Thursday, October 22, 2015

My odd relationship with Back to the Future

Back to the Future has been either my #2 or #3 movie of all time since I officially re-did my Flickchart rankings a couple years back. It was #3 when I had Raiders of the Lost Ark listed as my #1 movie, but it jumped up to #2 when I dropped Raiders down to #3.

Yet any discussion of 2015 being the year Marty McFly traveled into the future has been met by me with a colossal shrug of indifference. (Can something so indifferent truly be described as "colossal"?) Back to the Future Day -- today in the U.S., yesterday in Australia -- seems as good a time as any to try and dig into that.

If I love Back to the Future as much as I do, I should be all over the arrival of October 21st, 2015, which is the date when Marty and Doc arrive in their flying Delorean and ride their hovering skateboards. Yet it passed without me even noticing it yesterday, in part because that was my birthday in the U.S. and I had to spend my available internet time bushwhacking through a thicket of birthday notifications. (This is not me bragging; it's actually me taking the piss out of myself for feeling the need to individually respond to each birthday greeting.) Also, since I have a lot fewer Facebook friends in Australia than I do in the U.S., it wasn't until my October 22nd that I really saw the flood of geekdom on Facebook.

But now that I've caught up, I'm still shrugging a bit.

Part of that I think has to do with the fact that this should really be thought of as Back to the Future II Day, and I'm just not as big of a fan of Back to the Future II as I am of the original Back to the Future. (I'd say "Who is?", but I had a co-worker once tell me he considered all three movies indistinguishable from one another in both content and quality, which is just ludicrous.) And though I did once love the sequel for its perhaps even more ambitious dive into time travel conundrum logic, I now primarily think of its garish 2015 imagery, which has an unpleasantness to it that I can't shake. I haven't sought out Back to the Future II to rewatch since sometime in the early 1990s, and in fact it's possible that I've seen it only once. The arrival of the date that appears in that movie isn't enough to change that.

But even the original Back to the Future is not something I regularly rewatch, even with its lofty spot in my Flickchart rankings. It shares that in common with its neighbor, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I also don't own or regularly rewatch. I rewatched Raiders in 2011, but it's been since 2005 that I watched Back to the Future. That's when I showed it to my wife, then girlfriend, who had never seen it. And that's ten years ago now.

And this gets us to that realization that film fans always have sooner or later: That the movies you consistently rewatch are not necessarily your favorites. In the time since I last watched Back to the Future, I have seen Step Brothers five times. Does that mean I like Step Brothers more than Back to the Future? Of course not. Does it mean that Step Brothers is giving me more in my life right now? Possibly, but not necessarily, especially after my love for that comedy dulled ever so slightly after my most recent viewing last month.

What I really think it is is that Back to the Future entrenched itself so fully into my psyche that I haven't needed to continually revisit it in order to know it intimately, quote it regularly, and feel like it's an ongoing central component to my personality. It's kind of like when I rewatched Star Wars for the first time in 18 years earlier this year. It was like it had only been a day.

Back to the Future and I are good. We may not email every week, every month, or even every year. We may not comment on or even like each other's status updates. I may not know what Back to the Future is up to right at this moment -- well, right at this moment, yes, because everyone's talking about it. But in general, I don't know what's going on in Back to the Future's life right now. Back to the Future might have a new dog or a new job or a new mailing address, for all I know.

But I know Back to the Future, and that's what's important. And I don't need the hoopla about the arrival of some day on the calendar to make me prove it to the world.

So if not this occasion to check back in with BTTF, then when? Who knows. And I kind of like not knowing. It may be when we both least expect it, and that may make the joy of reacquainting myself with it all the more profound.

Not that reacquainting should even be necessary. Back to the Future knows me and I know it and that's all anybody needs to say.

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