By Jonathan Chiu
Finding solutions to Earth’s biggest problems is a major theme of Tomorrowland, a Disneyland attraction and name of an alternate dimension movie.
Casey Newton, the main character in Tomorrowland, is recruited to save the world by Athena, a child android. When murderous robots try to kill them, they turn to Frank Walker (George Clooney), a former citizen of Tomorrowland, to help them complete their journey.
Tomorrowland is a fun and socially conscious movie that pits worldwide epidemics against dreamers seeking to change the world.
San Quentin Reviews meets in the lot between the Education Department and San Quentin News to discuss the movie’s message of hope.
“I feel cynical today,” said Emile DeWeaver. “Tomorrowland portrays hope as salvation, but it nags at me that hope can sometimes be an excuse to pine for the future without taking steps to make concrete changes right now.”
“I hear you,” said Rahsaan Thomas. “But you have to hope. It goes back to that saying, ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.’ You create your own self-fulfilling prophecy. And if you have no hope, you’re hopeless; then there are no solutions.”
Some of the problems the movie highlights are global warming, terrorism, and wealth disparity. The story’s villain is Governor Nix (Hugh Laurie). He feels such a sense of hopelessness for the world that his solution is to destroy Earth with all of its inhabitants.
“Ironically, the bad guy wasn’t wrong about his assessment of the world,” I said. “We do face epidemics of starvation in Third World countries while the United States faces a rise in Type II diabetes due to obesity. I like the parallels between Tomorrowland and real life. People try to fix the problems, but they’re hindered by politics and people with money and power wanting to keep them.”
Juan Meza agreed with me that bureaucracy and politics get in the way of many solutions. “And we see this in prison. If I designed a positive, healing program that works, I may never be able to implement it because of the bureaucracy. It makes me think about the struggle to educate the public about restorative justice.
How can we introduce restorative ideas into a system that’s institutionally retributive? That’s a big problem, and I don’t know if we have a solution.”
“The solution is easy.” Thomas throws his hands in the air, exaggerating his hyperbole. “We have dreamers like Emile ‘Dreamweaver,’ who thought up the Prison Renaissance to build a culture of community, mentorship, collaboration and rehabilitation. And it’s focused on recruiting the biggest dreamers: artists and educators.”
The members of SQ Review laugh, and we close out the day telling jokes.
“Wait,” DeWeaver says to Thomas, whose comment emulates the android in the movie who recruits dreamers. “I appreciate the plug, but are you saying I’m a little girl android?”
“Man,” Thomas says and bounces to the edge of his seat. In the movie there’s a strange dynamic between the android girl and George Clooney’s character, who fell in love with the android when he was a boy. “What’s up with George Clooney holding a torch for a 12- year-old girl? It was weird.”
We erupt with agreement.
DeWeaver said, between fits of laughter, “I felt like sometimes they were about to kiss, because the music and the moment was there! What is wrong with Disney?”
“Nothing is wrong with Disney,” Meza says, straight face. “What’s so weird about a dude obsessed with internet, lives alone, keeps older women out of his house but takes in runaways? Totally normal.”
I get the last word. “So the message of the movie is: ‘Wake the dreamers inside of you.’ We all need to come together to save ourselves, this planet, and to create a world where George Clooney can fall in love with adult robots.”