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Old 03-29-2015, 09:01 PM
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The strange double-dipped nostalgia of "Back to the Future" (open spoilers)


Open spoilers! If you haven't seen this movie, then get in your time machine and watch it in the theater in 1985!

Soon it will be 30 years after this movie came out. Does it still hold up? Well, I watched it today and I would say: yes, it absolutely does. Some things seem better, a few seem worse than when I first saw it in the theater, but it's still a great movie (I actually have not seen it many times since I first saw it, perhaps only once, so it was indeed a big refresher for me).

Pros:

1. The acting in this is fantastic. Scott, Lloyd, and Crispin put in performances that are, well, classic. Thompson and Wilson (as Biff) are also fabulous.

2. The movie creates real excitement. I of course knew what was going to happen, but I was still on the edge of my couch. I had kind of forgotten what that feeling was like, really. Few movies deliver that. And this one does again and again.

3. The movie delivers the time travel experience as few have ever done (one that equals it, IMO, is "Peggy Sue Got Married," which came out one year later).

4. There is real satisfaction in seeing the bully get beaten in this. Again, few movies have delivered this well IMO.

5. The plot is intricately crafted and all the pieces fit together beautifully. This is a movie to emulate when it comes to plot and flow. One of the all-time best.

Cons:

1. There is a lot of ham-fisted Hollywood-style foreshadowing. I understand the point, but it could have been done a bit more subtly.

2. Characters react a bit too forcefully to McFly not making sense to them. For example, he mentions John F. Kennedy Drive, and Lorraine's dad says, "Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?" Haw haw, future president. In reality, a person would say, "Who's that?" or, "I don't know that street," or just not notice he had said it in the first place. Again, more subtlety would have been better.

3. One un-PC thing that I've read about elsewhere and agree with is showing McFly play a Chuck Berry tune and thus influence Chuck Berry. I.e., showing a white guy schooling the black guy who actually wrote the music. Now since McFly learned from Berry himself, one can argue he wasn't really doing that. But it had been better just to leave this out.

One interesting thing is that this movie is now double-dipped nostalgia. It is a movie that inspires nostalgia for seeing this movie in the theater, that era, while being nostalgic about the 50s.

Here is an article that gets this nostalgia and some things about BttF wrong:

Quote:
This works on smaller scales too. The movie Back to the Future came out in 1985, and “the past” took place in 1955. In the movie, when Michael J. Fox went back to 1955, he was caught off-guard by the newness of TVs, the prices of soda, the lack of love for shrill electric guitar, and the variation in slang. It was a different world, yes—but if the movie were made today and the past took place in 1985, the movie could have had much more fun with muchbigger differences. The character would be in a time before personal computers, internet, or cell phones—today’s Marty McFly, a teenager born in the late 90s, would be much more out of place in 1985 than the movie’s Marty McFly was in 1955.
This is laughably wrong, but the person believes that the technological Singularity is coming soon, so... But the interesting question is, "Why is it wrong?" I think there are two reasons:

1. There is not nostalgia for the 80s in the same way there was and still is nostalgia for the 1950s and early 1960s.

2. The world has actually changed a lot less 1985-2015 than 1955-1985.

A related thread is one I started about a year ago but before I read the above article:

Why are the 50s and 60s a unique target of nostalgia, and is it justified?

I was 14 in 1985 and am not nostalgic for that period beyond liking some pop culture from the time. I think very few people want to go back and live there, whereas the world of the 1950s still is attractive to many in this regard. Moreover, the 80s don't seem that long ago. They seem like today but without cell phones and the Internet (actually, my dad had Prodigy in the 80s, so technically we *did* have the Internet, though I wasn't interested in going online at that point... And my mom had a phone in her car...)

What was different about the 80s was that there was still unironic pop culture, and I think people look back on that with nostalgia. BttF is a very sincere movie. The Breakfast Club was a very sincere movie. Music was pretty earnest in general. In contrast, I saw a couple days ago the movie, Easy A which desperately wants to be a John Hughes movie but is all ironic, referential (to John Hughes movies, etc.), fatigued (no, I didn't like it). (FWIW, right after that I watched Pitch Perfect, a fairly entertaining movie that also references The Breakfast Club.)

BttF is entirely predicated on the world in 1985 feeling a *lot* different than in 1955. It was just 30 years, but it felt like forever. If someone tried to remake BttF now with someone going back to 1985, people would go, "Huh?!" It wouldn't work at all. But if you had someone going from 2015 to 1955, yep, that would still work!

So the double-dip nostalgia is not wanting to go back to 1955 and also wanting to go back to 1985. Rather, we see 1955 as a wonderfully different world and BttF as a wonderfully different type of movie.

Last edited by Aeschines; 03-29-2015 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 03-29-2015, 10:19 PM
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Cons:

1. There is a lot of ham-fisted Hollywood-style foreshadowing. I understand the point, but it could have been done a bit more subtly.

2. Characters react a bit too forcefully to McFly not making sense to them. For example, he mentions John F. Kennedy Drive, and Lorraine's dad says, "Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?" Haw haw, future president. In reality, a person would say, "Who's that?" or, "I don't know that street," or just not notice he had said it in the first place. Again, more subtlety would have been better.

3. One un-PC thing that I've read about elsewhere and agree with is showing McFly play a Chuck Berry tune and thus influence Chuck Berry. I.e., showing a white guy schooling the black guy who actually wrote the music. Now since McFly learned from Berry himself, one can argue he wasn't really doing that. But it had been better just to leave this out.

One interesting thing is that this movie is now double-dipped nostalgia. It is a movie that inspires nostalgia for seeing this movie in the theater, that era, while being nostalgic about the 50s.
I agree with all of your "Pros" and there have been many threads on this board about how a 2015 teenager would act in 1985. I think you are understating the difference. Just take the moment when Marty first walks into town in 1955. He sees someone throw away the newspaper and picks it out of the trashcan to verify the date.

Would teens today even think to get a date from a newspaper? They would probably still be looking at their IPhones. Then he walks into the diner to make a phone call. Would teens today know to use the phone book and how to place a pay phone call?

But as to your Cons:

1. Agreed. That was, however, typical of 80s movies.

2. Disagree. It was a pretty small town with the streets having typical names: Main, Ash, Poplar, Maple, etc. If someone came to your small town and was looking for Marvin C. Hammersmith Drive, you might very well ask "Who the hell is Marvin C. Hammersmith?"

3. Nah, you are reading too much into that, especially the racial part. It was meant to be a funny bit about Chuck Berry. Nothing more.

I also think that people could be nostalgic for the 80s, but I agree with your point that it probably isn't to the magnitude of people in the 80s being nostalgic for the 50s.
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Old 03-29-2015, 10:41 PM
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I agree with all of your "Pros" and there have been many threads on this board about how a 2015 teenager would act in 1985. I think you are understating the difference. Just take the moment when Marty first walks into town in 1955. He sees someone throw away the newspaper and picks it out of the trashcan to verify the date.

Would teens today even think to get a date from a newspaper? They would probably still be looking at their IPhones. Then he walks into the diner to make a phone call. Would teens today know to use the phone book and how to place a pay phone call?
Well, I agree that someone really traveling back in time would freak out, and that could make for a cool movie scene. Even if the time difference was just five years.

I don't think the fun of McFly going back from 1985 to 1955 is really based on technological change. It's based on social and aesthetic change. There is a thrill of seeing him go back "that really different and cool in its own way" time. I felt it too in the theater, even though I hadn't lived through that time. I don't think that works with going back to 1985. It would be like, "Ugh, mall hair and hair metal and ugh." Personally, I hated pop culture in general in the late 80s and idolized the 70s (not so much as nostalgia but as a better time I had actually lived through quite recently).
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:00 PM
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We seem to be about the same age. Neither was born in 1955 and were children in 1985. We have experienced incremental, daily change from 1985 to the present. It is easy to think that not much has changed, when it really has changed dramatically. However, the year 1955 has always seemed like a magical time that has never existed for us. I can see how a kid born in 1998 would view 1985 the same way.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:10 PM
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We seem to be about the same age. Neither was born in 1955 and were children in 1985. We have experienced incremental, daily change from 1985 to the present. It is easy to think that not much has changed, when it really has changed dramatically. However, the year 1955 has always seemed like a magical time that has never existed for us. I can see how a kid born in 1998 would view 1985 the same way.
That doesn't fit. People in 1985 were nostalgic for 1955 because they had lived through it and thought of it as a better time. There was also, as you say, nostalgia on the part of those who had *not* lived through it. But according to your argument, someone who had been around in 1955 would have experienced "incremental, daily change from 1955 to the present." That wasn't the case; people felt (and still feel) there was a big gap between those two periods.

I personally do *not* feel a big gap between 1985 and 2015. I'm sure there are some people who look back on 1985 with the level of nostalgia people feel for the 50s and early 60s, but I haven't met them.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:23 PM
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1. The acting in this is fantastic. Scott, Lloyd, and Crispin put in performances that are, well, classic. Thompson and Wilson (as Biff) are also fabulous.
Scott?

Last edited by cochrane; 03-29-2015 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:25 PM
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Scott?
Lol, Fox.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:29 PM
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Lol, Fox.
Great Scott!

At least you didn't call him Alex P. Keaton or Mike Flaherty.

Last edited by cochrane; 03-29-2015 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:31 PM
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Great Scott!

At least you didn't call him Alex P. Keaton or Mike Flaherty.
lol
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Old 03-30-2015, 01:09 AM
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Soon it will be 30 years after this movie came out. Does it still hold up? Well, I watched it today and I would say: yes, it absolutely does.
I just wanted to comment that BTTF is somewhat rare in that it is a 30 year old movie that is actually still fairly popular among today's kids and teens. Many of whom have never seen the original Star Wars trilogy, or ET, or Ghostbusters--but they love Back To The Future!
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Old 03-30-2015, 02:37 AM
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3. One un-PC thing that I've read about elsewhere and agree with is showing McFly play a Chuck Berry tune and thus influence Chuck Berry. I.e., showing a white guy schooling the black guy who actually wrote the music. Now since McFly learned from Berry himself, one can argue he wasn't really doing that. But it had been better just to leave this out.
This really seems to be a reach.
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Old 03-30-2015, 04:15 AM
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I just wanted to comment that BTTF is somewhat rare in that it is a 30 year old movie that is actually still fairly popular among today's kids and teens. Many of whom have never seen the original Star Wars trilogy, or ET, or Ghostbusters--but they love Back To The Future!
Data point: my daughters, ages 5 and 8, loved ET and the original Star Wars trilogy although they saw the latter when they were a bit young (three years ago).

I'll probably watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail with them next week.I haven't had the opportunity to show them Ghostbusters and Back To The Future but they're definitely on the short list. So is The Exorcist but my wife insists that it'll have to wait for some time .
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Old 03-30-2015, 04:59 AM
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Scott?
Mike Fox played a 'Scott' in another 1980's teen movie. I guess the OP was unconsciously remembering that.
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:18 AM
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Mike Fox played a 'Scott' in another 1980's teen movie. I guess the OP was unconsciously remembering that.
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:25 AM
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Alot of us around age 20 in 1985 had grown up watching "Happy Days" which was based on the 50's so we knew alot about that era.

And the 50's, its never explored but it would suck to be black since in reality, if McFly had been black he might not have been allowed into that 1950's restaurant.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:33 AM
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The Chuck Berry issue is really just a joke; no one seriously believes the movie is making a point about who wrote Johnny B. Goode. The entire reason it's funny is that it's absurd.

I don't think it's a con that people react the way they do to Calvin. It's really a dramatic necessity: if you show people reacting subtly, the audience might miss the point. A "where's that?" reaction to JFK drive would hide the joke; saying "Who's John F. Kennedy?" is how you need to write the scene to make it work (JFK was a senator at the time of the film, BTW, and could easily have been known, especially since his marriage to Jackie was in the news a few years earlier). I do love subtle jokes, but you can't write a movie with Arrested Developmentsubtlety in all cases.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:44 AM
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The Chuck Berry issue is really just a joke; no one seriously believes the movie is making a point about who wrote Johnny B. Goode. The entire reason it's funny is that it's absurd.
The movie has many funny jokes, but this one is ham-fisted. "Chuck, it's your cousin, Marvin. Marvin Berry," says the guy on the phone. And I think it's in poor taste, considering how black musicians often languished while white and safe versions like Pat Boone lapped up the dough. I don't personally take great offense to it, but it wasn't necessary or all that clever.

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I don't think it's a con that people react the way they do to Calvin. It's really a dramatic necessity: if you show people reacting subtly, the audience might miss the point. A "where's that?" reaction to JFK drive would hide the joke; saying "Who's John F. Kennedy?" is how you need to write the scene to make it work (JFK was a senator at the time of the film, BTW, and could easily have been known, especially since his marriage to Jackie was in the news a few years earlier). I do love subtle jokes, but you can't write a movie with Arrested Developmentsubtlety in all cases.
There is a certainly a range where some reactions are totally believable and some are over the top. It's a nitpick, more or less. The pros of this film far, far outweigh the cons.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:20 AM
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Chuck Berry and in particular Johnny B. Goode are really the only choice for the Awesome Song scene. Marty played guitar and needed a hot song that he could shred, 50's style, for the kids of the day. What other song of that era had such a reach out and grab you opening?
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:23 AM
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I'm right in that age demo - I was 16 when the movie came out in 1985. My teen years neatly spanned the decade of the 1980's, and I certainly do feel a bit of nostalgia for those times. Not because times were better; but aren't most people or at least those with happy childhoods a little nostalgic about their teens?

I remember the '50's nostalgia: American Graffiti and Happy Days and the oldies radio my parents listened to. In general we don't have that same level or retro-fondness for the 80s today but we still have '80s radio stations and the occasional movie set in the 80s.

I strongly disagree with the OP about the level of change - the difference between 1985 and 2015 is MUCH greater than between '55 and '85. Most of the differences explored in the movie were just cultural references - Ronald Reagan and Kennedy being unknown; a black man dreaming about becoming mayor and told to get back to sweeping the floor; the unavailability of diet cola.

But contrast what a teenager going back from today would discover: no mobile phones, let alone smart phones. If you want to talk to someone on the phone you have to find a phone book and look up their name - and if it's a common name, you'd better know their address already. If they're not home, you've got no way to reach them unless you go out and find them. Want to do some research in old newspapers? What teenagers today know how to use library microfilm or card catalogues?

On top of all those tech changes, you still have all the jokes from the movie. Who ever heard of a black President? Arnold Schwarzenegger the action movie star was the governor of California? Can I get an energy drink in this place?
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:16 AM
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Alot of us around age 20 in 1985 had grown up watching "Happy Days" which was based on the 50's so we knew alot about that era.

And the 50's, its never explored but it would suck to be black since in reality, if McFly had been black he might not have been allowed into that 1950's restaurant.
What's funny is Happy Days was created as 1950s nostalgia but today it feels more like 1970s nostalgia. The 50s-ish of it really disappeared after the first couple seasons.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:54 AM
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That doesn't fit. People in 1985 were nostalgic for 1955 because they had lived through it and thought of it as a better time. There was also, as you say, nostalgia on the part of those who had *not* lived through it. But according to your argument, someone who had been around in 1955 would have experienced "incremental, daily change from 1955 to the present." That wasn't the case; people felt (and still feel) there was a big gap between those two periods.

I personally do *not* feel a big gap between 1985 and 2015. I'm sure there are some people who look back on 1985 with the level of nostalgia people feel for the 50s and early 60s, but I haven't met them.
I'm guessing you never go on Buzzfeed or Pinterest. Or Tumblr. Or really half of the websites on the internet it seems. There's huge nostalgia for the 80s online. I don't know if anyone genuinely wants to go back and live in the 80s, I think most people would prefer to live in their own time, but people definitely miss certain things from back then.

Nostalgia today is different than it used to be, because you can revel in it so much more. People today nostalgic about the 80s can watch the old movies and cartoons easily online, and easily order the kitchy merchandise of the time, and find old-school outfits and wear them to 80s themed parties.

You can google 80s theme party and find millions of hits, with suggestions of what to do and buy, and pictures of the 80s theme parties people have had. And it's not just adults having these parties, it's college kids who don't remember the 80s.

There are also cultural changes from between 1985 and today, especially with views on gay people. Also there's a larger number or minorities and bi-racial people today. And the drug war is seen differently today, though I don't know if Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign was really going in 1985. I don't know if the differences between now and 1985 are greater than 1985 and 1955, but there are substantial changes.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:23 AM
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1. There is not nostalgia for the 80s in the same way there was and still is nostalgia for the 1950s and early 1960s..
Do you really want to defend that assertion on a message board where members right this very minute are debating the Bangles vs. the Go-Go's?
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:14 AM
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I know one thing. These movies promised me that the Cubbies would win the World Series in 2015. I'm patiently waiting for the season to start and that promise to be fulfilled.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:23 AM
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Much of the nostalgia about the 50's involved a longing for a bygone way of life. Obviously, much of the population felt differently about that fairy tale. The upheavals of the 60's are the fulcrum, and there isn't an equivalent period between 1985 and 2015. Sure, people are sentimental about their lives in the 80's, but I've never heard anyone say life was so much better then.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:24 AM
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I know one thing. These movies promised me that the Cubbies would win the World Series in 2015. I'm patiently waiting for the season to start and that promise to be fulfilled.
Jaws 19 was also promised. Don't hold your breath.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:37 AM
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Nostalgia for the 1980s right now is huge and I'm loving every minute of it. Hell, BtfF II was making fun of the 80s and it was released in 1989.

The movie itself, which I recently watched all the way through for the first time in a long while, is incredibly tight and clean as a story. The clocks and gadgets in Doc's house and Marty's opening characterization, it's all wonderfully efficient. And some really great camerawork. The time travel implications are not overly complicated, just a means to the story, not the story itself.

As far as the biggest 20-year disparity, you could definitely highlight huge differences from 2015 and 1985 in a movie. The Internet didn't exist in any real sense*, video games are now 3D immersive experiences and the NES had just gotten onto American toy shelves, contemporary hip-hop driven by black musical artists compared to the early underground nature of rap, the always hilarious 80s cell phones.

In fact, just send 2015 Marty back with Siri and have her freak out, then save the day when she finally gets connected to an acoustic coupler to UseNet. (I know real modems were around, but they wouldn't look so obviously old on screen.)

*: Yes, I know. Shut up.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:40 AM
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1. There is not nostalgia for the 80s in the same way there was and still is nostalgia for the 1950s and early 1960s.
Ready Player One....
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Old 03-30-2015, 02:16 PM
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As far as the biggest 20-year disparity, you could definitely highlight huge differences from 2015 and 1985 in a movie. The Internet didn't exist in any real sense*, video games are now 3D immersive experiences and the NES had just gotten onto American toy shelves, contemporary hip-hop driven by black musical artists compared to the early underground nature of rap, the always hilarious 80s cell phones.
On the other hand, it would be fun to show them Minecraft, and have them go "30years, and all we have is 3-D Intellivision?"
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:25 PM
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Much of the nostalgia about the 50's involved a longing for a bygone way of life. Obviously, much of the population felt differently about that fairy tale. The upheavals of the 60's are the fulcrum, and there isn't an equivalent period between 1985 and 2015. Sure, people are sentimental about their lives in the 80's, but I've never heard anyone say life was so much better then.
This. I said in the OP that 80s nostalgia is centered around pop culture, not for "a better world" or "a better country" or anything like that.

The 80s absolutely had distinctive, memorable pop culture, a lot of it good, a lot of it bad but still kitschy fun. It was before Big Irony struck in the 90s, so most of it is earnest in a way that's hard to do today. It was also the last decade IMHO to have truly distinctive clothing and hair styles (I'd throw the early 90s in with 80s style).

Also, the differences in tech changes in the two periods are debatable, but BttF is *not* about tech changes. It's about social and aesthetic changes.
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:44 PM
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Much of the nostalgia about the 50's involved a longing for a bygone way of life. Obviously, much of the population felt differently about that fairy tale. The upheavals of the 60's are the fulcrum, and there isn't an equivalent period between 1985 and 2015. Sure, people are sentimental about their lives in the 80's, but I've never heard anyone say life was so much better then.
Huh. The way some Young Republicans fantasize about Saint Ronnie, He Who Brought Down the Evil Empire (tm), I'm not so sure. Mind you, they gloss over AIDS, rampant homelessness, drug war fascism, Iran-Contra, HUD, downsizing-for-profit and other side effects of the go-fer-it-Bud plutocracy of the Gimme Decade...
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Old 03-30-2015, 05:55 PM
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Put it this way, as someone born in 1980, I don't hear anyone from my age bracket (mid 30s) talking about a return to the 1950s. Maybe in some really conservative areas this may occur, but the vast majority of people in their 30s and 20s today don't want to go back to an era pre-sexual revolution, pre-Civil Rights Era.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:05 PM
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I suspect a teenager now could (or maybe should) be more informed about 30 years ago than the standard teen in 1985 might have been about 30 years previous to that. It's the age of ubiquitous information. Kids with an interest can look up '80s music, shows, movies etc. easier than anyone who lived through the era was able to and cultural artefacts of the 1950s would have been much harder to access in the 1980s. Of course if they landed in 1985 sans smart phone and prior interest in the '80s they might be S out of L. Remember too that when most half-informed people nowadays see a movie from the '30s there are some things that seems strange but it is not as if we can't discern telephones, motorcars, radios, and buses and trains. I don't think we've quite got to the stage where a modern teenager doesn't know what a newspaper is, even if they've never bothered trying to read one.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:09 PM
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Huh. The way some Young Republicans fantasize about Saint Ronnie, He Who Brought Down the Evil Empire (tm), I'm not so sure. Mind you, they gloss over AIDS, rampant homelessness, drug war fascism, Iran-Contra, HUD, downsizing-for-profit and other side effects of the go-fer-it-Bud plutocracy of the Gimme Decade...
I don't think such people want to go back to 1981 and "Morning in America." Rather, they just idolize Reagan as a leader.
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Old 03-30-2015, 07:19 PM
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Put it this way, as someone born in 1980, I don't hear anyone from my age bracket (mid 30s) talking about a return to the 1950s. Maybe in some really conservative areas this may occur, but the vast majority of people in their 30s and 20s today don't want to go back to an era pre-sexual revolution, pre-Civil Rights Era.
I think the factors involved in nostalgia for the 1950s in the 1970s and 1980s was based on people perceiving life in the US as getting coarser and worse. You can see this clearly in BttF, in which the town square, mall, and high school are shown as being run down in 1985 but neat as a pin in 1955 (well, the mall is farmland). Marty comments about the high school, "They cleaned the place up." Crime did indeed get worse during that period, and a lot of urban areas languished. Further, it easier to get a job and live a simple life in 1955 than in 1985 (arguably). I myself saw the later 80s and early 90s as a kind of wrong turn compared to the 70s, which I had experienced. My nostalgia lost its force when good new things like the Internet came along.

But nostalgia for that time period isn't dead. Look at Mad Men, for example, which set off an early 60s fashion tidal wave. Although MM takes pains of course to show what was shitty about the period as well.

It was a time when America was proud and prosperous, political acrimony was much less, crime was low, belief in the purpose and direction of the country in the world was more solid, and life was much, much simpler than it is today. I think if you had a good job in NYC, for example, in the early 60s, you could have a pretty heavenly time. I for one would love to see "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" on Broadway in 1961.

Last edited by Aeschines; 03-30-2015 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:53 PM
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Pros:

[...]

3. The movie delivers the time travel experience as few have ever done (one that equals it, IMO, is "Peggy Sue Got Married," which came out one year later).
Dan Shive did my response to this much better than I could.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:33 PM
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Put it this way, as someone born in 1980, I don't hear anyone from my age bracket (mid 30s) talking about a return to the 1950s. Maybe in some really conservative areas this may occur, but the vast majority of people in their 30s and 20s today don't want to go back to an era pre-sexual revolution, pre-Civil Rights Era.
Nostalgia is pining for something within your own experience. People your age would be longing for the good old days of a booming economy, white house blowjobs and dial-up modems.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:54 PM
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True, it doesn't really make sense. I object to any time travel story in which doing something *big* can eff up the future but doing something small *cannot*.

But, oh well, still a good movie!
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:59 PM
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That, I agree with.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:17 AM
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Remember too that when most half-informed people nowadays see a movie from the '30s there are some things that seems strange but it is not as if we can't discern telephones, motorcars, radios, and buses and trains. I don't think we've quite got to the stage where a modern teenager doesn't know what a newspaper is, even if they've never bothered trying to read one.
If I time traveled to the 1930s, I would recognize all of those things, but I wouldn't know how to pay for a trolley fare or get on the proper train or bus. I could probably figure out the old radio (likely AM only) because I've played with them before. I almost certainly couldn't make a pay phone call without looking like a fool. Do I crank the handle first or pay first? Don't get me started on the whole POP-lar 9-2574 stuff. Or do I just ask Sarah to connect me to Doc Brown's house?

And although I think a teen could read a newspaper, I doubt most would think to pick one out of the trashcan to check the current date. Many would also realize that 1985 was before cell phones, but they have a cell phone so they would think it should work and wouldn't understand that there are no digital towers to allow theirs to work.
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Old 03-31-2015, 04:53 AM
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And although I think a teen could read a newspaper, I doubt most would think to pick one out of the trashcan to check the current date. Many would also realize that 1985 was before cell phones, but they have a cell phone so they would think it should work and wouldn't understand that there are no digital towers to allow theirs to work.
You have a strange idea of teenagers I think.

You think teenagers don't know how cell phones work? You think they don't see their phone constantly picking up different wi-fi signals and still don't know how signals work? A teenager would immediately know why their phone isn't working, and if they wanted to know the date they would of course pick up a newspaper, its crazy to think otherwise.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:26 AM
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I don't think the fun of McFly going back from 1985 to 1955 is really based on technological change. It's based on social and aesthetic change.
There's a wonderful little (2 or 3 seconds) glimpse of the social change : the camera makes a quick pan around a gas station, where a car pulls into the station and 4 uniformed employees run up to pump the gas,check the oil, wash the windshield, and check the tires.
To me, that scene defines the nostalgia for the 1950's.

And of course, the opposite: the scene with the black guy who wants to be mayor being told to sweep the floor--defines why nobody really wants to go back there.
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:50 AM
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I have to say - 1985 was not before cell phones. Basic cell phone tech goes back to 1973, but even in the 80s you could get the Brick. Plus cellular car phones were somewhat common.

But of course they weren't up to modern standards. They were analog, and even in 1987 not always small. Yes, the thing in his left hand is the phone and battery!
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Old 03-31-2015, 02:36 PM
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But nostalgia for that time period isn't dead. Look at Mad Men, for example, which set off an early 60s fashion tidal wave. Although MM takes pains of course to show what was shitty about the period as well.
But neither is it for the 1980s. Look at The Goldbergs, The Americans, etc. I think claiming that there isn't nostalgia for the 1980s aside from "pop culture" misses a lot.

Even in Mad Men the nostalgia is more about look at how these people dressed (the constant drinking isn't necessarily shown in a good light, but the smoking may be) - which is more 'pop culture' than a 'way of life'. And of course, people are really excited for the changes in society in the 1960s.

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It was a time when America was proud and prosperous, political acrimony was much less, crime was low, belief in the purpose and direction of the country in the world was more solid, and life was much, much simpler than it is today
You mean like some folks look at Reagan's America in 1988? Note, it wasn't just about idolizing Reagan as a leader, anymore than looking back at the early 1960s were about idolizing JFK as a leader.
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Old 03-31-2015, 03:53 PM
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Quoth Aeschines:

This is laughably wrong, but the person believes that the technological Singularity is coming soon, so... But the interesting question is, "Why is it wrong?" I think there are two reasons:
That's not quite the reason why the 80s are so different today, but it's close: The 80s are fundamentally different from today because the Singularity has already come, just like it's always coming in every generation. Every year is vastly different from the year three decades previous because, in every case, the Singularity has come in the meanwhile. It's really a horizon, not a singularity: The viewer is always the same distance from it, but relative to a fixed point in history, it's trivial to cross it.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:20 PM
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What's funny is Happy Days was created as 1950s nostalgia but today it feels more like 1970s nostalgia. The 50s-ish of it really disappeared after the first couple seasons.
Just as MASH was about Korea, but it was always really about Vietnam.
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Old 03-31-2015, 05:46 PM
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I wish they hadn't included the sexual assault scene with Lea Thompson. That was a bit too serious for a comedy.

Otherwise the movie holds up really well.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:24 PM
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Huh. The way some Young Republicans fantasize about Saint Ronnie, He Who Brought Down the Evil Empire (tm), I'm not so sure. Mind you, they gloss over AIDS, rampant homelessness, drug war fascism, Iran-Contra, HUD, downsizing-for-profit and other side effects of the go-fer-it-Bud plutocracy of the Gimme Decade...
30 posts in before a left winger jumps in with his intolerant hate speech.

Now tell us about the massive debts, 48 million people on food stamps, Russian aggression, declining middle class incomes, failure to prosecute bank criminal, demonizing dissent as racism and fascism, using the IRS to harass political opponents, 2.5 million homeless children, public unions bankrupting states and cities and shredding of thousands of emails over the last 6 years by the moron who doesn't know how many states there are.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:29 PM
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30 posts in before a left winger jumps in with his intolerant hate speech.

Now tell us about the massive debts, 48 million people on food stamps, Russian aggression, declining middle class incomes, failure to prosecute bank criminal, demonizing dissent as racism and fascism, using the IRS to harass political opponents, 2.5 million homeless children, public unions bankrupting states and cities and shredding of thousands of emails over the last 6 years by the moron who doesn't know how many states there are.
Reagan lost emails?!
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Old 03-31-2015, 11:52 PM
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I guess thirty years changes the definition of "hate speech."
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:17 AM
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It's always bugged me that the diner owner didn't get pissed when Marty, looking for Doc, ripped the page out of the phone book. Ok, it's a small thing, but it wouldn't have been tolerated back then, imho.
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