By Abby Ramirez
Once quarantine began on March 14 and the entire country shut itself down to prevent further devastation from the coronavirus, many of us have now spent countless hours on the couch with streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
On my own binging journey, I sought out Disney Plus and began with “Monsters, Inc.,” a seemingly simple film about monsters and a little girl who gets lost in their world. However, as I watched, I realized it was so much more. Somehow, Disney was able to predict a reality in which we would soon face.
When going to work, Mike Wazowski wants to drive his brand new car, but was shot down by his partner, Sully, who explained that they needed to save energy in the midst of the current “scare shortage.” When the film was released in 2001, the concept of a world filled with electric cars could never be fathomed, as the cost to make the vehicles made them impossible to sell. However, in the last few years, this better, more eco-friendly world has slowly become a reality. According to the Edison Electric Institute, the U.S. alone had about 1.18 million registered electric vehicles on the road in 2019.
In the spirit of thinking about the future, I decided to watch “Meet the Robinsons” next, and unsurprisingly, I found another accurate prediction. Although the futuristic implications in this movie are quite obvious, the easter egg that the screenwriters left behind is incredibly disturbing. In the film, the antagonist, Bowler Hat Guy, befriends one of Mr. Robinson’s inventions, the DOR-15: a bowler hat with artificial intelligence (AI).
With rapid advancements in technology, the idea of AI infiltrating our homes, so futuristic during the movie’s release in 2007, has become a reality. Just three years after the movie’s debut, Apple invented Siri, a virtual assistant installed in all Apple products as a part of the software. Since then many other virtual assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, have crept into our homes and onto our bodies through smart watches.
On a more positive note, Disney was also able to predict a brighter, more optimistic future for women through the protagonist Merida in “Brave.” Stepping away from the typical princess stereotype, this Scottish princess defended herself and proved to her entire community that she was an independent woman who did not need a man to be able to survive. Although this movie was released in the midst of the third wave feminist movement, it became an even greater reality in 2017 when thousands of women around the world marched through cities together to celebrate their strength and independence.
Unfortunately, Disney’s apparent clairvoyant abilities have also predicted an increasingly frightening future. Slowly, the world is transforming into the Earth portrayed in the studio’s 2008 film, “Wall-E.” Our atmosphere and land is becoming so polluted with trash and toxic pollutants that conversations regarding the fate of human life on Earth have become increasingly serious. At the same time, the film predicted a world where obesity is common and humans are so obsessed with and reliant on technology that they cannot acknowledge the reality that lies in front of them.
With this type of dystopian world in mind, Disney’s predictions for the future become more and more concerning. Will conditions on Earth become so uninhabitable that we have to move to space? Will technology turn against us and try to take over our lives like? Will we all become so obsessed with technology that we lose our connection to life itself? If we do not seriously consider the value of these seemingly fictional films, these dystopian worlds may become our reality.
Although the apparently impending doom of the human race is concerning, some of Disney’s movies, such as “Zootopia” and “Onward,” give us hope for a more inclusive, utopian society. In each movie, animals and creatures of different genders, races, and sexualties evolve and learn to peacefully coexist. In light of the 2018 election where a record breaking 117 women were elected or appointed into a Congress that is also currently the most racially and ethnically diverse it has ever been, it seems as if we might be on the right path.
Despite that progress, there is still much work to be done. Disney’s predictions have continuously become reality in recent years, which means that in the future, Earth and the human race may be in peril. Although they are fictional films, we should begin to take their messages seriously, and work towards a cleaner, more inclusive and eco-friendly future.