Why Back to the Future matters

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In an effort to write the most cliché posts on all of the internet, I invite you to join me for a short jaunt through Nostalgia City. We’ll walk right down Main Street and end up at City Hall with all of the other folks on the internet today.


OCT 21, 2015.

The tubes have unanimously decided to call this day “Back to the Future Day”, for obvious reasons*. I embrace this. The BTTF trilogy represents some of my fondest childhood cinematic memories. Before I quoted Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, I quoted Marty, Doc, and Biff. I wanted to drive a black Toyota pickup truck, and I wanted to save the Clock Tower.

Apparently I’m not alone. By now, your feeds have probably been flooded with pixelated images of  BTTF memes and lists. You’ve been told today is the day to wear double ties, or remember the futility of fax machines, or dress like future Biff Tannen Jr. for work. It’s funny, if not a little bit of a shallow dive into the movie. I’m definitely enjoying all of the light-hearted fun, but I think there’s more to BTTF than memes and quotes.

So, here’s my angle – the Back to the Future mythology promotes the greatness of the human potential. It lauds science as a discipline to celebrate, and it encourages imagination and exploration. It doesn’t warn of the latent dangers of the forward progress of humans (see the Terminator franchise for this alternate view). This movie offered a generation of children and adolescents that nothing was out of their grasp, and that the future was an adventure, theirs for the writing.

No, it was not the greatest movie or trilogy of all time. Yes, the writing could have used some tweaking, and of course, we all noticed that Claudia Wells and Elizabeth Shue are not doppelgängers. But this is all beside the point; Back to the Future was a positive image of what the future could be, if we were willing to work towards it. It was a modern parable of self worth, persistence, and hopefulness. Perhaps here you accuse me of being a romantic of a dated and cloyingly pop phenomenon. That’s partially fair. But, I’d follow your assertion with this – does Huey Lewis and the News not force you to sing along you when you hear “Back in Time” or “Power of Love”? Does the very reality of a hover board in our time not astound you? Does yelling “1.21 gigawatts!” not cause you to smile?


The future is ours to write, to imagine. May you experience an adventure in your life that brings you to discovery and gives the best of the future to those around you.

Great Scott, indeed.



*If you have seen the movie. If you haven’t, I cannot assist you any further. Vaya con Díos.

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