Back To The Future is unequivocally awesome. Virtually everyone likes it, and any person that doesn’t is probably a jerk. But have you actually sat down and thought about the events depicted in the movie? You probably haven’t because you’re not a pop culture fiend with too much time on his hands like me.
If you do, though, you come to some disturbing realizations.
Apparently, Cracked has been monitoring my brainwaves because they posted a video about the insanity of Back To The Future last Monday. There’s a good chance you’ve already seen it, but, if not, here’s the link: http://www.cracked.com/video_18203_why-back-to-future-secretly-horrifying.html
They bring up some points I’ve discussed with other dorks, but I have a few thoughts that they didn’t mention. I’ll discuss both starting with Cracked’s observations.
Marty wakes up in a bizarro world where his parents and siblings are hip, successful yuppies. However, George and Lorraine both had substantial relationships with Marty in the past. His mom even tried to seduce him. Twice. But she and George get married and have kids. One of which is an exact clone of some kid they went to high school with.
Once Marty got to high school and started looking like the Marty they both knew, wouldn’t that set off any alarms? Especially after they gave him the same name? I know, I Know, he said his name was Calvin Klein. But, he told people to call him Marty. Seriously, that wouldn’t weird you out? Wouldn’t that challenge your whole perception of reality?
But on to another weird part of the ending…
In the new bizarro-world, time-rift reality Biff is no longer an insufferable jackass. Instead, he’s a sycophantic underling of the McFly family. That’s a pretty big leap. Remember how he used to abuse George and tried to rape Lorraine? What came in between teenage thug and eunuch manservant?
They say tigers don’t change their stripes. So, it must have taken something substantial to cause his wussery. One lucky punch from a nerd doesn’t change your whole personality. I would know. I’ve been punched by my brother many times.
My theory is: one punch caused a chain reaction. People saw George turn Biff into Glass Joe from Punch Out! and realized he wasn’t so tough. Soon, everyone was picking fights with him, and a series of public ass-kickings emasculated him.
I don’t know exactly what happened, but whatever it was, it was an essential part of the plot.
In the video, Katie hypothesizes that Lorraine is a “danger slut.” I can see the logic in that. She originally fell for George after he fell from a tree, and her dad hit him with a car. Although, the fact that he fell from a tree trying to stealth-ogle some cans might have changed her mind.
Then in the alternate time line she falls for Marty because he was being a causality-meddling ignoramus and got hit with the car. Later in that time line, she only falls for George after he stops a drunken, sexual assault. Katie also speculates that Lorraine is some sort of sexual fetishist who is only interested when violence and danger are present.
I’m not buying it, though.
I’m inclined to agree with DOB. Lorraine is very nurturing, and she can’t resist helping a poor, hurt dork. But It doesn’t really matter which theory is correct. Marty, at some point, must come the realization that his mom was basically tricked into loving his dad. I’m not saying that the feelings that came afterward were insincere; I’m just saying the foundation of the relationship was manufactured.
How would you like to come face to face with that truth?
Chuck Berry Is A Thief
This is the thing about Back To The Future that bothers me the most. I’m sure you know which scene I’m talking about, but in case you’ve been living in a cave, or in Utah (same thing?), I’ll give you a quick recap.
Marty is playing with the band at the dance because the guitarist sliced his hand getting Marty out of a locked trunk. The band doesn’t want to go back on, but they have to so George and Lorraine can dance and kiss. If they don’t, bye, bye Marty. Marty does his job and fills in, but the band wants to play one more song, one that “really cooks.” Marty obliges even though the clock is ticking, literally. Naturally, he plays Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”
But, get this, the band leader is Chuck Berry’s cousin. He calls Chuck so he can hear this wild new sound, because, you know, every high school gym has a phone conveniently located just off stage. Then, the movie would have us believe Chuck reproduced “Johnny B. Goode” note for note based on that call.
Back To The Future insinuates Chuck Berry is a thief and uninspired hack. It supposes that Chuck didn’t have any inkling of that riff or song before some pencil-neck whiteboy played it over the phone. Then he stole it and turned it into a hit. Just so we’re clear, we’re talking about Chuck Berry. The Chuck Berry that had a number one hit. The Chuck Berry that kept Chess Records afloat. The Chuck Berry that’s in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. That Chuck Berry.
That’s not even the most absurd part. The fact that he would be able to hear anything is unbelievable. If you’ve gotten that call from your friend at the concert because Dave Matthews is playing “your jam,” you know that you can’t hear a damn thing. It sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher pumped through a distortion amp. Even if he were a thief and wanted to steal that sweet riff, he wouldn’t have been able to.
I could rant about, at least, three other things in that scene but I won’t.
The first person Marty talks to in the past is a busboy at a diner. He recognizes him as Goldie Wilson, the future mayor. Marty stupidly blurts out that he will be the mayor some day. Then Goldie gets all excited and says he “likes the sound of that.”
It’s like he had no ambition. It appears as if he had never thought of that possibility until he met Marty. Basically, it took a white man for a black man to have any political aspirations. If you think about it, it’s just a little racist no matter how benign that scene was supposed to be.
Now on to observations that weren’t in the video
The Doc and Marty
No one has ever been able to explain their relationship to me. Why do they hang out!? Why?
We’re just supposed to accept that a high schooler is casually hanging out with the town’s resident old kook. When I was 17, I was doing a lot of things, but hanging out with the 70-year-old down the street, who mows the lawn in dress socks and shorts, was not one of them.
There are so many questions. Where did they meet? Doesn’t Marty have any other friends? Do George and Lorraine know about Doc Brown and Marty?
Seriously, Doc Brown should be taping episodes of Matlock and mixing Metamucil into his oatmeal. He shouldn’t be building a novelty sized amp for a high schooler, nor should he be getting said high schooler involved in the swindling of Libyan terrorists. Oh, and he probably shouldn’t be building a damn time machine, especially one that involves plutonium and the desecration of a DeLorean.
A Whole New World
Back to the ending. Marty wakes up and is confused, which is understandable. His house isn’t like his house; His family isn’t like his family; and Biff isn’t like Biff. That’s what the rest of his life would be like. Marty would be constantly perplexed.
Theoretically, he made his family’s life better. However, he didn’t get to experience it. He only got to experience his original, crappy childhood. And, because of the that, people would constantly be referencing events and people that he didn’t experience or meet. Essentially, he would be living another person’s life.
It would suck. You would be constantly walking on egg shells, trying not to mention the past that no one but you remembers. Not even that rad truck and the weekend trip to the lake would make up for that.
We see this guy at the beginning of the movie hassling Marty. Later, we see him hassling George. Apparently, he has something against slackers. Although, I’m not sure that he knows what that word means. Marty and George seem pretty industrious in one way or another. My problem is that, in 30 years, he didn’t change one bit.
This guy is like Dick Clark; he doesn’t age. He was middle-aged when George was in school. Keeping that in mind, by the mid 80’s he should be at least 60, if not 70. He should have been either: A. a geezer or B. retired. It shouldn’t look like someone froze him in Carbonite and thawed him.
And yes, I’m aware that I’m nitpicking. But use a different actor for the younger Strickland or use some make up for the older Strickland. Don’t mail it in and just change his suit.
You hear me Zemeckis?
The Doc’s Letter
The Doc keeps warning Marty not to interfere with the past, but Marty can’t seem to stop taunting the space-time continuum. He’s like Fry in “Roswell That Ends Well.” Deciding to ignore the advice of a man who was smart enough to build a time machine, Marty spits in face of causality and warns Doc Brown about his future death via letter.
Doc Brown rips up the letter, but he ends up taping it together and heeds Marty’s warning. In what way you ask? A bulletproof vest. That’s it. Although it worked in the movie, there’s no way that vest would have stood up to all that semi-automatic gunfire. A smart guy like the Doc would know that, too.
It’s hard to believe that that’s the only precaution the Doc would take. Unless it was his plan to stage a dramatic recreation of his death to play a sick joke on his uncomfortably young friend. But it probably wasn’t. He could have bought an MAC-10 or AK-47. He could have actually built the bomb for the Libyans, but, no, he still decided to screw them. He could have booby-trapped the parking lot. He could have done a lot of things, but he took the most passive option, which was also the option most likely to get him killed.
Okay, so another option would have been less dramatic. But how sweet would it have been to see the Doc pull out an RPG and go all Arnold on those terrorists?
This entry kind of encompasses the rest of the list. For all the things that happened and all the things Marty found out, he takes it surprisingly well. Unusually well. Marty learns that he might have unmade himself and all he says is, “That’s heavy.” He also learns things about his own family that no one should have to know.
First, he sees his friend get murdered by terrorists. Then, he ends time traveling while trying to escape from the terrorists, and it only gets worse from there. In the past Marty: learns his mom is kind of boozy and loose, kisses his mom, finds out his dad is a pervert, sees his dad get owned by Biff, almost gets his ass kicked by Biff, faces his own mortality and barely makes it home.
I don’t know about you, but that would freak me out. I wouldn’t be having a good ole’ time jamming with the band during an encore. I doubt I would have even made it that far. After the first time my mom tried to seduce me, I would be huddled in corner crying. Marty endured the kind of mental trauma that would put most people in therapy for years. Yet, at the end of the movie, Marty opts for more trauma and travels to the future.
It just doesn’t add up.
And that concludes my little examination of Back To The Future. Is there anything you noticed? Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments.