Back to the Future II Got More Right Than You Think


Screen Shot of NBC Universal

Sorry, you’re going to have to do your chase scene on a regular skateboard in 2015

Luis Badillo, Writer

No hoverboards. No self-tying laces, flying cars, dehydrated pizzas or even holographic movie displays propagate our lives like it did for those living the futuristic Hill Valley featured in “Back to the Future: Part II.”

In fact without being able predict the prominence of the internet or the rise of smartphones; it’s easy to see why the future Doc Brown visited is way off from our real 2015. In the movie, fax machines and physical newspapers were still important communications tools instead of curiosities you might see on the “Kids React” YouTube channel.

Despite all the whiffed tech predictions, there are a couple things that Back to The Future actually got right. Not so much on the technical side, but on the cultural one.

One thing for certain that permeates our culture today is 80s nostalgia. In the 2015 Marty McFly visited, one of the central locations was the Cafe 80s; an automated diner waited by digital imitations of famous 80s personalities including Michael Jackson and Ronald Regan. Kids can play old arcade machines while “Beat it” plays in the background. Though the restaurant is fake, the reverence for the decade is real and very much alive today. Gamers idolize video games from the era, and pop culture enthusiasts still consume the TV and movies created in it. In fact it’s not totally uncommon for people to show up to an 80s party, where everyone show’s up wearing fashion from the era.

Though a bit of a stretch, one could argue that the movie also predicted Hollywood’s obsession with sequels. While wandering Hill Valley, Marty McFly gets assailed by a holographic shark flying out of a movie marquee, but the real punchline is the title of the movie it is advertising. “Jaws 19” it says` “This time, it’s really really personal.”

Sadly, sequels still dominate box offices. Over the last couple of years we’ve gotten our fourth Terminator with a fifth on the way, a sixth Lord of the Rings movie and a seventh X-`men movie. And to the annoyance of many movie goers, the trend has also mutated into a habit of releasing remakes. Robocop, Godzilla and Total Recall (though not necessarily bad movies), reflect an industry that would rather recycle an old idea rather than try out something new.

The last thing worth pointing out was the way people relate and use technology in Back to the Future II. This is exemplified by none other than the wimpy Marty McFly Jr. There’s just something uncanny about how he comes home to his big screen TV and turns on six channels all at once. The junior McFly’s experience is close to that of any number of people who consume media with the TV on, a laptop and/or tablet to the side and with a smartphone in hand. And the constant need to stay connected is apparent as the McFlys sit down for a family dinner, where both kids are attached to their phones. Granted those phones look like oversized glittery Ray-bans, but they might as well be iPhones and Androids the way the kids rarely divert their attention from them.

It’s unfortunate for us fans of the movie. These little looks into the future aren’t nearly as glamorous that enabled the hoverboard chase scene. But it’s nice to know that Marty McFly wasn’t looking at a 2015 that was 100 percent inaccurate. Just know that we’ll probably have to wait another 30 years to live out our flying DeLorean fantasies.