force Awakens straying from the original plots created in the Expanded Universe by declaring that Solo had a wife in the EU.  No, Solo did not have a wife under the EU.  That plot device was created six months before the release of the 2015 Disney film to justify why Solo left Princess Leia after Return of the Jedi to become a typical white, American male—a Homer Simpson loser who can’t keep his pants on, and is unreliable to family life.  In Disney’s desire to make Star Wars more accessible to women, and minorities, they have deliberately tampered with what made Han Solo one of the most popular characters in the saga—and they did it out of political activism, not intellectual necessity.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

Why You Should Dump Disney Stock Now: The mistakes made on ‘Force Awakens’ will compound the failure of ESPN

On a day where every media outlet in the world is declaring the new Star Wars film an earth shattering success, I’ll take a little pride in being the only one to point at the doom on the horizon.  In a lot of ways I’ll admit hope, as often does happen—more than you’d think—that some executive at Disney will read what I write here and make the market corrections needed—and save the only company in the world truly dedicated to family entertainment.  But they won’t.  Disney is not run by a strong CEO like it was when Walt Disney ran the company years ago.  It’s now run by committees of people—and within those committees are people who seek such a management method because they lack personal courage.  Without personal courage and risk, the market potency of a company and its products surrenders box office appeal, and ultimately profits.  That is essentially what is wrong with the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.  As much as I wanted to like the film—and still do in fact—the business side of my brain sees more alarms going off in the cockpit of this starship than it can withstand.  Destruction is imminent.  So I’m headed for an escape pod before the entire thing falls apart.  If you have Disney stock, you should sell it right now because the value will tank very shortly and it will never recover.

Out of all the possibilities and horsepower of Lucasfilm—with all the talent at their disposal—they as a company elected to treat their long line of New York Times bestselling novels like a story treatment for a Hollywood movie.  The writing was on the wall when they released the comic series The Star Wars two years ago by Dark Horse comics justifying their decisions to mine the expanded universe and re-write it putting their committee stamp on the material proclaiming that what they did was better.  Rather than sit down with a good writer like Lawrence Kasdan is and have him write completely new material, like he did for the Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lucasfilm under Kathy Kennedy decided to make a reboot of A New Hope and populate it with what the “Star Wars Story Group” thought was the greatest hits of the long series of novels which had been produced carefully with George Lucas over two decades.  When they released the comic series showing how the original Star Wars script had evolved over time and necessity they were trying to justify what they were about to do hoping to sell their work as authentic.  What they did was infinitely disappointing.  At that point in time I had been buying all the comics and books I could get and was reading them all.  But when I realized what was happening, I just stopped waiting to see if Disney would do as I feared and just mine the stories that meant something very wonderful to many of the hard-core fans, or if they’d actually continue the story into new territory—which for me was the only justifiable option.   They picked the most lazy path possible at a great insult to the fans who kept the market value of Star Wars alive for so long.

The Force Awakens of course made a lot of money—it shattered records that Hollywood may never see again.  There was tremendous pent-up multi generational desire to see a new Star Wars film. So everyone who could went to see the movie over its opening weekend.  If I didn’t know better I would have thought it was a good movie–it had all the elements present, but it was clearly missing something.  That something was the conviction that a risk taking proprietor brings to a project—a leader who has put their reputation and soul on the line to make a product which clearly marked the first two Star Wars films—was missing.  The makers of The Force Awakens were happy young people writing stories from the comfort of Lucasfilm employment and the politics of the very progressive city of San Francisco.  Like spoiled brats driving their dad’s Mercedes out for a night at the country club to socialize at a charity function thinking they were saving the world—they made Star Wars: The Force Awakens without taking any real risks and mining the material of risk takers who came before them hoping that nobody would notice.  I did, and so did many other hard-core Star Wars fans upon leaving the theater for the first time.  When the fun dies down and these fans will think about what they’ve seen, Disney will find that they now have a dreadfully divided audience because of their choices which will dramatically affect the market share potential of all the future Star Wars films.  It will hurt their book sales, their merchandise, and their box office take for all subsequent films.  What they essentially did was brought Star Wars down to the level of the latest Star Trek movies—or the Avengers films.  They might make decent money, but Disney executives are planning on insane money—and they’ll need it to survive—because other aspects of Disney’s business portfolio has been wavering in these changing economic times.

Here’s how the Hollywood Reporter announced the pending doom on Friday December 18th as The Force Awakens opened to hungry fans across the world:

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens made $57 million domestically Thursday, enough to set a record but not to satiate Wall Street’s fears over Walt Disney’s television business.

In midday trading on Friday, Disney shares were off 4 percent, twice that of the broader markets, as the conglomerate was the topic of at least two negative research notes in the past two days.

On Friday, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield downgraded Disney to “sell” and put a $90 price target on the stock, suggesting it will fall about 17 percent in the next 52 weeks or so.

“Even The Force cannot protect ESPN,” Greenfield wrote, accusing management of “overpaying for sports rights based on overly aggressive multichannel video subscriber projections.”

Greenfield says Disney’s cable network operating income will shrink in fiscal-year 2017, causing total Disney operating income to be flat.

He also says Disney damaged its long-term prospects for cable in general “by aggressively licensing content to SVOD platforms such as Netflix to prop up near-term earnings.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/walt-disney-stock-tumbles-as-850171

While the numbers look impressive at first glance, because of the changing market of the other business interests, such as ESPN and how cable subscribers are dumping their subscriptions in favor of Internet service for their smart phones the media empire of Disney is too reliant on Star Wars to save it from the downsides it’s facing.  The Marvel movies are beginning to fade as the newness of them is wearing away.  By the time Captain America: Civil War hits in 2016, the franchise will be in clear decline as a box office force.  The savor was always going to be Star Wars—and now they’ve screwed that up dividing the fan’s loyalties between a re-tread and the authentic novels.

It is always dangerous to base a movie off a book, because the reader often sees things differently than a film’s director.  As long as a movie producer stays close to the source material, often things are forgiven.  But regarding Star Wars, where the franchise was kept alive with cooperation between Del Rey publishing and Lucasfilm in close contact with George Lucas approving story details the novels were like the Bible and took on a meaning that Disney obviously didn’t understand.  After all, they had been re-writing great literary classics for years, so they had no problem changing things around to suit their market appraisal for the films they wanted to produce.

By insisting that the movies were cannon and not the books which were designed to connect the original movies with fresh material ultimately created by individual authors under the guidance of Lucasfilm—the creative team behind The Force Awakens assumed incorrectly that fans would forgive them.  Some will, but not everyone, and for Disney to succeed in this venture they needed everyone.  And when the smoke clears around The Force Awakens, they won’t have everyone.  And that means financial doom on the horizon within the next five years for Disney as a company.   Bob Iger will leave the next CEO at Disney with a terrible burden and there will be no recovery from it. With other aspects of the company losing money, such as ESPN based on inflated sports contracts, it needs a new explosion in growth which Star Wars was supposed to bring.

The Force Awakens felt like a small movie after reading about gigantic events in the novels over the years.  The sheer scale of the Star Wars novels would have had enormous production costs to duplicate on film.  I’m sure Lucasfilm made the decision to do what they did on The Force Awakens based on the vast number of characters that were in the Star Wars novels—which ultimately brings up the question should a novel be cannon or is the movie a superior product?  I clearly think what is written in a novel is the cannon in every case.  Movies are dumbed-down versions of books.  I can’t think of too many books that were made into movies that were overshadowed by the film version.   Star Wars started as a fresh movie experience, but it evolved into a literary journey which became much more powerful than the original films.  Lucasfilm made the mistake by trying to reverse that trend, and make a movie by committee instead of individuals and throwing out parts of the series which were too big to project on the silver screen.  Rather than trying to do that, they watered down a product that millions had fallen in love with and banked Disney’s future on the result.

Taken by itself Star Wars within Disney will hold its own financially.  The films will do fine, the merchandise will be respectable, and the other intellectual work will likely still sell for years to come.  But because of where the company as a whole is, with ESPN failing, the Avengers movies in decline, and the lack of new musicals coming from their children films every three years-Disney has serious problems.  It would have taken all the Star Wars fans to save them—and they clearly don’t have them all.  The Force Awakens proves it.  That problem won’t show itself immediately, but will begin to show up in their repeat business numbers within a month of the release.

Kathy Kennedy should have known better. On Twitter the Star Wars people put out a tag line when The Force Awakens opened showing Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon declaring “we’re home.”   They were clearly marketing Harrison Ford’s return to the role of Han Solo to push the box office numbers over the top.  I replied to Kennedy’s tweet the reality of what I felt.  I said,” Yeah, we’re only home for the funeral.”  It was stunning to me with all their build-up that they killed off Han Solo, so to me, The Force Awakens became like going home to a funeral to visit family you hadn’t seen in a while—and likely may never see after.   We all knew that Han Solo would die in the movies at some point in time, but in the books he was still performing heroic acts 45 years after A New Hope, so if they had not gone back in time and killed off Han Solo and could have kept the heroics of his novel adventures intact in the canon, it would have been much more digestible.  Instead they not only killed Han Solo, but the best that hard-core Star Wars fans had fallen in love with–an epic story on a truly galactic scale.  What they gave us in The Force Awakens was the death of a favorite character and a highlight reel of the novels—stories we already knew—all chopped up and spit out with new names and a much smaller frame of reference.   Then to insist that an inferior product was the new canon spelled huge problems for the future of Star Wars which will compound into a much worse situation than what Disney is seeing currently with ESPN.   And I wish it wasn’t the case, because I love Disney and really wanted it to succeed.  But they made all the mistakes that they shouldn’t have—and arrogantly stood by those mistakes to the bitter end.

I don’t know if there is a way that Disney could fix the situation now.  I’m afraid it’s too late.  But maybe there is a way they can appeal to the hard-core fans before things get out of control.  They should try for the sake of everyone—mostly themselves.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

Sign up for Second Call Defense here:  http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707  Use my name to get added benefits.

‘The Force Awakens’ Killed off Han Solo: Why the prequels were a lot better and how Disney blew it

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssed off, that is the feeling I have walking out of The Force Awakens.  

Sadly, the news I was so excited about three years ago regarding the new Star Wars film is tragic—the worst of what I feared might happen, did.  Taken by itself, The Force Awakens is a very good movie, the acting is good, the special effects everything that you’d expect, the directing, the writing all very good—then there’s the music by John Williams—upper level wonder.  Unfortunately for Disney, Star Wars is much more than one movie now and Disney did exactly the wrong thing.  Like rumored, they abandoned the Expanded Universe and they killed off Han Solo in the first movie of a three-part trilogy which was my favorite character.  While on the business side I can understand why they did—Harrison Ford was 73 at the start of The Force Awakens, so it’s not a bad idea to start planting the seeds for future characters.  However, killing off Solo without having the context of the greater story developed over the last two decades is extremely problematic for the Star Wars franchise.  Here’s why.

About 15 years ago a super Star Wars fan was talking to me about the novels that came out every few months and wondered why I wasn’t reading them.  I explained that if the books didn’t come straight from the mind of George Lucas that I didn’t consider them part of the Star Wars canon.  However, the novels leaned very much on the character of Han Solo and his marriage to Princess Leia and their three children Jaina Jacen and Anakin.  So figured I’d give the books a try.  I had tried the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn and couldn’t accept it, but decided to try again with Vector Prime.  It was a great book—although Chewbacca died—and I was hooked.  I have since read most of the Expanded Universe novels which have greatly over-shadowed the original movies in sheer content and emotional story arcs.

I thought there was a whale of a story developing at the end of Apocalypse involving The Abeloth and that The Force Awakens would be about that massive galactic conflict—which would have been great.  Disney could have given the hard-core Star Wars fans what they wanted while giving a new generation of fans what they wanted.  The old characters could have faded out leaving the new very strong character of Jaina Solo to have filled the boots of her father nicely—and that would have been appropriate.  Everyone could have had what they wanted out of Star Wars.  But that’s not what Disney did with the help of J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy.  They thought they knew better than all the minds who had been guiding the Star Wars stories through three decades of New York Times best sellers so they screwed with the story with a progressive agenda which was the worst of my fears.

If they had stayed with the Expanded Universe storyline, they could have still had a Latino lead character, a black character and a strong female lead to reach all their target demographics.  But they did more than that—they weakened Han Solo considerably and made him a self-sacrificial parent who threw himself on the sword of Kylo Ren at the end.  He and his marriage to Leia obviously went bad and the kids were damaged leading to his son (Ben) turning to evil.  Suddenly the very strong characters of the Expanded Universe were modernized into dysfunctional parents who had screwed up their children and felt guilty about it.  At the end of The Force Awakens, “General Leia” is alone with no signs of family—except the daughter Rey to find out who she truly is.  This is probably the most disappointing aspect of The Force Awakens—in the novels the son of Han, Jacen falls to the dark side over many books and his intentions were always good.  Han stayed with his wife for many years and they had a pretty good family life.  Han was always a rock solid person in those stories giving Star Wars geeks the father figure they didn’t have in real life—and it worked well in a mythological way.  The daughter Jaina was the new light of the next generation—The Sword of the Jedi.

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan essentially took the big themes of the novels and retold the story of Jacen’s fall to the dark side moving around the names of the characters and having him confront his sister—in an epic lightsaber battle.  Knowing all that felt cheap to me.  It took Star Wars from an epic pinnacle of the highest mythological order and dumbed it down to be simply another Avengers movie.  It was fun to look at, but the content was certainly watered down from the types of bold stories that were told in the novels.  I will probably see future Star Wars movies just to see what they do and how they look—like I would a superhero type of film—the many times the Batman story has been told, or Spiderman—even Superman.  But with Star Wars, Disney had a unique opportunity to build on a massive story arc, and they screwed it up—rehashing the old by putting their own stamp on it in a way that did a disservice to the fans who helped carry the franchise for so long with their loyal support.  Clearly the emphasis by Disney and Kathleen Kennedy was to weaken the original characters from the bold embodiments of their youth into guilt driven losers in the future—which might make them relatable to a larger audience who feels the same anxieties.  Of course they had to plant the seeds of an interracial romance—which felt forced—and was distracting.  Han returned to his days as a smuggler instead of the reliable family man that he was in the books.  Luke was in hiding feeling guilt for creating Kylo Ren though his failure in teaching future Jedi—which in the books Luke had built an entirely new Jedi Order.  In the books all the lead characters were strong and determined personalities who had suffered through unimaginable sorrows, but were still people a reader could lean on and trust to do the right thing in the end.  In The Force Awakens it is obvious that the all the old characters were flawed, especially Han Solo.  This was obviously a conscious choice to make him more relatable to the modern viewing audience instead of just trusting the story the way it had evolved over the years with great success.

There has been an effort from The Alliance to Save the Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe shown at the link below to save the storyline of these movie from just this kind of misery.  But, Disney didn’t listen and they’ll pay for that.  The Force Awakens will make a lot of money, but it won’t be as much as they could have made.  They just handed the next generation a bunch of loser characters not quite sure of themselves putting an emphasis on progressive values instead of American traditional ones.  The Force Awakens is about sacrifice and the greater good whereas a theme which always ran through the original trilogy was individualism and following a personal bliss.  Han Solo as the individual always had the answers to save the Luke and Leias of the galaxy from their altruistic tendencies.  In The Force Awakens it is Han Solo that needs saving from his guilt over failing their son in ways that aren’t yet shown.  Essentially the decision to turn Han Solo from an Ayn Rand type of character into a Shakespearian tragedy was meant to erase his lineage of strength into something modern audiences could identify with.

https://www.facebook.com/AlliancetoSavetheStarWarsLegendsExpandedUniverse

http://twibbon.com/support/star-wars-legends-never-die

The result for me, and I’m sure many others, is that I completely reject these new stories by Disney.   I just came out of seeing a premier showing before it opened officially on December 18th 2015 and my sorted emotions tell me that this story in The Force Awakens is not real.  I can’t accept it as cannon.  It’s actually pretty stupid.  It represents another case of activist filmmakers trying to plant progressive Huffington Post values into a very traditional American story for the sake of unifying the world around common values.  To do that they dumbed down the American influences of individuality, and created a much more “inclusive” universe that was the obvious intent they had in making the film.  People like Arianna Huffington will love this new Star Wars.  John Wayne would have hated it.

I can deal with the death of my favorite character.  What I have a problem with is weakening their presence out of a desire to appeal to a weakened society—where movies are made by committee rather than by strong individuals.  The Force Awakens obviously understands that few people have intact families these days and that people can’t relate to the type of strength that Han Solo projected which has carried the franchise quite frankly for forty years.  They made a conscious decision to weaken Solo—hand over the Millennium Falcon to a “girl” (his daughter) and reflect the values of the present global community instead of the values of the story itself.  They cheapened Star Wars in ways that will be very costly in the years to come.  So while the movie was beautiful to look at and had many elements that are respectable on the surface, the underlining message was feeble and a tremendous disservice to the fans who have stuck with the story religiously all these years.  Star Wars had a chance to be above modern politics, but the filmmakers failed to carry it to those lofty heights.  Instead, they surrendered to the currents of modernism—and the movie shows it desperately.  The movie felt to me like a fake and something to reject—which is not what Disney wanted, I’m sure.  Forever for me, and many like me, there will always be the Expanded Universe where Han didn’t leave his wife and fail his children with some “force bending” scheme of time to save his daughter from the wrath of her brother, Han’s failed son—and the Jedi master Luke who lost his pupil to the dark side.  I’m sure there is a story of redemption in the next episodes, but by then—who cares.  Disney already screwed up the story with renamed characters and repeated themes which were already told in the novels years ago.  And in that respect, The Force Awakens fails in every way that it never intended.

The prequels were a LOT better.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

http://www.secondcalldefense.org/?affiliate=20707