Monthly Archives: October 2015

What Back to the Future Part II Got Right

Today is “Back to the Future Day,” as it’s now called. No, we don’t have flying cars or hoverboards, but there are a couple things I think ended up being kinda-sorta accurate. Let’s cut the writers and others who had creative input some slack, because having some things turn out to be kinda-sorta accurate ain’t bad for a movie meant to entertain.

On a personal note, the futuristic scenes in Back to the Future Part II so inspired me as a child, I must deviate from writing about proprietism to pay homage to the film. Futuristic sci-fi has been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since, and instilled in me a desire to contribute my ideas to the world in case I can help create an awesome future.

1. The Jaws 19 Hologram – While we don’t have hologram theatres, 3-D movies are now pretty much the norm for action-packed blockbusters. Holograms themselves are pretty well developed now to the point that the Jaws hologram in the movie would be possible, but perhaps in dimmer light.

2. Pepsi Perfect – Pepsi is making this product right now. Current Pepsis don’t look exactly like the one in the movie, but the logo and bottle are certainly more sleek now.

3. Marty’s jacket – Marty’s jacket is not unlike jackets currently in style with the sporty wicking look and pockets on both breasts. If it wasn’t iconized, you wouldn’t think twice seeing a young person wearing such a jacket.

4. Marty’s Nikes – The sneakboot has made it’s debut in 2015, though high-top sneakers and straight-leg jeans are definitely in and have been for a few years. Maybe we would wear our pockets inside out if we didn’t have smartphones.

5. The ridiculousness of their TV – Marty’s son’s attention was divided over many different channels, which is not unlike what kids do today as they zip through different YouTube videos while flipping back and forth between two shows and scanning social media on their phone. The most accurate part however was the comically immense number of channels available and that the TV was huge and flat.

6. Smartphones… ish? – The kids had their attention divided between family and the stuff that was going on inside their Google Glass-like smartphone-ish headsets. Spend a few hours with any teenager today and you’ll see how the kids in the movie (both played by Michael J. Fox) exhibited eerily prophetic behavior.

7. Face-to-face chat and ’round the clock working hours – Needles and Marty’s boss FaceTimed him outside of normal business hours. I’m glad Mr. Fujitsu did because if he only sent the fax that would have been messed up.

8. Lack of paper money – In 2015, we don’t walk around punching account numbers into each other’s calculators (was it supported by an honor system?) but that’s not too far off from the fact that chip-enabled ATM cards are responsible for many or most of our daily transactions.

9. The colors – in general, the future had a very colorful kick to it. I think this is worth mentioning because a lot of futuristic environments in film are very drab, dreary, and gray. This could be because the futuristic environment of Back to the Future II was more of a backdrop for some scenes than a plot-device in it’s own. Since the writers had no ulterior motives in the future they were concocting, they simply took the colorful aura of real-life and splattered it with gadgets and doohickeys.

What they almost got but not really – Biff and his gang had a futuristic punk look, but at the time there was no way to know that punk culture was going to evolve over the next 25 to 30 years and eventually morph into the nerdy hipster look that dominates modern counterculture. Also, the cars had a very sleek, wedge look to them. The creators did not predict that cars would explode in size and take on a luxurious look rather than a speedy look.

10. I almost forgot! What Back to the Future II did not have: doomsday and/or aliens and/or mutant humans and/or an Orwellian police-state (for now let’s set aside arguments that the USA in 2015 is that). In Back to the Future II, life on October 21, 2015 was pretty much the same as it was in the 1980s, just with more technology. Doesn’t that technically make it more prophetic than 95% of all futuristic sci-if?

Of Power and Money

Money begets power; power begets money. In this society, money is power and power is money. Right? Not only has this cliche vindicated itself as truth, it is intuition. Power influences money in your direction, while money leverages power through persuasion or coercion.

But what power comes with all the little things people buy with their money? Prestige via the appearance of having money? What power does a man with too many things really convey? Isn’t he actually communicating a subliminal message of weakness?

Perhaps it is money, only in its most liquid form, that leverages power. Having free cash means possessing the power to influence people and their actions.

It is that exact point at which the money is converted to a depreciable thing that the purchaser loses power. As a result of the transaction, what once had the power to persuade people into building something new has now been sunk into an object. Perhaps the object is a production input: a material or machine that will, in conjunction with some labor, produce something. But perhaps the object is merely something superflous and serves the sole purpose of giving the purchaser a temporary rush and the oh so human guilty pleasure that others are jealous of him.

When you give a good person money, you have invested in them and they are indebted to you. What about bad people? Once upon a time, humans lived in societies so small, shirkers and stiffers could hardly get away with their microcrimes because gossip would catch up to them. In the age of information symmetry, bad debtors will once again be subjected to the judgment of social ostracism.

Our entire economic system would benefit if we understood that true power comes not from tchotckes and trinkets, but from the ability of free cash to persuade others into action.