Back to Future: Mayor Red = Red the Bum?

I’ll take your word for it that the plot of the movies is well thought out and has consistent time travel logic. But these are a couple of jokes. Winks to the audience basically. Not meant to be taken seriously.

Then why did Marvin Berry say, “You know that new sound you’ve been looking for? Well listen to this!” If Chuck had already released “Maybellene” then surely Marvin would know that. If anything he’d call up Chuck to tell him this guy is ripping off his sound.

I suppose you can fanwank it away with way too much logic. But it’s just a movie and these are supposed to be little jokes, perhaps designed to mess with the audience’s idea of what can happen in time travel.

Wow, I could have sworn Marty called the bum “Brett.” I’ll have to go watch it now.


Just popped in the DVD, and the name is clearly “Brett.”

You’re kind of forgetting about the flux capacitor aren’t you? Doc wouldn’t have invented that if Marty hadn’t gone back in time. It took him the whole time after that to make the first one based on what he had seen in 1955. There’s no way he could have figured it out on his own. Hell! We still don’t know how it works (though I may have come close to creating something similar once).

Once you have that paradox, it doesn’t matter anymore who caused what. Chuck Berry may never have come up with Johnny B. Goode, Goldy may never have been mayor, or Marty’s parents might have met and fallen in love at the dance for some other reason. It’s just the way it is with time travel. A time machine is a paradox anyway, and once you inject one of those into the universe, anything can happen.

Did you happen to check it with captions on? That would be the most official interpretation, I would think. I’ve always been a little iffy on it. I think I hear the “B” sound, but it also sounds like it ends with a “d”; in other worlds, it sounds a bit like he’s saying “bread”, but that doesn’t make sense in context. Of course, he’s playing a guy who has just had a close encounter with a lightning bolt, traveled through time, then smashed into a building, all in the course of a few (subjective) seconds. Garbled or downright incoherent speech would not be unrealistic. I didn’t bring it up because people obviously interpret it differently, and it wasn’t necessary to support my point.

This is a whoosh, right? You know this is utterly wrong and are just spoofing the other argument?

Doc sent Marty back to the day he came up with the idea for the flux capacitor. By the time Marty met him in the past, he already had the idea. Maybe it’s weird that it takes him exactly as long to create it in the alternate timeline given that he’d seen a working prototype, but in both case, he’s still the inventor.

The idea that the bum is actually named Fred or Brett suffers from the same problem as the idea that Fox called him Red, but didn’t mean that Red. There’s no reason for Marty to address the bum at all except to establish the connection in a wink to the audience.

It’s just the “notable bum” trope. Every movie town’s got one and quite a few real towns too.

Right. And there are possible justifications for it taking the same amount of time. It could have been resource limitations–Doc did say that it took almost his entire family fortune; it could be that he had to spread the work out over time to avoid going bankrupt. It could also be that the actual vehicle design wouldn’t work without the extra flux dispersal provided by the stainless steel body of the DeLorean, in which case he couldn’t begin work on the vehicle until 1981 at the earliest. It could be that he deliberately delayed the project to avoid altering Marty’s trip back to 1955.

The simplest explanation, though, would be that even if he finished building it early, he simply had no way to power it until the Libyans provided him with plutonium–a fixed point in time that neither he nor Marty had any way to influence.

Again, this is just an assertion. You have provided no evidence, or even logic, to support it. Let me turn it around: what would it take to convince you it was an ad-lib? If Fox himself popped in to tell you personally, would you call him a liar?

It’s not a whoosh, though somewhat irreverant. I don’t analyze the details of movies to this level. Please explain to me the origin of the flux capacitor.

Fair enough.

Doc’s inspiration for the flux capacitor did not come from seeing the one in the DeLorean. It came to him in a vision while he was unconscious from a blow to the head (he whacked his head on the sink while hanging a clock). He woke up with the concept fully formed, then spent decades realizing it. That incident is actually how Marty originally convinced 1955-Doc that he was from the future–when he arrived at Doc’s house in 1955, he saw the bruise on Doc’s head and was able to relay 1985-Doc’s story about how it happened. Thus, 1955-Doc already had the concept of the flux capacitor before he met Marty or saw the one in the DeLorean; in fact, he had already drawn a rough sketch of it, if I recall correctly.

This is also why Marty went back to that particular date; 1985-Doc had punched it into the controller while telling Marty the story, and it was still there when Marty accidentally engaged the time circuits.

Thank you. That refreshed my memory, I remember enough of that for it to make sense.

So perhaps the Chuck Berry thing is the paradox that makes time travel possible. I guess it doesn’t have to be the time machine itself. And you’ve given me an idea. Maybe a blow to the head will help me figure out how to get that machine to work right.

Make sure you’re thinking about a clock when you try it. That could be an important element. :smiley:

Could I add one more conundrum to this thread?

In BTTF 2, Doc and Marty arrive in 2015. It’s raining. Doc looks at his watch and says, “Wait 3 seconds.” The rain stops. Doc says:

“Right on the tick. If only the post office was as efficient as the weather service!”

Does he mean that the weather service predicted the rain would stop, or did they make it stop?

There was another debate about this on Ask Metafilter, and things got pretty heated.

My personal vote is for “predict,” since it doesn’t make sense to me that we’d have an agency that makes it rain in the middle of the day. We’re getting better and better at weather forecasting, though, so the logical conclusion would be that meteorologists will eventually be able to predict the exact moment when the rain stops and starts.

What do you think?

Been there, beat that to death. As you should probably know, since you posted extensively in that thread. I’m not going to argue it again; my position has not changed.

I’m sorry to hear that. Your 3,000-word posts will be missed.

Ah, but I linked to them, therefore they are included by reference. You can’t escape them that easily. :smiley:

Are you sure that you aren’t thinking of It’s a Wonderful Life?

Out of curiosity I just checked the Wikipedia entry for the song, which says that while the “Johnny B. Goode” single was not released until 1958 the song was first written in…1955. It’s amusing to think that in the original timeline Berry wrote the song in 1958 and in the one altered by Marty (which is also the one in which we all exist) he started work on it immediately after the phone call from his cousin but for whatever reason didn’t release it until several years later.

Although really I’m not sure whether to trust Wikipedia on this, as it seems plausible to me that a BTTF fan inserted the claim that the song was written in 1955!

Oww! Damnit! Couldn’t you have mentioned that before? Oh well, my head already hurts, so I’ll try again.