In Back to the Future, Part II, Marty McFly traveled from 1985 to yesterday, 21 October 2015, to look in on his future family and possibly save his own son from a life of crime. The subject has been done to death in the media this week, but I can’t resist plucking at a couple of the less-noted details of this fictive future. I’m immensely relieved, for example, that double neckties never caught on.
The movie also imagined that we would essentially be taken over by the Japanese. When it came out in 1989, Japan was making ‘all the best stuff,’ but they’ve since wilted, perhaps victims of their own success.
We’re also not too far from 2019, the time frame of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man. The notion of America as a poverty-stricken police state doubtless seemed laughable in 1987, but as 2019 approaches, the laughable seems to be becoming all too real.
The other day, I was watching The Hunt for Red October, the 1989 movie about a Soviet submarine captain who wanted to defect to the United States. It was a cool movie back then, and still holds its own 26 years later. But I’m compelled to believe that if Red October happened today, the American leadership would probably bend over backwards to return the sub to the Russians, and probably the captain as well. Either that, or help the Russians to sink it.
And then there’s Tony Manero, the John Travolta character from Saturday Night Fever. Back in the 1970s, it wasn’t outlandish to get an ordinary sort of job out of high school, and make a modest living at it. But the little hardware stores that used to be a fixture in Brooklyn–and pretty much everywhere else–are going the way of the dodo. And there was his boss, who paid him on Monday so he’d have money all week. Sensible, but hopelessly quaint. It’s hard to imagine Tony Manero working for Lowe’s.