Tomorrowland is Infectiously Optimistic and Helps You to Keep Giving a Damn

George Clooney in Disney's optimistic movie
George Clooney in Disney’s optimistic movie Tomorrowland

Though I had enjoyed all of the previews I’d seen for Tomorrowland, I was skeptical going in. Mostly that was from seeing so many bad reviews and knowing that it did poorly in its opening weekend. However, having now seen it, I don’t understand why so many are so down on this movie.

Tomorrowland provides exactly what we need right now: hope. It’s easy to become jaded and cynical after so many years of having the conservatives (and even some who claim to be progressive) try to roll the calendar back at least 50 years here in the United States. In fact, there’s likely a fair number of people throughout the Western World who want a bright future for humanity and are feeling like their every good effort is being thwarted. If that’s you, or someone you love, go see Tomorrowland. You’ll leave the theater feeling a bit more optimistic about the world’s capacity to change and in an individual’s ability to change the future for the better. Not to mention you’ll get to see Hugh Laurie play a pompous Brit and get his just desserts in the end.

***BEGIN SPOILER ALERT*** Okay, for those of you who either aren’t planning to see the movie or don’t mind spoilers here’s the premise (which you don’t actually learn until about ⅔ of the way through the movie): what if you knew that there was a terrible catastrophe coming but people not only wouldn’t heed your warning but actually made your prediction into a pop culture obsession? Would you become fatalistic, resign yourself to its occurrence, and try to insulate yourself from the effects of the catastrophe? Or, would you choose to be optimistic and doggedly work to change things? That’s, ultimately, the question the movie confronts you with. The movie urges you to choose optimism but shows that even the most optimistic can become fatalistic and uncaring. ***END SPOILER ALERT***

Western society is facing a number of significant challenges right now that, if they continue to be handled as they currently are, will cause catastrophes unlike any of us have known in our lifetimes or the lifetimes of our living relatives. Religious fundamentalism seeks to reassert itself in society, businesses and the über wealthy have gained control of the levers of power, climate change is continuing unabated, and cultural regressives want to take away all the progress that’s been made during the 20th Century toward making the world fair, just, and equitable.

Right now it would be really easy, especially here in the US, to just throw up your hands in despair and either become a Prepper or live with your head in the sand. But, there’s always an alternative. Right now those seeking to restore the secular nature of our society are being greeted by successes on several fronts. Right now there are people organizing to get money back out of politics. Right now there are people organizing to elect an openly socialist president. Right now activists are taking to the street to fight on new fronts in the wars on racism and sexism. Right now members of the LGBTQ community are in process of winning the national right to marry the person they love, regardless of gender. Right now can be a very hopeful time in which to live, but, if we want hope, the one thing we can’t do is merely document the disasters as they happen and, when they come, stand back to say “See! I told you disaster was coming!” And, in the end, the characters in the movie choose to be optimistic and to proceed with hope. The question left to us here in the real world is will we do the same?

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