Back to the Future, Time Travel, and the Secret History of the 1980s

Tim Carmody
Jan 13, 2015 · 10 min read

Comparing 2015 to the movie is also super boring.

You’re gonna see some serious shit.

I’ll tell you a secret: the Back to the Future movies aren’t about the future. They’re obsessed with the past.

I’ll tell you another secret: the technology of the 1980s is way more interesting than hoverboards. It’s also way more important to understanding these movies.

1955 / 1985 / 2015

This means that we are now as far removed from 1985, the year the first film premiered, as that film was from 1955, the past it lovingly recreated and gently mocked.

“This is truly amazing… A portable television studio.”

1985 really sits at the juncture of the analog and digital eras.

Nothing says “the future” like a Darth Vader voice and a little Van Halen.
Even if Doc could afford his own video camera, he’d still need Marty to operate it.

Marty hangs out with Doc because Doc has the best speakers and guitar amps.

Doc hangs out with Marty because Marty has a video camera.

It is clear that in this early clash between the media and technology industries, the technology companies won.

The Message

A Pandaemonium Revolver Collection. Season 2 stars @anildash @alanalevinson @ftrain @hipstercrite @itsthebrandi @jamielaurenkeiles @vijithassar @yungrama @zeynep. Season 1 available on DVD shortly.

Thanks to Quinn Norton and Jessamyn West.

Tim Carmody

Written by

Writer/editor, most recently for The Message. Alumnus of Wired and The Verge. Reporter, redhead, recovering academic. Everything changes. Don't be afraid.

The Message

A Pandaemonium Revolver Collection. Season 2 stars @anildash @alanalevinson @ftrain @hipstercrite @itsthebrandi @jamielaurenkeiles @vijithassar @yungrama @zeynep. Season 1 available on DVD shortly.