Hello Tomorrow!: It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
The one certainty in this life is the promise of a better tomorrow. Things will get better in the morning. There’s hope for the future, through progress and innovation. And sometimes, that’s enough to keep going.
At least, that’s the idea central to Hello Tomorrow!, a recent sci-fi comedy streaming now on Apple TV+. In this retro-futuristic world much like our own, traveling salesmen offer the ultimate escape from the dreariness of everyday life: your very own timeshare on the moon.
“Your brighter tomorrow doesn’t start when you land on the moon,” Jack Billings (Billy Crudup) tells whoever might be listening through a black-and-white TV screen. “It starts today.”
The question at hand: will the lucky winners of a home on the moon ever actually get there? Will it solve all the problems they face on Earth? Do the salesmen even believe this promise, or are they pitching a fantasy, rather than a reality?
Consider the setting; a vision of 1950s life and the culture that derives from it. The space race is at its height. We can reach the stars! People come together to watch the world advance as humanity pushes the boundary of exploration. And for the average American family that has endured the Great Depression, sent their sons off to war, and lived in fear of Cold War escalations, the promise of a better tomorrow is a powerful thing.
Disneyland opened in 1952, as the Cold War reached its peak and before man reached the moon. There’s more to be done! More rides to build and characters to create. More visitors to bring through the gates and down Mainstreet USA.
As Walt Disney himself explained, our curiosity keeps us moving forward. A decade later, Disney and his Imagineers developed the Carousel of Progress for the 1964 New York World Fair before moving to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland (and now at DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom).
“You know, Walt Disney loved the idea of progress,” a pre-recorded voice tells the audience before the attraction begins. And it’s true. It can be seen throughout the parks and in the movies; ever-expanding rides and innovative ways of telling stories as the technology itself advances.
Like Hello Tomorrow!, the attraction exhibits an air of nostalgia looking back at the turn of the century. Thomas Edison has just introduced electricity into American homes. The Wright Brothers are testing out some new “flying machine”. The music-listening experience is changing and “horseless trolleys” are flooding cobblestone streets. The stage turns; it’s the Roaring 20s. Baseball scores and news are emitted from radios. Films are being advertised as the Golden Age of Hollywood begins. Now it’s the 1940s and the American family enjoys what are now common kitchen appliances: the refrigerator keeps food colder for longer and a dishwasher means less work for the everyday housewife to have some much-needed time for herself.
If you thought that was revolutionary, wait until you see what comes next. While it’s been updated over time to fit with the times, Disney’s depiction of 21st-century life is one of luxury and indulgence. The same family has computers to surf the internet and virtual reality and high-def TV. Forget about the refrigerator; those same kitchen tools now respond to voice commands! Nostalgia is replaced with futurism, and we get a glimpse of prosperous times to come. Retro-futurism at its finest.
Whether we’ll be living on the Moon, or Mars at this rate, we’ve often looked to the stars as a sign of hope. That something bigger exists beyond our mortal lives. While we might not be around forever, our efforts now can be seen far into the future. And just as Jack sells the promise of a better tomorrow, Disney sold the dream of a better future. The advancement of technology, and constant innovation are not enough. The power to determine if tomorrow might be better resting in the belief that it will. It’s something philosophers have debated over for millennia; when will we ever learn its true human nature to desire and backfire on those desires? Still, tomorrow will always be there. We just may not be. And that’s okay.
Richard Sherman, writer of the Carousel of Progress’ title tune, “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” explains that the song is an ode to Disney himself. “In a way, it was Walt's theme song, because he was very positive about the future,” Sherman said. “He really felt that there was a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.”
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow Shining at the end of every day There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow And tomorrow's just a dream away
Man has a dream and that's the start He follows his dream with mind and heart And when it becomes a reality It's a dream come true for you and me
So there's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow Shining at the end of every day There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow Just a dream away