Happy Back to the Future day, everyone! Oh wait, what, I missed it? It’s already October 23rd, isnt it? Well damn it all if I don’t have a flying DeLorean so I could go back and tap into some of that cultural capital (but we here at EMM, we generally take a “fuck it” approach, so I’m’ma do it anyways!) The internet lost their shit about it, of course – my Facebook feed was overrun with multicolored digital displays and links to Huey Lewis and the News videos. There were BTTF viewing sessions at movie theaters across the country. Jimmy Kimmel made a skit about it featuring the Chris Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. Hell, even USATODAY got in on that action, releasing a reprint of the mock front page from the movie (and I bought a copy, because of course I did. Who says print media is dead?!?) And leave it to the gubmint agencies to do the only thing they know how to do – pass bans! But now that October 21st has come and gone and we can chuck yet another movie’s predictions about the future into the wastebasket, what the hell can we take away from it all?
Something, something no flying cars?
Well, I’m just gonna come right out and say it, I think we’re stalling out culturally. We live in an age where nostalgia seems to be the defining guiding force for our pop culture trends. The clothing fashions of the Mad Men and grunge era seem to dominate; the highest-grossing movies are tapping the ever-thinning premise wellspring of the Marvel universe (or are gleefully playing into people’s ability to let themselves be fooled by the hype of a new Star Wars movie, yet again.) It seems like that, yes, a whoo-hoo-hoo, it’s all been done before.
(See, even I can’t escape my own nostalgia for 90s music, goddamnit!)
So what are we to make of this? I mean sure, Back To The Future at least acknowledged the possibility of our unbridled penchant for nostalgia by featuring a Cafe 80’s as part of the storyline. And as an article by Bob Gale in the very same throwback USA TODAY so helpfully pointed out, we do indeed have restaurants with 80’s themed arcade games. And they did make a self-referential jab Hollywood’s omnipresent lazy milking of any popular franchise. But those seemed more like plot contrivances set in the context of the movie set amidst a world where fashion and cultural trends kept moving right along, regardless of how ridiculous they might look.
Oh well. Maybe I’m just bitching for no reason. Every generational cohort goes through a nostalgic wave, and it’s just time for us late Gen-Xers and early Millennials. I should be embracing the fact that the shit I grew up with is still so culturally relevant – this wasn’t always the case. But I just worry it’s starting to peak and play itself out. It seems all too easy to slap an 8-bit Mario onto a Tardis and call it clever. But whatever the faults of where our society stands culturally, at least we live in a time where the Biff Tannens are finally being called out for the assholes they always were while what the George McFlys would like reigns supreme – a book about an astronaut surviving on Mars does exceedingly well and its corresponding movie grosses millions. And it’s not as if there isn’t excellent contemporary shit out there, one just needs to know how and where to find it.
Why, on Evil Media Mogul and only on Evil Media Mogul! Of course!
So rejoice, dear reader as I call upon you to not look back but look forward! For despite the problems we face (and the fact that some things will seemingly never change), the future is indeed bright and hopeful – for example, global poverty is falling (did you know that?!?) Let’s continue to work towards making the world a better place, flux capacitor or no! And remember, what Back To The Future got wrong about the future (present?) is not as important as what they got right.