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Freditorial: BACK TO THE FUTURE II Jokes Are Awesome

Noroads-HQThe year 2015 is finally here, and some people didn’t even wait until January 1 to start making references to Back to the Future Part II. By January 2 they were in full force, and no sooner did Back to the Future Part II references proliferate social media than people started complaining about the amount and frequency of Back to the Future Part II jokes. I’m here to say making Back to the Future Part II jokes in 2015 is a wonderful thing, and I welcome them for the next 360-some days.

Why 2015 Matters

Some of us have been waiting 26 years for the year 2015. Making jokes about the benchmarks fictionally created in the 1989 film is our way of celebrating both the year and the film. So when people tweet about dressing like this:

It is an expression of love. We know it was just a movie. We don’t really want those outfits either. We just want to acknowledge that we dreamed about this year and it is finally here. It is also the first significant movie year we have lived through with social media.

I remember the year 2001 definitely seemed like a big step into the future, but references to the Kubrick film were minimal. They were made, but I don’t think even social media would have made 2001 jokes more prolific, because the future of 2001 was more distant than the future of Back to the Future. 2001 was a space movie in which astronauts piloted a mission to Jupiter. Even if that were happening in the year 2001 it wouldn’t feel as immediate to those of us living on the ground. We did have Twitter in 2010 but no one was making The Year We Made Contact jokes.

back_to_the_future_part_ii_ver4Back to the Future II was a future we were already living when Doc (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty (Michael J. Fox) visited it. It was not just a random year set far enough ahead to qualify as science fiction. It was within the lifetime of the characters, therefore our own lifetimes, so that we could expect to see it ourselves one day. It was also the evolution of phenomenon that had dominated the last four years of our lives, and the 26 since.

Why Back to the Future Matters

For many movie buffs, Back to the Future was a pivotal movie in the ‘80s. Whether we were sophisticated enough to understand the perfections of the script or the themes of witnessing one’s own parents’ childhood, or just thought it was a funny and exciting adventure, Back to the Future was part of our lives. Even I knew as a kid that the epilogue, in which Doc returns to bring Marty and Jennifer (Claudia Wells) to the future, was a joke, a fake “here we go again” capper. Even adding “To Be Continued” to the VHS, I didn’t take it seriously until they actually announced they were making a Back to the Future II.

Once it was a reality, Back to the Future Part II was probably the most I had ever anticipated a movie sequel in my young life. It was the legitimate continuation of one of the most important movies I’d ever experienced up to that point. And four years later was an eternity to a preteen, longer than any Star Wars sequel had taken, and I was even a tad too young to have grown up on Star Wars. Return of the Jedi already existed by the time I became a movie fan.

Back to the Future II picked up right where the original left off, albeit with Elisabeth Shue replacing Wells due to a family emergency in Wells’ life. (In real life, Wells has dressed me for the last four years at her store Armani Wells on Ventura Blvd. If you like my wardrobe, check out (http://www.armaniwells.com/aw/.) Part II showed us the year 2015, then 30 years from the 1985 of the original. We got the flying cars we expected to see once Doc lifted the De Lorean into the air, along with holograms, hoverboards, Max Headroom celebrity waiters, all sorts of technology and a cautionary glimpse into the McFlys’ future.

That was only the beginning as the real strength of the sequel was showing us an alternate present even worse than the one that began Back to the Future, and cleverly intersecting with itself in a return trip to 1955. I loved it immediately, though many hated it and considered the third film a redemption. It’s been nice to see folks come around to Back to the Future Part II over the decades.

How Back to the Future II Jokes Bring Us Together

So when people want to pretend that they are living in the year of a movie that meant so much to them, they are putting love into the world, something we could always use. There is so much volatility out there, if people want to remind us that 2015 is said to be a year when good things happen, let’s celebrate them.

Personally, I have never been happier to live in a year simply because of the numerical value of its date. I’ve back_to_the_future_part_ii_ver1had some great years, but for the past few days, just the knowledge that I’m living in the year of Back to the Future II has made me so happy. I always knew I would joke about it, but I feel an unexpected sense of fulfillment to have made it to the legendary 2015. That happiness will in turn welcome more happiness into my life. It’s the law of attraction, but just being happy for its own sake is worthwhile enough.

What I really wanted out of 2015 more than anything was for a real Back to the Future IV to be produced taking place in the real 2015 and sending Doc’s new assistant back to the 1985 of the original movie. The filmmakers and owners of the property have no interest in doing that, but I am a bit overwhelmed by how much living in this year of legend means to me.

It’s not about having hoverboards. Most of us got over that when Robert Zemeckis revealed he was joking, and most of us don’t even skateboard anyway. We live with even greater technology than Back to the Future II could have even imagined, such as smart phones and social media, although there are many good articles out there about what the film correctly predicted (http://www.11points.com/Movies/11_Predictions_That_Back_to_the_Future_Part_II_Got_Right). Simply feeling like I’ve actually caught up to one of my favorite movies is lovely.

You can even tell how deep a fan of Back to the Future Part II someone is by the level of their reference. If all they’re talking about is hoverboards, they probably only saw the trailer. Jaws sequels mean they’ve seen the film and Grays Sports Almanac means they know the film deeply. People who figured out how Marty’s 1985 actions butterfly effected hoverboards out of existence have thought about this as much as I have.


What are we even doing on social media if not celebrating the things we love? People will do it for Blade Runner too. Bill Maher already skipped write over Back to the Future and Tweeted about replicants.

Maybe some people will do Demolition Man eventually. There won’t be a future movie as celebrated as Back to the Future Part II for many years though. Probably not until we catch up to Star Trek, unless someone makes a future film as popular as Back to the Future II before then. Even Blade Runner is a more specialized obsession, and a dark future. The darkness in Marty McFly’s 2015 is just a cautionary example which he corrects by the end of the trilogy.

If you’re really so annoyed that people are tweeting silly references to a movie they like, be patient. It’s only the first week of January. Most people will simply get over it. Just you wait until October 21 though. That’s the date to which Doc and Marty actually traveled. I’m not planning to stop celebrating the year 2015 until well beyond that date.