a decade of zanity

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn't take Lorraine out that he'd melt my brain

Title: Back to the Future (1985)

Marty McFly and Doc Brown in Back to the FutureBack to the Future is reverred today as one of the most clever and funniest movies based on time travel. It has given us lasting pop culture icons and lexicons such as the flux capacitor, the De Lorean time machine, and 1.21 gigawatts. The flux capacitor and the De Lorean are associated by many with time travel. And rightly so, it's the most stylish time machine of them all. Also, I hear way too many people coining the term "1.21 gigawatts" on almost activity, even while bowling.

The whole package just fits together nicely. Robert Zemeckis has done a fantastic job directing and co-writing this classic movie. Christopher Lloyd's performance as the eccentric Doc Brown is memorable. Not to mention the lasting imprints that are made by the youthful rivalry between Thomas Wilson's and Crispin Glover's characters as Bif Tannen and George McFly. And Michael J. Fox gives another endearing teenage character in Marty McFly. By this time, he was already known to many as Alex Keaton from the hit TV series, Family Ties. Of course, Leah Thompson (Red Dawn), Marty's future mom and lust stricken teen, is beautiful.

What if there's a Back to the Future Reboot?

One question for fans of the movie. IF Back to the Future is going to be rebooted, what elements would have to be changed to fit a teenager from 2009 going back in time to 1979?

First of all, I think that 30 years is a sweet spot for a generational crossroad. In that period, if a teenager goes back in time, he'll be able to see his parents as teenagers themselves.

"What do kids do in the '50s?", asked Marty McFly as he tried to figure out how to hook up his mom and dad. Marty was in high school at the time and a kid himself, but from the '80s.

While I don't have a teenage kid, I think that because of the successful sitcom, That 70's Show, a teenager traveling back in time to 1979 would not be so clueless. But then again, Marty should not have been so clueless with Happy Days still being shown on air in the 80's.

Now with the elements that ought to be updated, there are 3 areas of the movie that immediately comes to mind -- music, Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan, and black mayor.

From Birth of Rock 'n' Roll to Birth of Hip-Hop

Just from the movie alone, audiences should note that rock n roll was still an up-and-coming genre. From history, "Rock Around the Clock" has not been released until 1955. That's the song credited by many pop culture historians as what brought rock & roll to mainstream America. And if we are to follow the events of Marty McFly's adventures in 1955, the legendary Chuck Berry is still searching for the sound that would place him in rock history.

But in Marty's time, in 1985, the music scene is very different. Rock n roll is already well
established along with pop, dance, and new wave (KROQ music). In fact, rock n roll has sprouted many sub-genres such as punk, soft rock, hard rock, heavy metal, etc. Kids in the 80s have so much more exposure to music than their 50s counterpart.

But what about a teenager from today who is suddenly brought back to 1979? Let's see. In '79, the disco era is just coming to an end. Did it really end or just changed name to dance beat or house music? Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson (RIP) would have been part of the disco
music scene had they been around in the 70s. Still, many disco songs are enjoyed today in club scenes.

Club scenes! Kids did those in '79 as they do today. Aside from disco, most genres of music enjoyed by teenagers, including rock n roll, are fully developed by 1979.

Now, in the movie, Marty McFly performed a guitar solo in front of a 50s teen crowd that left the audience completely dumbfounded. But a seminal phone call is made by Marvin Berry to his cousin Chuck (Berry) and we are to guess as to what happens next, e.g. Chuck Berry hears Marty's version of "Johnny B Goode" and uses it to create rock history.

Could there be a call made in 1979 that is similar to Marvin's call to Chuck that posits to create a musical legend?

One possibility is a cousin of Dj Run (Joseph Simmons), founding member of Run DMC. The hip hop genre that Run DMC brought to mainstream in the 80s is huge among teenagers today but was just bubbling in 1979.

Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan to ?

One funny scene, upon Marty's arrival in 1955 is the "Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan" schtick that he works a couple of times. I could see how faking an alien invader would be a successful ruse in the 1950s.

But could a sci-fi creation that is already well-known in 2009 be used to scare anyone in 1979?

I can't think of any. Perhaps nukes? Soviet commandos? Ronald Reagan as the Anti-Christ? Maybe the aliens from District 9? I'm not sure any of these would work.

As Marty McFly from 2009 transported to 1979, what would you do if you had to scare your dad into dating your mom?

Mayor Goldie Wilson to President Barrack Obama

This one cannot be ignored. Back to the Future makes a pretty strong statement on breaking political racial barrier in the town of Hill Valley, a presumably mostly white, upper middle-class neighborhood. When Marty encountered Goldie Wilson in the '50s, he suggested that Goldie, a black man, can become a future mayor of Hill Valley, which we already knew happened from scenes before Marty travelled back in time.

In 2009, America has a half-black / half-white president in office. This could actually play well for a movie reboot because Barrack Obama attended Occidental College in 1979. In the same way that Marty inspired Goldie, a teenager from today transporting to 1979 can do the same, but with a much higher goal than to be a mayor of a small mid-western town. Since Occidental College is in California, perhaps this teenager could meet a young Barrack Obama at a Licorice Pizza record store.

I think that a rebooted Back to the Future, though not needed, can still be interesting. It's a classic film but the references may seem very outdated to today's and future youth. Yet, there is a large enough group of movie fans who should welcome the question of what if the movie occured today and back to the 70's.

Back to the Future on Blu Ray is or will be available on Amazon.com.


Stacy D-A said...

LOVE your Goldie Wilson & Obama analysis...GOOD points! Thanks for the smile!

mr celeb blogger said...

Great article!