Martha Thomases: Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow
Tomorrowland didn’t do as well as expected this weekend in theaters. Some people celebrated this fact, apparently believing that the movie was the brainchild of George Clooney and that it was a propaganda film about climate change.
They must have seen a different movie than I did.
I’ll admit that, like the Big Hollywood website, I went to the theater with my own set of assumptions and biases. Tomorrowland is my favorite area in the Disney parks, the first place I wanted to go the first time I went (in 1979). I love the work of director Brad Bird, and have since The Family Dog.
And, yeah, I have the hots for George Clooney and I think climate change is an issue deserving action. Only the first of those affects my ticket-buying decisions.
So, the Disney nerd in me loved the movie. But, more important to this column, so did the comics fan.
Because I love the future. I remember when everybody did.
You see, one of the themes of Tomorrowland is that we, as a society, have become too enthralled with pessimistic stories and fleeting fads. Instead of wallowing in disaster movies (like this) or dystopian dramas (like this), we should work together to make the future better.
Look, it’s really normal for adolescents to be drawn to the “grim’n’gritty” dystopias. And, by “normal,” I mean that I did it. For me, devastated that I was not only the center of the universe but my parents weren’t all-powerful and my body was doing strange things that involved icky fluids, it seemed that pessimism was the more sophisticated viewpoint. I wasn’t a little kid anymore, with bright colors and flowers and candy. No, I wore black and I was sullen. If the cool kids (the jocks and the cheerleaders) wouldn’t have me as one of their own, I was going to act as if I rejected them first.
And then I grew up.
Look, I still like a lot of things that can seem pessimistic. Blade Runner remains one of my favorite movies, based on the work of Philip K. Dick, a rather depressing writer whom like a lot. I like punk rock and Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. I like Transmetropolitan and The Dark Knight Returns.
The older I get, however, the more I want hope. And that hope lies in the future.
Comics helped me with this. Adam Strange not only engaged with an alien world, but fell in love and married an alien. The Legion of Super-Heroes posited a time when the whole universe would band together to make life better.
A lot of today’s best comics come from a hopeful place. I’d include Saga and Sex Criminals and even Bitch Planet as works that rouse the spirit.
Another science fiction writer I enjoy, William Gibson, is sometimes credited as one of the founders of the cyberpunk movement, which often painted a bleak future. His most recent book, The Peripheral, has it’s share of dystopian prophecy, but ends up (SPOILER, maybe?) making the case that we can change the future. We can make the world better.
A better world is worth the effort. Especially if it includes George Clooney.