FILM POLITICS-Having just seen the Disney movie "Tomorrowland", and having become disillusioned with the lackluster present-day version of Tomorrowland at both Disneyland and Disneyworld, I was both touched by a message of the movie as well as saddened by the conclusion that very few of those who saw the movie will really "get it", as w ell as equally saddened by how those "getting that message" will probably ignore or dismiss it.
We live in the year 2015, when the futuristic world of "Back to the Future 2" took place. Seen any flying cars or high-technology paradise to enrich our lives lately?
Were you one of those sci-fi nerds who watched the 1970's TV series "Space: 1999" that described a Moonbase Alpha, or the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Do you remember how American history professor (and, of course, former controversial House Speaker, with both his shares of honors and disgraces) Newt Gingrich was laughed out of the 2012 GOP primary because he proposed a NASA initiative to create a moonbase?
Whether it was Star Trek or the Jetsons, we were SUPPOSED to have an Americanized and polyracial world, a democratic and tolerant world, and a world that did not tolerate political correctness but respected both the cultures of others with an open mind...as well as the free speech to debate the merits of such cultures.
Fast forward to today, when the emphasis on special effects and money-making of our sci-fi movies have eclipsed any chance of an uplifting message to galvanize the American public into creating a better world:
1) Goodbye, catharsis and touching messages of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits"...and hello to all the zombie and vampire series that are merely soap operas with titillating emphases on kinky sex and gore-soaked, lusty landscapes.
2) Goodbye, Republican resolve and Democratic open-mindedness, and hello to the cynical boundaries thrown up between communities, an emphasis on racial and economic polarization and how America is "all wrong".
3) Goodbye, John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Walt Disney, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Jimmy Stewart...and hello, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and a host of reality TV shows and alternate gamer realities that suck all the interests and energies away from how our own lives should be more fulfilling and interesting in the real world.
And as the "Tomorrowland" movie emphasized, the fear of how the world was racing towards political, military and environmental destruction (and how it should be avoided and confronted) was eclipsed by the world's delight in how "cool" it was (and perhaps how profitable it could be):
1) The concerns about our California drought are made so much worse by those who appear to delight in brown lawns and higher food/water costs (either for political or economic purposes).
After all, where is the effort to create a canal system with multiple reservoirs to link the Mississippi and/or other rivers with a spigot that can mitigate Midwest flooding and restore California's water to grow food and create new communities?
2) The concerns about climate change and other challenging environmental impacts are made so much worse by those who delight in telling others what to do, what they can say, how they should live, and how that connected few can profit off of it.
After all, where is the glory of emphasizing how technology has made new clusters of middle-class populations in the Third World, and of how we can create new technologies to clean up our world, and of how promoting women's rights allows for right-sized families, economic opportunities and sustainable population growth throughout the entire planet?
3) The concerns about West vs. East, North vs. South, Christian vs. Muslim are made so much worse by those who seek to profit off of it, and who hate religion altogether, and who emphasize differences while rejecting and belittling those examples of when we did and still do come together for a common purpose.
After all, where is the mention of how our American military did and still do support engaging in our foreign conflicts because they wanted to help the oppressed in foreign lands, and of how Asian and Western nations are coming together in economic and political unity, and of how the peoples of some Mideast/Muslim countries are truly fighting for democracy and human rights in ways heretofore presumed impossible?
In short, and to summarize, the movie "Tomorrowland" gives voice to that oft-ignored question that keeps getting dismissed, belittled, marginalized and demeaned when we discuss the many problems plaguing our world:
"Can we fix it?"
We used to presume that the answer to that question was a resounding "YES!" Dare we dream to presume that positive resolve once again in our cynical nation and in our fractured world?
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 13 Issue 47
Pub: Jun 9, 2015