We Don’t Need Roads

The future is today.

Or, at least it was in a fictional 1985, when Marty McFly traveled forward in time to October 21, 2015.

It also happens to be the real-world 30th anniversary of the original Back to the Future film.

Grab your hover board, light-up auto-lacing Nikes, Pepsi Perfect and—of course—your flux capacitors, and help us celebrate this momentous occasion by sharing your favorite BTTF memories, moments and ephemera!

I recently exposed myself to the hilarious madness that is Rick and Morty and noticed that the title characters bare more than a passing resemblance to Doc Brown and Marty McFly.


© Universal Studios


© Time Warner

My suspicions were confirmed after I found an extremely not safe for work Back to the Future parody from Justin Roiland, co-creator of Rick and Morty. It even featured samples of Alan Silvestri‘s iconic score. Hearing that triumphant theme (that’s been comfortably stuck in my head for weeks now) was enough to make me want to rewatch the entire trilogy, which I consider to be one ginormous near-six hour movie. Obviously, they’re still great, but there were a lot of questions I had now that the wide-eyed younger version of me didn’t/couldn’t even think about before. For instance, if I were George McFly, there’s no way I’d employ the high school bully to wash and wax my vehicles. Especially when that bully was moments away from sexually assaulting my future wife in the high school parking lot the night of the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Space-time continuum be damned, that’s just messed up.


The classic “I-used-to-be-a-high-school-bully-but-now-I-act-like-neutered-ne’er-do-well” pose. Also, tracksuit.
© Universal Studios


The Back to the Future movies hinge on the idea that what you change in the past can have big, sometimes unexpected, consequences in your own present and future. So when I started thinking about what I would do if I could travel back in time, I quickly decided I wouldn’t do anything. As we also see in Ray Bradbury’s famous story, “A Sound of Thunder,” the tiniest change can have far-reaching effects. I don’t want to knock over a lamp in 1899 and come back to find out Andrew Carnegie never established any public libraries. There’s a scary thought.

I wouldn’t change anything in my own past either. Sure, I wish I hadn’t been caught skipping gym that time in high school, but our pasts makes us who we are.

Maybe I would travel to the future, though. It would be pretty cool if my Honda could fly. Of course, according to Back to the Future II, that technology should be available now. I like the idea that in some alternate version of 2015, people are powering their (flying) cars with mini fusion reactors using only household trash. That other 2015 has a lot more Jaws sequels than we do, too, but I don’t feel like I missed out on that one. Still, it’s cool to imagine that in that alternate timeline, right now, Marty is out there experiencing a future we only dreamed of.


If Marty goes back in time and changes the future, shouldn’t he by the nature of time travel change his own memories? Why does he retain the memory of what happened, but for everyone else, the new reality is the only reality they’ve ever been aware of?

If I think about this too long, my head spins. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter, because Back to the Future is so much fun. Doc is lovable because he’s the archetypal mad scientist. Marty is lovable because he’s the semi-clueless teenager we can all relate to (unless you haven’t hit the magical year of 13 yet, in which case, get ready for some crazy stuff). Together, they are an adorable, delightful—and most importantly—flawed team.

Even though Marty sort of bumbles his way through the trilogy, engaging in plenty of whacky antics and skateboard/hover board stunts, these are movies about second chances. About new beginnings and better futures.

And no matter how much time travel can make my head spin, I will always love Back to the Future for reminding me about the power of the choices we make and the second chances life gives us.


In case this post didn’t have enough BTTF goodness for you, check out the marathons happening at the Rowhouse Cinema in Lawrenceville, or snap up this box set that contains remastered music from all three movies on vinyl.

And, of course, you can always check out these BTTF-related goodies from your favorite library:

If you could travel to the future or the past, where would you go, and what would you change (if anything)?

-Team Eleventh Stack

1 Comment

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One response to “We Don’t Need Roads

  1. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years
    The Science Geek

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