When I opened my browser yesterday morning I found myself bombarded with numerous references, memes, gifs, photos, commercials, etc., … all because today was Back to the Future Day. A made up holiday to celebrate the day when the film’s fictional characters Marty McFly and Doc go to the future in Back to the Future II. In the film the future date they travel to is October 21, 2015. Yesterday for us. Just another day for most of us.
But something didn’t feel right. Something felt manufactured. It felt forced. As if everyone was jumping on the cool factor of Back to the Future. Where was all the passion before? Was it all being saved up because of this made-up holiday where I still had to go to work? Or was it yet another way for the corporations to market and manipulate an already all to willing populace?
What is Back to the Future and why does it deserve a day?
If you were born in the eighties and early nineties in the United States, then you’ve probably seen this movie at some point or another. Be it in the movies theatre or be it on TV; or maybe you rented it the DVD, or VHS. If you weren’t living in the United States around the eighties or nineties then there is a high chance you haven’t seen the film at all. Seeing how this film is a now considered a must-see classic — I highly recommend you see it. You will thank me later. Should you not like the film after viewing (you must not fall asleep while watching Back to the Future), then we have nothing else to discuss. Move along now. Move along.
Adam Clark Estes from Gizmodo was feeling the same way as me. He immediately noticed corporations capitalizing on a day for a commercial film which people like myself feel an emotional connection. And why wouldn’t advertisers try to evoke this passionate reaction? Steve Jobs was famous for arguing it was better to try to create an emotional response to something Apple sold to its customers rather than focusing on the utility of a computer, smartphone, or portable music player.
In Estes’ article, he impolitely puts his middle finger at tweets from JetBlue, Olive Garden, and Charmin for trying to do what now makes logical sense in today’s world of marketing. However, Estes point was that it this was too forced. Instead of creating a positive emotional response it instead suggested a negative one. I cannot speak for all person, but for people like me and Estes, we just weren’t happy with this.
“Fuck the litany of senseless tweets from companies trying to capitalize on the movie reference. Fuck the companies like Pepsi and Nike who are miraculously still squeezing relevance out of their product placements, decades after the film’s release.Fuck the marketers trying to trick you into thinking you can buy a functional hoverboard. Fuck the PR people who’ve sent a million pitches in a half-hearted attempt at using Back to the Future Day as a peg for their client’s own shitty products. And for good measure, fuck the bloggers who are all writing the ‘What Back to the Future II Got Right About 2015’ post and dropping SEO-pandering tags like “World Series” into their code. Fuck all that noise.” — Adam Estes of Gizmodo
Yet from this fake holiday good things can come our way. For instance, Nike is finally making self-tying shoes. The same ones Marty McFly wears in Back to the Future II. The question is how much will they actually cost and will the actually work? The other good news? The proceeds made from this Back to the Future shoe will go toward Michael J. Fox’s, the actor who portrayed Marty McFly, Parkinson’s Disease foundation. That’s a good thing. I am sure most people know that Fox has been living with Parkinson’s disease since 1991. Though, he did not come public with the disease until 1998, when he was no longer able to hide the symptoms.
Even I was tickled by a commercial from Toyota which reunited Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd discussing things which came true and didn’t come true in the Back to the Future II’s for 2015. Remember, the film was released in the 1980s. It’s amazing to see how advertising has changed in my life time. This commercial was from Toyota, but at no point were the two actors in the a Toyota. Or near one. They were in a diner discussing fax machines. But, Toyota.
I’m still not sure why I felt uncomfortable with all the Back to the Future nonsense from yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a huge fan of the trilogy since I saw them as a child of the eighties. I convinced my father to get me the trilogy on VHS, which had an extra VHS tape about the making of the Back to the Future trilogy. Hosted by Kirk Cameron. This was before he was super religious.
I love Back to the Future. I will always love Back to the Future. Maybe I felt left out? I think I was going through a small amount of shock. If I had known there was this much love for Back to the Future then maybe I would have been more vocal about it. Maybe.
Oh well, Happy belated Back to the Future Day!
Originally published at jordanaubryrobison.squarespace.com on October 22, 2015.