‘The Future’ Is Now Officially Yesterday’s News — Literally [Video]

We can now officially refer to “The Future” in the past tense. Specifically, it happened on October 21, 2015.

Yes, yes — I can remember it as if it happened yesterday — that fateful day when Marty McFly arrived in our temporal present, having been persuaded by the unfailingly reliable Doc that he should pose as his own son (Marty McFly Jr.) so that he can turn down an invitation from GriffBiff Tannen’s grandson–to participate in a robbery. Needless to say this fore-ordained robbery is destined to go awry, thus averting the imprisonment of his nascent offspring (as yet unborn relative to his native temporal position in 1985) and pre-emptively erasing the disgrace of having a felon in the family.


Doc had shown up in 1985 — fresh from some other offramp chronography — hard upon the completion of Doc & Marty’s joint efforts to repair their flux-capacitator-enhanced DeLorean, which had commenced shortly after they’d finished patching up the damage to history done by his previous time travel adventures. Unfortunately, Doc and McFly’s presence in Hill Valley, California, yesterday gave Biff a chance to steal Doc’s automotive time machine and shoot back to 1955, where he (Biff Tannen) alters history by making his younger self wealthy through market speculation on commodities whose prices he knew ahead of time, due to his possession of an antique almanac published in 1957 — two years after he’d passed it to his younger self in 1955.

Biff Tannens of Days Gone By

A variety of hilarious and emotionally cathartic historical revisionist shenanigans and hijinx ensued thereafter, ultimately resulting in omni-temporally positive outcomes for McFly and Jennifer Parker, who has been replaced by someone who acts like Jennifer Parker in all ways but doesn’t really resemble the girl he left behind the night he’d fled from Doc’s gangland parking lot execution at the hands of Libyan terrorists after their stolen plutonium.

What happened to Jennifer Parker?

Still composited by author. Fair use.

While the dimension-X body-swap that subs-in Elisabeth Shue (II) for Claudia Wells (s/t) is never adequately resolved intradiegetically, it DOES provide us with an excellent excuse to gratuitously insert the opening credits sequence to Adventures With Babysitting in which Elisabeth Shue performs a ritual dance alone in her bedroom as she mentally prepares to go on the big anniversary date after which she will offer herself as a virgin sacrifice.


Today is the day after Marty McFly showed up in the future. Zemeckis’ vision of an America freed of its gravitational and thermodynamic hang-ups can now safely be classified as a “paleo-future.”

"Smoking Robots of the Future," 1931. Public Domain. "The Mechanical Man Has Been 'Humanized' in Some Respects.and Taught Some Manners of Polite Society. The Westinghouse Robot Shown in this Photograph Smokes Cigarettes and Obligingly 'Gives a Light' TO His Companion. Another Robot in Pennsylvania State College With a Glass Throat and Water Lungs Smokes Cigars All Day Long and Reports Scientific Facts About Smoking Human Smokers Could Not Find out.

Back To The Future II got at least one thing right: The future (RE: yesterday) looks like the 1980s.

Millenial hipsters really DO dress like they live in the Reagan Era!

And who can forget the hoverboard chase?

In order to recollect the passionate intensity with which tween-age males in the late ’80s identified with their skateboards, one only has to spend an hour playing the once incredibly intense and now unbelievably tedious and clunky classic NES Skate Or Die!

Skate or Die Back to the Future

Tony Hawk,who’s added Skate or Die‘s brand equity to his asset portfolio in the fullness of time, pulled a hoverboard hoax last year.

It’s a prank that we can easily forgive when we contemplate the hopes and dreams of the little boy (what is he, like 9?) who shows up at 1:30 in this video. Hopes and dreams that will be crushed by the laws of physics and the weak appetite of major institutional investors contemplating space program-scale research and to develop costs required just to cover initial startup costs for a business concept whose ultimate goal — let’s face it, folks — is to produce sports equipment and apparel aimed at people who live a sports-oriented and casual lifestyle. All the founders are really offering here is a brand that, up to this point, accounts for 31 percent of its revenue by its sales of T-shirts and recreational apparel.* It’s a non-starter. Not going to happen, nine-year-old Tony Hawk.


I felt fairly certain that the Neutrinos/Dimension X plot-thread from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a riff off of Back To The Future II: obnoxious teenagers with crazy hair drive hover cars that look like intensively modified 1957 BMW Cabriolets, fly around on hoverboards, etc.

Was Robert Zemeckis inspired by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and the coked-to-the-gills super-high-concept marketing team at Playmate Toys?

After all, TMNT was a pop culture remix that transcended its source material from the beginning. It began as a satirical mash-up of all the hipper-than-thou Frank Miller’s Ronin, Marvel Comics’ New Mutants, and Dave Sims’ Cereberus. One would assume they’d stick with their massively successful formula:

  • Observe trendiest content that the 7-12/yr.-old demo.
  • Integrate into plot-structure regardless of the obvious absurdity of the increasingly layered juxtaposition of pop-culture references.
  • Feed the gluttonous toy-market with newly-designed action-figures corresponding to new characters/vehicles etc.
  • Repeat.

Plus, I mean, it makes sense — right? All the main thematic elements are there:

  • Cross-temporal teenage romance,
  • The slavering consumerist of anti-gravitational recreation & solo-commuter transport
  • The hybridization of 1950’s nostalgia and the horny Silicone Valley futurism.

Turns out — NOPE. When I fact-checked my mental chronology, it turns out that the Neutrinos (1987) antedate Back to the Future II (1989).


So what does that leave us with?

Had Alex P. Keaton, the inexplicably hardcore Reaganite neo-conservative teenage son of hippy parents that Michael J. Fox played on Growing Pains, aged at a natural rate he’d be in his early fifties now. The final season ends with him getting his first job on Wall St. He would probably be one of the Goldman-Sachs C-Suite people who tanked the economy with toxic mortgage paper, collaterallized debt obligations, and derivatives trading (nearly a decade ago now, already).

If Scott Howard (Teen Wolf) were alive today he’d probably be in much the same situation as Michael Jordan. Divorced in late-middle age, re-married to some 20-year-old model that doesn’t speak English, his accomplished athletic career now a distant memory, a few entrepreneurial embarrassments safely buried now, revenue still rolling in steadily from merchandising deals, considering austere appointments high up in the league, where he would float around in the anechoically sealed-off upper chambers of the world’s greatest metropolises along with the other alien billionaires who own professional sports teams.

If Marty McFly had aged at the same speed as the rest of us he would be about 45 right now. My guess is that he would have a brief, uneven, sometimes seemingly promising but ultimately mediocre music career to look back on that had mostly coalesced in his late 20s (RE: the late ’90s). Probably divorced but maybe happily remarried with one or two kids between him and all his spouses past and present. I’m guessing that he works doing some kind of…e-commerce marketing strategy-type thing. Maybe he drinks a bit more than most of his peers, and occasionally struggles with mild depression.

And then of course there is the real Michael J. Fox, who’s done pretty well, all things considered, but of course has struggled with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease for well over a decade now.

Yup. That’s about the size of it.

I guess that’s just part of growing up. When you’re a kid you believe that hoverboards are right around the corner! Any day now!

That’s what it seems like.

Then, as you advance towards middle age you believe that — despite the bleak predictions of our best statistical models — maybe global-warming won’t completely wipe out the human species by the time you’ve reached the age at which your grandparents died! At least that’s what you tell yourself.

You suspect that behind it all, some hidden force propels forward into the unknowable. It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes, but it might just save your life. That’s the power of love.*

*A 1985 single written and performed by Huey Lewis and the News commissioned by some Hollywood functionary and featured in that year’s big summer blockbuster Back to the Future.

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