While watching Brad Bird’s new movie Tomorrowland, one of the only things I could think about was how Conservatives are not gonna like it. I know that paints a large group of people with a broad brush and there will be some open minded conservatives who happen to also be Disney fans, that will likely enjoy it, but for the most part it is a movie that operates in the opposition of a corporate and greed driven world.
As a Disney fan, I was very excited for this movie. As a Disney historian, I was VERY excited for this movie. I felt like throughout the entire trailer and previews that this movie was made for ME. It isn’t often that my core obsessions get to join hands and be in a movie together.
What are my core obsessions you ask?
Science and Technology
Inter dimensional/time travel
This makes up most of my nerd core. My favorite movies are the Back to the Future movies. I love Star Wars. Star Trek. Neil Degrass Tyson. Bill Nye The Science Guy. I know so much about the 1964 World’s Fair you’d think I was there. (I was born in 1985) And then of course Disney. The glue that holds together all of my whimsy and hope for a cynical world. I never thought those 4 things would ever intersect. But then they made Tomorrowland.
It feels awkward to bring Politics into my Disney fandom. I don’t want my blog to be divisive. I don’t want people that are conservatives to paint me as a liberal and never take me seriously again. I suppose I’m realizing I try and hide my liberalism, because in central Florida, it’s just not something you tout. There are many crazies among us, and I have been accosted in the past for bumper stickers. Even after being threatened by a dude in a drive through, the cop investigating that situation asked me, “What did you expect having a bumper sticker that reads, “Republicans for Voldemort”?” I’m not even gonna apologize for that one. It’s perfect. I expect to not be threatened with murder, but you know…
So why is Tomorrowland Not a Movie for Conservatives?
Warning! There be Spoilers Ahead! General movie plot spoilers.
Before I even get into the movie. This movie stars George Clooney. My own conservative family loathes him. The very same people who gave me my Disney obsession wanted nothing to do with this movie because they hate everything George stands for. If you don’t know, George Clooney was quoted as saying,
“I’m a liberal. I’m confused when that became a bad word…the liberal movement morally, you know, has stood on the right side of an awful lot of issues. We thought that blacks should be allowed to sit at the front of the bus and women should be able to vote, McCarthy was wrong, Vietnam was a mistake.”
I don’t think that sounds all that liberal. And maybe that’s my point. Reality has a pretty liberal bias. But don’t tell Fox News that!
Now as a little twist, we find out that George Clooney’s character, Frank Walker has grown up to become a cynic. It happens to the best of us. The world beats you down and the hope and whimsy leave. There must not be a Disney to visit in Frank Walker’s world.
I must interject to say that this idea fuels my Disney obsession. As barren as *some* of the parks are these days, it’s easy to be a cynic. But Disney still provides me with that escape from reality. I really enjoy the concept of creating the Western Frontier and then exploring it in 2015. Or a turn of the century town. It’s almost living history.
So what turned Frank (George) into a cynic? Well, when he was a boy, he went to the 1964 World’s Fair. (LUCKY!) and not only did he go, but he brought an invention to showcase. When we learn that his invention doesn’t work, we learn the message of this movie. That just the idea, that someone could build something amazing, or dare I say, impossible, could inspire others to do the same.
Over the course of the movie we learn that the future is bleak. That (literally) thanks to capitalism and greed, the world will come to an end. A machine is built by Frank in an alternative reality future, Tomorrowland, that allows you to see the future or the past. To fast forward or rewind and see anything you’d like. And here this stops being science fiction and starts to become reality. Climate Change. Fossil Fuels. Oil Spills. Chemical Spills. Pollution. The Environment. Riots. Civil unrest. We learn that these man-made problems will be what ends it all. We’ve done it to ourselves. This is a reality many liberal-minded people are facing today. That if we do not turn around the Greed machine, our planet is in danger.
We also learn that the cause of bleak future syndrome is all around us. And Oh Em Gee this hits home. The other star of the movie, Casey, played by Britt Robertson, is touted as one of the last people left with optimism. In her spare time she vandalizes cranes that dismantle the loading platforms for spaceships. She’s pretty butthurt about the space program being abandoned, especially since it’s putting her rocket scientist dad out of work. We learn that Casey has a thing for the stars. She was born with a sense of wonder (well, we all are) and nothing had squashed it yet. Ahh the “world is your oyster” feeling of your late teen years.
Casey figures out that this Future/Past viewing machine is only showing us a future based on the collective thought process, and that the negative thinking is amplified. And the more that people think the world is doomed and set to end soon, the quicker that “prophecy” is becoming fulfilled.
Woah. Now there isn’t any device that allows us to see the future, but what a social commentary. The difference in how we see the future now, versus how we saw it in the 1960’s is all around us. The age of information has brought us facts and science, readily available at our fingertips, but many people lack the critical thinking skills to separate fact from opinion. Walt Disney built a whole land dedicated to Tomorrow.
He even had companies like Monsanto showcasing science. And as bad as Monsanto is, we once lived in a world where people were interested in hearing what they had to say. Where we valued the Research and Development teams at various companies so much, that they got together every few years to showcase what they learned. Collectively, we don’t seem to value R&D anymore. People are cynical. My fiance and I readily face criticism when we excitedly bring science to people. We hear “Oh great another fact from Stephenie” or “Where’d you read that, the internet? Can’t believe everything you read on the internet”
But I read a lot of scientific journals. I enjoy the scientific community’s process of, I have a theory. I will test the theory. The theory is true. I will let others test the theory. I will write about these tests and allow them to be peer reviewed. Once peer reviewed, it is fact, until someone brings about a new theory. This is how we have The theory of relativity. The theory of gravity. Theory, in the science community, does not mean untested.
Walt Disney was a person who believed in science. He was excited about what was to come. He was optimistic. But I’ve felt, through my own Disney journey, that when Walt Disney died, the dream of the future died with it. We never got Epcot Center the city. The organizer of some of the greatest ideas of our time, had done a great job surrounding himself with talent, but there was no one to replace the unbridled optimism that Walt Disney had.
So at the point in the movie that they show our world, real footage I assume, of religious riots, floods, earthquakes, the effects of climate change. I cried. The movie became reality. Only we don’t have a Tomorrowland. We don’t even have Frank Walker or Casey Newton. We don’t have a Walt Disney. And our future looks bleak.
In the movies world, they of course, overthrow the negativity machine, and go about restoring Tomorrowland and populating it with the dreamers of the world. And thus you are encouraged to be a dreamer. To make the world a better place. We are shown the types of people they’re bringing to Tomorrowland. It includes street musicians, scientists, artists, teachers and more. They didn’t bring any politicians. Or religious leaders. They brought people actually doing something to make the world a better place.
There is a quote towards the end of the movie that took my breath away. I will likely see it again and will write it down, as the internet doesn’t have it yet.But I say, let Tomorrowland encompass you. While Walt is never mentioned in the movie, this is his movie. About the spirit of optimisim and the future.
As I think of our current political environment here in America, I’m saddened that the pictures of wind farms, the view of the future that depicts climate change, and other “liberal” ideas will turn off half of the country, and they will feel uncomfortable and likely not believe in Tomorrowland as a result.
Tomorrowland left me with feverish optimism and tickled me because I am a dreamer. I am someone actively working at making this world a better place. I embrace science and technology. I think capitalism has run it’s course. I believe in the idea that we can create a place where the dreamers come together and change the world. That place is the internet, not Tomorrowland.
If you read this or saw the movie and agree with me, and consider yourself a Conservative. Maybe you aren’t one. Conservatism is defined as:
Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of the culture and civilization.
- A general preference for the existing order of society, and an opposition to efforts to bring about sharp change.
Similarly to my thoughts on how it’s impossible to be a Conservative and a Christian (Mostly because Jesus wants you to help the poor) I’m not sure we’re getting the same things out of our Disney obsessions if you’re conservative. And that’s fine, we all experience Disney differently.
But I think, as Disney obsessives, we can be the people on this earth that fight for change. Tomorrowland woke me up inside a little bit, and I’m sure that’s what it was meant to do. If we want Disney to build us a new Tomorrowland at Disneyland and at Magic Kingdom, let’s be the change. Let’s be the community of dreamers. Let’s be Walt. Let’s let our entire lives encourage others to dream, to invent, to solve problems and to make a better world.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
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