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The future is now. Well, today to be exact. In honor of Back to the Future day—October 21, 2015, when Marty traveled to the future—we’re taking a look back at the sets of this popular trilogy to see how it impacted our lives and our homes. So get into your Delorean and buckle up, it’s one heck of a ride through the space-time continuum.
When the Delorean descends into Hill Valley in the future (well, actually today if you’re keeping track) cars are flying, and people move around on hover boards. While these advancements in technology exist outside of mainstream society, the screen-centric lifestyle we have today was successfully predicted.
Flatscreens are found in just about every home, and people wear digital specs akin to Google Glass. I feel like it should be acknowledged that when Marty traveled back to 1955 families were just getting their first television sets, and when Marty lets it slip that his family has more than one television his prepubescent uncle calls him rich. My how the times have changed. In 2015, families like the McFlys stayed connected with video-conferencing (now FaceTime and Skype) and
homemade home-rehydrated meals around the dinner table (now Seamless and Munchery deliveries).
Today, we seem to be moving away somewhat from this consumption-dominant culture that was popular throughout the last 30 years. Maybe we could go so far to say that what makes life in 2015 ring false in this movie is the lack of heart. So much of what the movie forecasted was accurate, but as consumers we do value thoughtful design and craftsmanship. According to Rick Carter, the production designer on the Back to the Future II movie, “set design was an attempt to stimulate in the time it was made, and in the late 1980’s buying stuff was huge.”
Since the Reagan era, we’ve only become more efficient at amassing stuff. From our open-handed receptiveness to the idea of drone-delivered packages (drones were another thing the movie got right) to thumbprint scans for payment because we can’t take another second to have our stuff in our hands. Side note, we also see the foretelling of thumbprint identification in the movie when Officers Foley and Reese of Unit N11-11 take an unconscious Jennifer Jane Parker McFly home in their hover squad car, after verified her identity and address. You do have to admire the ingenuity of brands like Nike (featured in this 1980’s film with self-tying sneakers) waiting until today to tease the launch of just that—an item we don’t really need but created to satisfy that question of what if.
It’s not just product placement, but the branding of our culture, Carter told NPR in an interview. “This was no longer the hippie era where everything that was of corporations was being pushed to the side in terms of being hip or cool. It was a celebration of what the culture and the economy was creating.”
I’m not completely ruling out the validity of 2015 in Back to the Future II. After all, there are glimpses of an appreciation for the yester-year that I think are present nowaday. The sports almanac may have wreaked more havoc than offered peace, but antique computers, dustbusters and all of those no-longer-useful items were still viewed as treasures, admired as trailblazers in achieving the imaginable.
Like Marty would say, that’s heavy.