PJ O'Rourke on Disney's Future Schlock

In the new issue of The Atlantic, the inimitable PJ O'Rourke tours Disneyland's revived House Of The Future attraction. According to O'Rourke, it's a boring beige abode lacking the imagination that makes futurism fun in the first place. From O'Rourke's piece, titled "Future Schlock":

According to Disney, the shape of things to come can be found at Pottery Barn, with a quick stop in Restoration Hardware for "classic future" touches and a trip to Target to get throw rugs and cheap Japanese paper lanterns. HoF II was designed by the Taylor Morrison company, a home builder specializing in anodyne subdevelopmental housing in the Southwest. The company's president and CEO told the Associated Press, "The 1950s home didn't look like anything, anywhere. It was space-age and kind of cold. We didn't want the home to intimidate the visitors…"

Denigration of the future has become an intellectual prop over the past 40 years. Looking forward went out of fashion about the time that Buckminster Fuller's audacious geodesic domes, meant to cover entire cities, wound up as hippie-height, wobbling, tent-sized structures on Mendocino County pot communes.

Bruce Handy, writing in Time about Disney's reopening of a deliberately out-of-date Tomorrowland in 1998, began his essay with the sentence, "The future isn't what it used to be." He went on, "It's not a novel observation to point out that our culture has become increasingly backward looking."

Well, given the future envisioned in Disney's House of the Future, who can blame us for looking the other way?

Disney's Tomorrowland is deeply, thoroughly, almost furiously unimaginative. This isn't the fault of the "Disney culture"; it is the fault of our culture. We seem to have entered a deeply unimaginative era.

"Future Schlock" (Thanks, Jess Hemerly!)