Saturday, March 24, 2012

Soapbox Speeches: Back to the Future

Have you ever heard a crazy idea? You probably just dismissed it as being crazy, right? But then have you ever heard that same crazy idea again? And this time coming from a different source?

It's easy to dismiss a crazy idea the first time, but after you keep hearing it again and again, it starts to seem like that crazy idea is catching on.

The crazy idea that I've come here to rant against today is the insane theory that the movie Back to the Future is racist because it takes the invention of Rock & Roll away from the legendary Chuck Berry and gives it to a white kid instead. They say that it rewrites history to give a white man credit for a black man's creation.

I shouldn't have to say it, but that theory is ridiculous. It's an absolutely ridiculous thing to say for a variety of reasons. While any normal person would just write it off as the thoughts of insane individuals, I feel that I must dust off my nerd helm and explain WHY it is an illegitimate claim. So if you ever find yourself face-to-face with some dillweed who's spewing this nonsense in an attempt to sound intelligent, you can quickly point out that they are, in fact, an idiot.

Let's get started, shall we?

In the realm of Sci-Fi, time travel stories generally operate under one of two different theories of Time: I'll refer to these as Line Theory and Ball Theory.

Line Theory says that Time is a linear progression of events. Which is to say that A causes B, B then causes C, and so on.

For example, let's say you've just built a time machine! Impressive. Your first order of business is to go back in time and see a dinosaur! A worthy goal. But OH NO! When you're returning to your machine after seeing that dinosaur you accidentally step on a bug! Well, no matter. I mean, what difference could a bug make? Well, you're wrong! It makes a world of difference! And when you return to your home time you find everything is different! Everyone is now Amish and they ride giant ducks instead of horses or some shit!

That's Line Theory. It says that if you go back and edit A then you end up editing every point that comes afterward. Editing A means ending up with a slightly different B, which then creates a variant of C, and so on. The differences snowball over time until things have changed completely. Examples of stories that use this method: "A Sound of Thunder", The Butterfly Effect, Primer, and Back to the Future.

Ball Theory on the other hand says that Time isn't a linear chain of events. It says that A, B, and C are a single mass of Time. As if you condensed every moment in time into a single ball. And the reason we think it's actually a linear line is just because that line is the route we are moving through the ball of time. Obviously this theory is a little bit harder to wrap your brain around.

Here, let's let infamous time traveler Doctor Who explain it:

So under this theory, if you build that time machine of yours again, go back in time to see a dinosaur, step on that bug, and then return to your home time...nothing will be different. Nothing will be different, because everything has already happened/ is happening / will happen. Each moment exists on its own and in that particular are stepping on that bug. The point in Time you currently find yourself in is irrelevant. You have/You will always be stepping on that bug at that point in Time.

In a story it usually works like this: I live in time C, I go back to time A, I dink around, I then realize how my actions in A will eventually lead to the world I'm used to in C. Examples of stories that use this method include: The Time Traveler's Wife, Terminator, Doctor Who (usually), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

As I said earlier, Back to the Future operates under Line Theory. How can we be sure of this? We can be sure of this because throughout the films we continue to see Marty McFly's actions in the past creating huge changes to his present. Thus, under the rules of Line Theory, the Rock & Roll chain would go like this:

Chuck Berry invents Rock&Roll
--> Marty McFly is inspired by Berry's creation
----> Marty goes back in time and plays Chuck's music
------> Young Chuck Berry hears Marty's cover song
--------> and Young Chuck gets the idea to invent Rock & Roll

The insane racism idea is claiming that this means Marty is the creator of Rock&Roll. When in reality the actual chain of events is this: Chuck -> Marty -> Chuck.

Thus Chuck Prime is the creator, because it is he who influenced an agent to influence Chuck 2.0.

The only way these people's crackpot theory holds water is if the movie had been working under Ball Theory. Because under Ball Theory the chain would have been: Marty -> Chuck -> Marty.

But that isn't possible, because under Ball Theory the movie's entire plot would fall apart! Under Ball Theory Marty would never have had to worry about erasing his own existence, because he never would have been able to change his Mom & Dad's first meeting.


So there you go. Suck on that logic, dillweeds.

1 comment:

  1. Jess - this made me laugh a lot. Keep spread the wisdom, man. Fight the ignorance!