Back to the Future day fulfills a desire we all know

You probably did not miss it, but just to be sure: it is Back to the Future day today. Every newspaper is writing about it and on Twitter, everybody is enthusiastically tweeting photos of themselves with two ties around their necks. Why does this day cause so much fuzz and are there other films that have similar days?Most students at the university were born after the Back to the Future films were released. For them, the English news website Independent wrote a guide to get through today. What you need to know about it, is that Back to the Future is a trilogy, released in 1985, 1989 and 1990. In the first film, Marty McFly, the main character, travels to the past, 1955, to make sure his parents get together so he can exist. In the second film, he travels to 2015, because his future son needs him. The date he travels to can be seen on his car, that is also a time machine. He travels to 21 October 2015. In short: today.

Associate professor Hans van Driel, from TSH, says that the hype around Back to the Future as it can be seen on this day is explainable. “Most other science fiction films break through the viewer’s reality more radically. This film is easier to absorb for people. The producers took the reality of the 1980’s and elaborated on it, instead of creating a completely new one.” Another reason for the huge success of the films is that they fulfill a need that everybody secretly has, according to Van Driel. “People want to know what their life will look like in thirty years. They are also a bit scared to know, but it is a desire everybody secretly has.”

Apart from that, the comedy in the films is very smart, says Van Driel. “Or at least in the first two. The producers play with the knowledge we have of our reality, and place that in another time. Like in the first film, when Marty travels to the past and plays Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode at a school dance his parents attend. The crowd does not like it, and he says: ‘your children will love it’.” Today, the media are doing the same and try to see what predictions of the films have come true, knowing what we know now. Like the Daily Mail. For example, Marty flies on a Hoverboard, a flying skateboard. Several companies have attempted to make one, but the use of it is still not wide-spread. What we are very used to already, and the film has predicted correctly, is the flat-screen tv, virtual reality glasses, and smartwatches. To name a few.

Van Driel does not know if there are any other films that have created such a hype around one particular date. An internet search does not yield anything as big as Back to the Future day, but there are still some examples of dates being influenced by popular culture. For example, Towel Day. This day is meant as a tribute to Douglas Adams, the writer of Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and is held on 25 May. In the books and films, the most important item to carry with you on a hike, is a towel. Fans of the books carry a towel with them to show their appreciation for Adams.

Another day worth mentioning is Guy Fawkes day, when the British celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. Of course, this day did not arise because of a film, but V for Vendetta sure made it more known. For a world-wide audience, the film might have been the first acquaintance with the rime Remember, remember the fifth of November,/ gunpowder treason and plot./ I know of no reason why gunpowder treason/ should ever be forgot.And then there is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, on 19 September. On this day’s website, we read that John Baur and Mark Summers, just two guys, came up with the day in 1995. “Mark came up with September 19. That was and is his ex-wife’s birthday, and the only date he could readily recall that wasn’t taken up with something like Christmas or the Super Bowl or something.” Especially on Facebook, people have celebrated this day with full commitment in the past years. The way we speak on that day, though, is of course not at all how real pirates spoke. It is the way Robert Newton spoke when he played Long John Silver in Disney’s Treasure Island. More information about that can be found on this Wikipedia page and in this QI with Stephen Fry video.

Bekijk meer recent nieuws

Schrijf je in voor onze nieuwsbrief

Blijf op de hoogte. Meld je aan voor de nieuwsbrief van Univers.