Tomorrowland Never Dies

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Handy, Bruce. “Tomorrowland Never Dies.” Vanity Fair, March 2000: [114]-[126], “Society” section.

”By the future,” HB means “an imagined destination, a vision, as opposed to the eventuality that rolls around whether we want it to or not” (116). “Until the 60s, America’s visions of the future were optimistic, unironic, and really pretty cool. Well, that future has more or less arrived, and what we’re left with is a nostalgia for those space-age mid-century dreams—the semi-kitsch echoes of Tomorrowland, The Jetsons, and the 1939 New York World’s Fair” (summary under title on first page of essay). Usefully contrast Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland and its DisneyCorp successor, which incorporates elements of Buck Rogers, Tim Burton’s BATMAN, STAR WARSJules Verne’s and Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (114). Other useful contrasts: The futuristic General Motors Futurama vision of America in 1960 vs. Matt Groening’s retro-futuristic Futurama show on Fox TV (q.v., under Drama); METROPOLIS vs. STAR WARS as a kind of transitional work, and more so BLADE RUNNER, “the Birth of a Nation of retro-futurism.” See pp. 122-23 of this essay for GATTACA, FIFTH ELEMEN], THE BICENTENNIAL MAN (1999 film), BRAZIL, the MAD MAX series,[1] THE MATRIX, 12 MONKEYS, SLEEPER, THINGS TO COME, TRON (1982) the new VW Beetle, the iMac computer design as based on The JETSONS, and the Encounter Restaurant, “the quintessential Southern California restaurant of the 1990s,” which turned “an authentically forward-looking work into a phony version of what it already was (122-23; films listed under Drama). See for retro-futurism’s appeal in the Jetsonian “comforting portrayal of the future that’s nostalgic” and “The difference between genuine futurism and retro-futurism” as “the difference between what the future once man to people and what it doesn’t mean now”—which, we add, seems very important for Modernism vs. postmodernism as styles and world-views. CAUTION: Except insofar as “The child is father to the man,” the Bruce Willis character in 12 MONKEYS doesn’t turn “out to be his own father”—or, not unless we missed something important in the film (122).

RDE, Title, 28Aug19