Like the revelers atop the Capitol Records Building in Independence Day, today we await the arrival of Marty McFly.
October 21, 2015: that’s the future date Michael J. Fox’s McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II. Err… it’s the present date — now — but it’s the future date in the past when past Marty flies to the future before going back to the past.
The 2015 of Back to the Future Part II portrays a world we don’t quite have (yet), though some of the predictions are a little more prescient than you’d think. Below: five things Back to the Future Part II got right and five it got very, very wrong.
1. Jaws 19
When McFly gets to 2015, he sees that Jaws 19 is screening in Holomax. The film reflexively pokes fun at sequels (despite ending with a “to be continued” title card), though we doubt that Robert Zemeckis could have realized just how sequel-obsessed we’d eventually become. We haven’t quite made it to Jaws 19 yet, but we’re well on the way with another Saw, the eighth Fast & The Furious and three more Star Wars films coming out before summer 2017.
2. Baseball in Florida
It seemed ridiculous in 1989 that the MLB would have a team in Florida, but it was only four years later that Miami got the Marlins and four years after that that Tampa got the Rays. The idea seemed ridiculous enough to the writers that they juxtaposed a team in Florida with the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. The Marlins went on to win two World Series; the Rays one.
3. The Future of Interfacing
The film depicts modern communication devices with surprising accuracy. Videoconferencing, personal mobiles, wearable tech and tablets are all represented.
4. Scenery Channel
The Scenery Channel is basically a window into a place where you don’t live. It seems ridiculous, but don’t forget that Norwegian TV channel broadcast 12 hours of wood burning in 2013 to huge success.
Everybody who saw Marty’s hoverboard couldn’t wait until the future arrived and they could have one of their own. Well, hoverboards actually exist now. Lexus makes one. If you backed Hendo on Kickstarter, you should be getting yours today. To say nothing of the slowly-becoming-ubiquitous two-wheeled Segway things that are called hoverboards but aren’t actually.
1. Fax Machines
The film was right about electronics living in every room, leaving us over-connected. What they got wrong was that the fax machine would be one of those electronics.
2. USA Today’s Domination
The film not only missed the death of the daily newspaper, it also projects USA Today as a media monolith. Probably more down to product placement than prediction, but the USA Today of today has neither hovering video crews nor coverage of breaking news. They do have complimentary copies at Holiday Inn, though.
3. Handheld Sleep Induction
Very useful device when time traveling. Frightening device if it actually existed.
4. The Justice System, Streamlined
When McFly discovers his son is going to be arrested, it’s revealed he was sentenced two hours after he committed the crime in a new streamlined justice system where lawyers are a thing of the past. Thankfully, the justice system still includes legal representation, even if the system can move at a glacial pace and be slow to correct itself.
5. World Series Champion Chicago Cubs
You knew it was coming.