Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick Thoughts on Back to the Future

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianity
by Ben Howard

So far everything written on this site has been structured like a long form essay.  Those take some time to craft and write, so I wanted to try a few quick thoughts posts from our two most recent Movie Nights.  First, Back to the Future, and hopefully later today, Les Miserables.

Back to the Future places a heavy emphasis on the belief that your present life is eventually at the mercy of your past.  The person you were will eventually become the person you are.  The McFly’s, Doc Brown, and Biff are all the same characters they were in high school.  The only way for the McFly’s family life to improve is a change in the past because in the future they are locked into a life of lower-middle class despair and angst. 

This is really opposed to the Christian notion of an active God and redeemer.  The idea of redemption and the capactity for growth assume the ability to develop and change over time.  Essentially, they assume that, with the Spirit, we are not forever the person we are at any one time.  The movie even makes a somewhat similar point when Marty, an outside agent, forces George to confront his fears, thus enabling him to be the kind of man who becomes “successful” as seen in the return to 1985 at the end of the film.

Other topics of interest:
-Masculinity and bullying in the relationship between George and Biff.  George has to punch Biff to assert himself as the dominant male.

-Stories we tell ourselves and their relative truth. Lorraine tells Marty that she was never “that kind of girl”, but we learn that in the past she truly is.  Why do you avoid telling the truth about who we are/were?

-Success is based on power and monetary wealth.  Marty’s family is portrayed as poor and sad, but then when they are rich and successful later, they are happy.  The assumption is that “good” people overcome their obstacles and become successful.

-The myth of the idyllic society.  The 1950’s are presented as sparkling and clean, but there is the same violence, the same dark motivations, and the same problems as in 1985, only under a shiny veneer.


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