Like most kids born in the 70’s, I spent most of childhood days outside until the street lights came on. TV wasn’t an important piece of entertainment, unless it was Saturday morning cartoons or one of a handful of shows I was allowed to watch in the evening. I didn’t know what Star Wars was until much later, and I certainly have never heard the term ‘Sci-Fi’ or ‘Geek’ at that point.
Right before my eighth birthday, I remember seeing a trailer for this movie with my current Teen Beat crush, Michael J. Fox. I was too young to go to the movies to see it, but I remember when my local video store finally had a copy of it on VHS (latest and great technology back then kids), I felt like it was Christmas morning.
Aside from the fact that Fox headlined the movie, I was immediately engrossed. I was enamoured with Doc Brown and Einstein, yet completely confused by anything he was saying. I remember turning to my parents and saying, “a giga-what?” They shrugged and continued watching. I can’t lie, nine year old me was a little nervous during the scenes with the Iranians. That microbus outfitted with a bazooka was a bit much, but I knew Marty would get away!
As a kid who knew what it was like to feel different among their peers, my heart broke for George McFly as he was berated and belittled. I cheered loudly every time Marty put Biff in his place (and much like Marty’s mother, swooned a little too). But the clincher for me was the scene where Marty snuck into George’s room in his radiation suit, walkman and Metallica tape, scaring the bezeeus out of him in order to get him to go along with the plan – ask Lorraine to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance… Damnit, George, she’s your destiny!
It was then that I realized: this movie, these characters and this extraordinary situation, was what I was missing. An out-of-the world adventure that this seemingly ordinary kid got thrown into, was better than anything I had ever seen. Even at nine, I truly began to wonder about the possibility of time travel to right wrongs, butterfly effect be damned.
After Back to the Future, my taste in TV shows and movies changed. I didn’t want to watch anything that wasn’t about aliens, time travel or having to do with the supernatural. By the time 1991 rolled around and the X-Files came into my life, I was a full-fledged sci-fi geek and loving every second of it. I felt like I had found my people. I was engrossed in worlds beyond our imaginations, watching extraordinary characters do extraordinary things.
Let’s also be clear – I am as much in love with Back to the Future Parts II and III as I was with the first one. I don’t discriminate. I am one of those people that are excited for October 21, 2015 and the arrival of Marty McFly in our time! Although, I am a smidge disappointed we don’t have the technology that Robert Zemeckis showed us in their version of 2015.
Unrealistic, sure – but I am a child of sci-fi and its my duty to wish for flying cars, hover boards and interactive televisions (okay, well, that one is actually pretty real).
Here I am, thirty years later and watching the DeLorean take off again, this time with my own kids. I can’t wait to watch them be entertained, but this time when they turn to me and ask me, “giga-what?” I can easily say, “It’s 1.21 GIGAWATTS of electrical power to operate the flux capacitor, which then enables the DeLorean to travel through time once it hits 88 mph.” Science, man.
Happy 30th Anniversary Back to the Future – thank you for the many years of entertainment, movie quotes, and an introduction to a genre that has forever changed my life.