Welcome to “Gaining XP,” a segment in which one of our 6NC writers attempt to build up their nerd cred by trying things they might have missed out on as kids. This week Mindy finally decides to go Back to the Future, learn about gigawatts, and begins a new journey as an advocate for time traveling dogs.
Okay. So here’s the deal. I’m gonna get real with you folks for a second… because it’s my understanding that Back to the Future is one of those tentpole nerd movies with a huge fanbase powered by a heaping dose of nostalgia. I’ve seen footage of cover bands and DeLorean competitions based around this movie. “The Power of Love” comes on at a bar, and people lose their minds. From what I can tell, people love this movie. So here’s my question:
Why is this movie so freaking creepy?
Is it just me? Does everyone else watch Back to the Future and go “Oh that Marty! He gets into so much hijinks!” and completely gloss over how twisted the plot is? Because here’s what I see.
Dude. That’s your mom.
I started with the obvious, and I think this is one thing we can all agree on. It is super weird that his mom wants to bone him. But my specific issue with this situation is that Marty makes very little effort into squashing her crush on him. Look, If you met your mom’s younger self, and she exhibited any signs of attraction, wouldn’t you nip that in the bud? Quit being a cool guy on a skateboard and put some effort into shutting your mom down, Marty. Instead, his approach to fixing this issue is to help his (peeping tom!) dad win his mom over by planning to sexually assault her. Wait, that can’t be right… no one would think that’s an appropriate scene to put in a family film. What? That’s the actual plot?
But he’s just going to pretend to assault her so his dad can win her over, so that’s okay, right? Actually, this brings me to my next point.
Who is Lorraine?
The character Lorraine seems to have no purpose other than to be a seductress or an object of desire. She is either lusted after by someone or is lusting after someone – she literally does nothing else. At the climax of the movie she is the ultimate damsel in distress needing to be saved from rape (again, real fitting for a family film), and she pretty much instantly falls for the person who saves her. She has no agency in any of her decisions, and maybe it’s because it’s the year 2017 and I’m an adult woman, but this really bothered me.
Exacerbating this issue is the fact that Lorraine is literally miserable in the beginning of the film. Sure, this actually seems to be the case for the entire family, but what bothers me about Lorraine’s situation is that she seems to be quite happy back in the ‘50s. George McFly is a real creepy weirdo, so I can buy that he would grow up to be a socially awkward adult, but what happened to Lorraine in the 30 years since high school? With the information given, I can only guess that being married to George somehow ruined her life and made her unhappy – meaning her happiness literally depended on her husband. She seems quite happy and fulfilled in the end of the film (in the timeline in which Marty helps George become a braver man, so it’s safe to say she’s just a reflection of her husband.
Einstein – the lost hero.
So I’ll admit it: as soon as I figured out there was a dog in this movie, I lost interest in all of the other characters. I eagerly waited for his screen debut, and I was not disappointed by his appearance. Unfortunately, my happy feelings were replaced with horror as I realized that this Doc character was about to send the dog somewhere back in time by himself. Listen, you do not send a dog anywhere in time without a buddy. I’ve seen that Futurama episode with Fry’s dog – it messed me up. Always make sure you and your dog are in the same period of time, because he may be the one to warn you about Libyan terrorists.
Einstein seemed to be okay though, and because of Marty’s meddling Doc prevented his own death and Einstein had an owner again and all was well with the world. For a total of five minutes. In the very end scene Doc comes to take Marty and Jennifer to the future, leaving Einstein behind. What did I just say about making sure your dog is in the same time period as you?! What if something happens to you, and your dog is left to forever sit by the door waiting for you to come back? I can’t. I can’t go through this again.
Being 30 just really doesn’t help.
Look. Despite the shell of a woman, the rape, and the dog neglect, I understand why Back to the Future is beloved by so many people. It’s silly and funny, and I guess when you’re a kid a lot of that pesky sexual assault stuff just kind of flies over your head. Seeing it for the first time through the eyes of a modern day 30 year old woman just doesn’t paint the material in the best light, especially since this is the kind of movie you’re supposed to just have fun with instead of questioning every little thing (but seriously, how did Marty meet Doc? What’s the extent of their relationship? How did George win over Lorraine without Marty in the first place? Wouldn’t you think it was super weird that one of your sons grew up to look exactly like that cool kid in high school that was all over your relationship?).
Overall, I would say I didn’t hate the film despite its issues. It was the 80s: casual sexual assault was super “in” and fleshed out female characters weren’t the norm, so I can’t blame the film for existing in a different time (I can, however, judge the 80s). But I obviously can’t say that I loved the film or that it did anything for me. It’s something I wouldn’t mind putting on in the background, but I don’t think it’s anything I’ll be seeking out. In my opinion, this is a movie that really needs the feeling of nostalgia to work, and if that’s missing it’s just kind of a mediocre film. I’m sure if I’d seen it at a younger age, I would probably appreciate it more, but for now I’ll just have to just be satisfied that I finally know what a flux capacitor is.