The 1950’s were a totally unprecedented period in the history of the world.
When I was a child, back in those days, less than a decade after the most destructive world war in human history, I got habitually hooked, like millions of other baby boomers, on TV. It was the latest and greatest — the most amazing — at that time — invention of all time: Television! (haha!)
We were the first generation to grow up with an electronic fantasy-box glowing in the living room. In the afternoons, after school, we were affixed to it, most every day and night of every week.
This development would certainly change the world as we know it, but nobody knew how it would change the world.
We watched Davy Crockett, Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody; we watched Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans.
Along came Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Minnie, with their cartoon buddies. . . Pluto, Donald Duck, Cinderella, and a host of Disney-fied critters and characters conjured up from ancient European fairytales, along with a host of American Uncle Remus critters — Br’er Rabbit, B’rer Fox. A bunch of ancient fairytales and folk tales were modified — electronified, 20th-century-style — for us clueless kids to watch on our new-fangled miracle TV-tubes, television.
Prior to that development, nothing in the world had ever existed like it. And we had no idea whatsoever how TV would change the world.
We were growing up, baby boomers, in the great American land of unprecedented progress and prosperity.
We just knew we had a great Future ahead of us.
Then along came Walt Disney. He and his Dream crew began — with their cartoonizing worldview — putting the Disneyland dream together.
So it wasn’t just on those magic TV screens. The Disney crews built a whole theme park in California, a fantasy land that would change American vacationing forever. . . and twenty years later they built another — even bigger and fancier DisneyWorld — on a huge tract of land in Florida.
Within that dream world, they built a Tomorrowland, a futuristic, progress-fantasizing entertainment theme park with an eye toward the Future.
But yesterday, my idealized theme-park future world was unexpectedly darkened while touring the latest disney cinema set of future past.
What does it say about our great American expectations for the future when we find, instead of Buzz Lightyear, the Jetsons, or Tomorrowland, a bunch of clueless, vacationing mousekateers wandering in a darkened dystopia of future-past decay and decline?
. . . even if it is, cinematically, from a galaxy long, long ago and far, far away.