October 21, 2015

“Back to the Future”: You Mean To Tell Me This Is The Year 2015?!

Posted in Pop Culture at 11:57 pm by chavalah

GREAT SCOTT! This is heavy. :P

GREAT SCOTT! This is heavy. 😛

Yup, I’m one of those nerds you’ve seen across your social media dashboards, gleefully posting and keeping up with the news we’ve all been waiting for these 30 years (well, technically more like 26)—when real life caught up with the fantastical storyline from “Back to the Future: Part 2.” 😀

I’ve felt a special affinity concerning this franchise since I first saw the movies, probably a few years after their release. The generational gap between me and my parents is about the same as it is for Marty and his—circa 30 years. My father was born in 1955 and my sister was born in 1985. Of course, this means that if I took a time machine to check on my parentals when they were 17 I’d be heading to the early ‘70s, which lets just admit right now is a cooler decade. 😛

Back in the day, I used to do some idle research into production of the franchise, and some of the details stuck with me. I know old Biff was stumbling around when he returned to 2015 because when he altered the past, Lorraine then shot him dead sometime in the ’90s. 😛 Ergo in unaltered 2015 he has to disappear; there’s some more distinctive (cut) footage of that on the DVD. I also loved the little tweaks between timelines; like when Marty ran over a tree in 1955, a mall name changed from “Twin Pines” to “Lone Pine,” and when they saved Clara and Marty assumedly fell to his death in 1885, the ravine name changed from “Clayton” to “Eastwood.” 😛

But more all-encompassing is the issue of downtown (fictitious) Hill Valley itself. When the first film opens in 1985, downtown is pretty run down, similar to the modern-day realities. They actually shot the ’50s scenes first, for that shiny, thriving mom-and-pop feel, before dirtying up the sets. For the 21st century they imagined a revival of downtown with a bustling new mall, movie theatre and etc; I see that happening a lot now, too, with young professionals moving back into cities, and the gentrification of downtown areas. My own current-day town is thriving, where a few decades back it was pretty dilapidated.

Maybe because the 2015 storyline is probably my favorite out of the three films, I was stunned when director/writer Robert Zemicks said on the DVD that it was his least favorite. He didn’t like the idea of imaging a future that obviously wouldn’t come to pass. Now that we’re officially in and through October 21, we can all say with certainty that there are no flying cars, and lawyers are still around. 😛 But I guess, for me, I never minded the thought of anachronisms. I save my petty annoyances for in-universe discrepancies—like when they leave 1985 in the morning but return from the future at night, or why the older Doc in 1885 doesn’t remember the details of his younger self sending Marty over in 1955. The one that makes me seethe the most is at the very end of the third movie—when Marty’s termination notice disappears because “your future hasn’t been written yet,” BUT THE FAX PAPER STILL EXISTS. *tears at hair* AURGH. 😛

Although the specific 2015 gadgets, for the most part, remain fictional, I respect the general observations that this film made about the advance of western society. I remember, in the ’90s, thinking it was absolutely crazy that people would publicize such random details about themselves through the video conferencing interface; now, there’s Facebook. 😛 There may not be such a thing as cell phones in the movie’s 2015, but the teens are still attached to their electronic communications devices at the dinner table. Fax machines are next to obsolete in the real world, but in the movie they could serve as a stand-in for the ubiquity of emails and texts. As for multi-installment blockbuster films, just substitute Marvel or DC for “Jaws.” (Also, not from the 2015 storyline but from alternate 1985, I can no longer look at Thomas Wilson’s powerful business mogul, Biff, and NOT see Donald Trump. :P)

I like the premise of the first movie; introducing the idea that our collective parents used to be young, that believe it or not they had lives before us. Marty was mostly embarrassed by his parents in 1985, but in 1955 he could almost look at them as peers and counsel their bad-road behaviors (Lorraine’s drinking, George’s low self esteem.) But I like the narrative flux of the sequels more, when Marty has to face his own flaws. In 2015, Jennifer is almost a stand-in for the audience, surveying what comes from Marty’s daredevil behavior when he’s no longer a teen but a middle aged man. I love the disbelieving, disgusted look she gives him as he plays dejectedly at his abandoned guitar. Still, I view this franchise as uplifting; I mean after all, Marty ultimately gets the chance to make the right choices once he returns to his normal life in 1985.

I’m not usually an optimistic person, I’ll admit. My general attitude is that you have to work to carve out a piece of grace for yourself, amidst a continuously violent and cruel world. (Speaking of which—small tangent—MOCKINGJAY PART 2 WILL BE IN THEATRES IN LESS THAN A MONTH. REPEAT: MOCKINGJAY 2 WILL BE IN THEATRES IN LESS THAN A MONTH. :D) But these films bring out my hopeful side, my playful one. As Caroline Framke wrote on Vox this morning, “Back to the Future is just about the most perfect science fiction blockbuster movie ever. It’s quick, both in pace and in wit, and takes its characters seriously even as it lets them laugh.” It’s majestic in scope, too. Just like the ticking clock in the crocodile reminds “Peter Pan”‘s Captain Hook of his mortal coil, the long lifetime of the clock tower in BTTF allows Marty and Doc to experience various realities.

Man, no matter what you think the movie got or didn’t get right, real October 21, 2015 will go down in history as a sort of meeting of the dimensions. Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown addressed us all from a Delorean. Michael J. Fox got to try on power lacing shoes. Universal released a trailer for “Jaws 19”and Pepsi rolled out some bottles that were branded to match the movie version. I’m sure there’s plenty more I’m missing, too!

But long before the real-life hoopla about 2015 began, YouTube gave us the best “Brokeback Mountain” parody (BTTF-inspired, of course) of all time. 😀 So I’ll end this rambly blog post on that note. Remember: the future is what you make of it. So make it a good one.


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