I sat through year 10 English, so I’m pretty damn good at finding the hidden meaning in a film. X-Men is all about civil rights and social equality, District 9 teaches us a lesson on the Apartheid horrors of forced segregation while Finding Nemo is obviously a piece of pro-Nazi propaganda.
When it comes to my favourite films though I don’t want to be reading between the lines, I want to sit back and just soak up the nostalgia, go back to a time when getting up early for Cheese TV was my priority, not paying rent and dealing with crushing anxiety. With that said I was never happier than watching the Back to The Future franchise. If someone says sequels are never better than originals you should slam a copy of Back to the Future Two into their existence then cut them from your life just as quickly. My euphoric reaction to those movies extends further than the screen to the point I wear a Back to the Future tattoo with pride. With all that in mind, imagine my confusion when, in the year 2016, I realised my favourite film, Back to the Future II, isn’t simply a film after all, it carries a stark warning to us all.
So what is its message – perhaps be wary of a future with President Donald Trump? Let’s break that theory down. Maybe we’re all the wide eyed, fresh faced Marty Mcfly, we might all be facing a world run by our very own Biff Tannen and in a few shorts months could see just what type of global Hill Valley we’ll be living in.
Now I can’t take all the credit for this revolutionary comparison (as much as I’d like to) as a recent interview with Back to The Future screen writer Bob Gale revealed the inspiration for Biff Tannen really WAS the irrepressible Buffoon of a Tycoon, Mr Trump himself. But his overt caricature of a creation was just for entertainment, whereas we find ourselves now with a very real and very orange tinted window into the very near future. We’d be yuge, yuge fools to not at least take a peek and see what a Biff Tannen inspired future might be like in Sydney.
If the film is anything to go by it’s a world where regular bars have been shut down and only the brothels and strip clubs of the city have escaped the iron fist of Biff’s nanny state. These X-rated options leave no choice for the average punter but to pick up and leave, creating a city without a soul. Sound familiar? Perhaps a little like Mike Baird’s Sydney? Let’s try another scenario.
In this film’s reality, gambling is rife. The 28 story ‘Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino and Hotel’ dominates the skyline and a city where the love of money, and the sound of Poker machines spinning away, has ruined families and taken over the lives of far too many. Pull me up if I’m covering the same old tracks, but now that sounds a lot like the burgeoning Casino Empire of Sydney’s very own James Packer.
Somehow I’ve gone askew. Like Marty and Doc I find myself in a time I don’t understand and don’t like. What was once a satirical reflection on the hypothetical chaos of a Donald Trump led world has now become a vision of clarity on the limp and revolting reality of this once great harbour city.
We don’t need to find parables in pop fiction to see what’s happened. It seems Back to the Future II didn’t predict a hilarious Donald Trump skewed reality of the future so much as it reflected on the sad state of current affairs in our very own backyard. A city that sold its soul to big business and corporate greed. As the American election looms it’s dangerously easy to get caught up in the power one man may have to change the world, and be completely blind to the fact our world has already changed around us.
We don’t have the luxury of a time traveling Delorean, so if you don’t like your reality, whether it’s the state of Sydney or something closer to your heart, go out and make your voice heard. As Doc Brown so poetically said “Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one."
I for one will be campaigning for increased Hoverboard research funding.
Alexander Porter is a 27 year old with a degree from Sydney University. Getting it in a frame is on his 30 before Thirty list. He has a Back to the Future tattoo and is available for party hire. When Alex isn't writing he is watching his beloved St George Dragons let him down, drinking flavoured milk and planning new travel adventures. You can follow him on instagram @alexander_le_great