Oh, Disney. Tomorrowland combines so much of what I love about you. The wonderment of the Disney aesthetic, special effects that make you wish they were real, characters that everyone can relate to, totally convoluted senseless plots — the whole shebang. And, I would recommend everyone (with or without kids) go check out Tomorrowland.
But, once you walk out of the theater and the magic of Disney wears off, you may be left feeling a little forlorn. Let me tell you why: the problem is that despite Disney’s gigantuan attempts to tell a happily ever after movie, Tomorrowland is not a happy movie.
The fundamental premise: that without the bureaucracy of industrialization and governmental organization science and technology would be so much further along than anything we can possibly predict is, at its root, pessimistic. The flip side of the utopian coin is that Disney believes that here, in this version of Earth, that kind of research is not possible.
Well, buck up, because I’m here to tell you Tomorrowland totally discounts the incredible speed with which science and technology has changed since science and technology became an organized endeavor. Not everyone can be Edison or Tesla. Scientific and technological change takes more than a single individual. The Wright Bros. may have created the first viable plane, but they didn’t create commercial air travel. Tomorrowland encapsulates the magic of discovery, but it ignores the hard work of everyday scientists.
It’s also incredibly naive: who the hell is funding Tomorrowland? (The place in the movie, not the actual movie) Now, I’m not saying you need to go into a detailed financial accounting in a movie, but you made a point of explaining that the success of Tomorrowland was because of its remove from the bureaucracy of industry and government. Well, without industry OR government…umm, what’s left? Philanthropy? Santa Claus? Are they funding their Utopia by selling their technologies to our normal dimension Earth? Well then, why don’t I have freakin’ jet pack? See the problem?
Here’s the thing, you could have solved this issue by looking to the sci fi channel’s Eureka. A quick nod to governmental support, or industrial support — whichever particularly ideology you subscribe to — and you no longer look like naive jerks. A quick peek at a lab setting where the scientists created these joyful technologies, and it’s no longer unattainable magic, it’s a dramatization of the real ongoing work that is happening in labs around the world everyday.
You may also walk out of Tomorrowland feeling a little irritated. We can help you with this one, too: the premise of the movie is incredibly hypocritical. Also, this is totally a spoiler.
Basically the root of the movie is that the negativity of mass media is making us all feel impotent to stop the impending environmental, nuclear, or other man-made disaster sure to end the planet. That without such constant reinforcement we could break through the apathy to better ourselves and our little blue marble. But, what organization do you think bears a significant responsibility for that negativity? Oh, do you think it may be the second largest media corporation on that planet? Ohai, Disney. You might want to keep the paternalistic condescension about how terrible mass media is to a minimum when you’re the literally the second biggest purveyor of negativity in the world.
So, yes, go see Tomorrowland. It really does have many of the elements that make Disney movies the kind of classics we talk about for generations, but remember the moral of the story: the media, personified by a mouse with big ears, is an echo chamber of negativity that will cause armageddon.