If you were young and impressionable and immersed yourself in the films that have been coming out in recent years, you might think the world will soon be a terrifying and horrific place.
In the "Hunger Games," youth are forced to kill each other.
In "Divergent," youth are wrangled to live in factions that are being manipulated by the big bad.
And in "Mad Max: Fury Road," the setting is a post-apocalyptic wasteland where it's every man for himself.
In each of these crazy popular franchises (there's already talk of a "Mad Max 2"), the future is a dystopian nightmare with scarce resources, societies run by greed and a lust for power and are set in bleak imagery of ruined and dreary communities. While each narrative takes place in a land of no hope, the protagonists are all burdened with an intense (and often deadly) struggle for survival. And it sucks.
Disney's "Tomorrowland" is not that kind of movie. While there are a few implied moments of doom and gloom, the message of the film takes the dystopia genre and turns it on its head. "Tomorrowland" is full of hope—something that has been missing in films as of late. It is all about optimism as found through thinkers, doers and dreamers.
The epic adventure film, which opened recently, follows a bright and tenacious young woman who is thrust into a fantastic journey that includes (in no particular order): robots, a utopian society, rocket jets, magical pins and George Clooney. Sure, she could easily give in to the doom and gloom messaging that she's being bombarded with and become just another apathetic teen. But Casey's not that kind of girl. Instead she is filled with the above-mentioned optimism. Her big question is "What can we do?" She isn't going to sit idly by and let the worst case scenario happen. Instead, this is a call to action.
And this? This is what kids need to hear.
If we give our kids visions of optimism, messages that anything is possible and glimmers of hope, then they will (hopefully) not be filled with a defeatist attitude. Instead, they'll see the need for help, address them and change the world for the better (with or without George Clooney).
"Tomorrowland" may have all the trappings of sci-fi blockbuster (robots, jet packs, movie stars, Terminator-like chase scenes, and lots and lots of shiny silver objects), but it goes far beyond that. "Tomorrowland" is an unapologetic cry for change wrapped in a pretty package. It just may not-so-subtly give our children a positive message to cling to, especially for those who stand at the precipice becoming eternally pessimistic.
Tomorrowland's message, filled with optimism such as it is, might push them closer to the edge of hope.