By Kenneth Shipp
Remember August 29th, 1997? Wait, you don’t remember all the craziness of Judgment Day and how Skynet took over our world? That’s right, Back to the Future isn’t the only time traveling movie with a future date we’ve reached. By now, you may be a bit fatigued hearing about Oct 21, 2015, but let’s remember why we have looked forward to this date. There’s a reason it sticks out more than the more apocalyptic date in Terminator.
While time travel wasn’t invented by Back To The Future, it certainly made it cooler than we had envisioned before. But that was still a world that looked remarkably similar to our own. Remember, in the first movie, Marty’s present day is still the 80’s and when he goes back in time, it’s to the 50’s. The only real piece of tech from the future is the altered Delorean with a Mr. Fusion upgrade at the end of the movie.
Enter Part II. While this future world is still in various ways outside of our reach in practicality and look, Zemeckis was correct in predicting our trajectory, like so many sci-fi writers before him. But in some ways, the BTTF world still feels closer than say a Star Trek universe or the grim outlook we get from Terminator. While Marty has his own issues, the future Earth looks like a cool place to be.
Self-tying shoes, auto sizing and drying clothing, Jaws 19, flying cars are still fantasies to be achieved, but there were a few things BTTF nailed just like Star Trek before it: large flat screens, videoconferencing, video glasses like Oculus or Google Glass. Now, instead of imagining a super advanced world, we had the ability to look into one a bit closer to our own. Each technological innovation had us looking back to films like this one, Star Trek, Total Recall, and others for motivation or reference.
The elephant in the room of course is the hoverboard. I don’t believe there’s a kid alive who didn’t want to own Marty’s board, but we are not that far off from having one, we have created versions that work on special surfaces, the key is matching the level of awesomeness we saw on film. Zemeckis was predicting, but he was also just having fun creating some cool stuff and it’s neat to see life attempting to imitate art; which brings me to the last part.
This is a prediction that isn’t looking so good right now, but as the Cubs inched closer and closer to the playoffs, we all sort of hoped that they would be able to pull off something improbable and cement BTTF into the history books even more. It’s not that often that the Nerd and Sport worlds collide and this would have taken the cake hands down. Now, there is something interesting to note about the Cubs current 0-3 predicament. While winning 4 in a row hasn’t happened in a bit, you don’t have to go too far back to find an example. The 2004 American League Championship Series featured my New York Yankees (I hear the boos already) and the those Boston Red Sox. We won three in a row before the Red Sox ended up winning four in a row, beating us and they went on to win the World Series, ending their 86 year old championship drought and breaking the Bambino curse.
What’s intriguing is that the current President of Operations for the Cubs is Theo Epstein, the same guy who was general manager for the Red Sox in 2004. I don’t know if some of his magic will rub off on this team, but they have rattled off some win streaks this year. Cubs fans, just know this, you gained some fandom this year from most of the baseball world and the nerd world: good luck tonight.
The simply way to put it is that BTTF was a special kind of cool. When a movie can inspire a new generation to take a crack at creating the newest devices, it means that film has succeeded in more ways that just simple enjoyment. Along with other impactful and innovative sci-fi films, Back To the Future helped shaped the way 2015 looks and there’s no going back…well at least until we invent the flux capacitor.