Today, we go after the swings and misses in "Back to the Future Part II"... the things that movie predicted for 2015 and got completely wrong.
Now, granted, 2015 is six-and-a-half years away, so, in a way, I'm also engaging in future speculation by writing this list today. But I feel like it's OK... at this point, in 2009, I think it's pretty clear what, basically, we will and won't have in 2015. So here we go...
Hoverboards. Of everything from "BBTF Part II" that we're not gonna have in 2015, this is definitely the biggest disappointment. We don't have hoverboards now, and we're not going to have them in a few years. Technology just isn't there yet.
According to Hovertech, an R&D company that focuses on developing hovering products, without either an engine or a track, there's no way to currently make "BTTF Part II"-style hoverboards.
It's a shame. I work for Break.com and, I can assure you, today's kids have already figured out every possible way to injure themselves (and their genitals) with traditional skateboards. Hoverboards really could've expanded their horizons.
Queen Diana. In the "USA Today", there are two mentions of Queen Diana.
If you're thinking, "Hey, guy, come on. Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. There's no way 'Back to the Future Part II' could've seen that coming." That's fine. I'm not faulting them for that.
I'm faulting them because, clearly, Queen Elizabeth is going to be alive and getting her royalty on in 2015. Even if Diana hadn't been killed, she never had a shot at queen. Elizabeth is going to outlive us all. She'll only be 89 in 2015. She's got at least another 35 to 50 years of queendom left in her after that.
Phone booths. The other day I was coming out of the 7-Eleven by my office and a dirty, scruffy fellow approached me and asked me for 50 cents "to make a phone call." While he said that, he gestured at a nearby pay phone, where a different dirty, scruffy fellow was making a call.
That's not a particularly funny anecdote... in fact, it may be the least funny anecdote I've ever shared; I bring it up only because it stands out so much in this day and age to see a payphone, let alone see someone using one.
"Back to the Future Part II" did not see the cell phone explosion coming. Between Marty Jr. going to a payphone (as seen in the image I grabbed below) or the reliance of the McFly family on their home phone a few minutes later in the movie, it's clear the people behind the movie had no idea we'd all have our own private, personal phones permanently affixed to our bodies in the future.
Phone booths? All but extinct. It's going to make the future very difficult for Superman and, to a lesser extent, very difficult for the disembodied voice of Kiefer Sutherland if it ever wants to torment Colin Farrell again.
Another thing science fiction has always had a hard-on for: Compact food. Whether it's meals in pill form, strange nutrient supplements or, like in this case, food that needs some kind of Dr. Frink-style re-bigulator, there's eternally an inexplicable obsession with tiny food.
As it plays out in "Back to the Future Part II", a tiny Pizza Hut pizza is inserted into the Black and Decker Hydrator, and then, seconds later, is a full-size, steaming hot, half-pepperoni, half-green pepper pizza.
Yeah... that's not happening in real life any time soon. And even if it was available... would you really want this? We're starting to realize that eating food that's jammed with chemicals might not be the smartest long term decision... how many unnatural elements would be involved in making a two-inch diameter pizza one hydration session away from edible?
Thumbprint currency and keys. It's an intriguing idea -- in the future, Biff pays for a cab by just pressing his thumb onto a machine, and the police get young Jennifer into her (future) house using a thumbprint instead of a key.
Of course, for this to be a reality, we'd all need to register our thumbprints into some grand (probably government-controlled) thumbprint database... the mere mention of which would make the ACLU's lawyers and Rush Limbaugh's writers unite in protest.
And as intriguing as body embedded RFID chips are, we're not six-and-a-half years away from them replacing currency... and keys. Thumbprint-activated doors remain for Max Smart only.
Laserdiscs. When Marty and Doc temporarily dump Jennifer's body in an alley (on the list of deux ex machinas in "Back to the Future Part II"... of which there are a shitload... this remains toward the top of the list by the way), they dump her on top of some crates of laserdiscs.
It's not entirely apparent whether these are laserdiscs being thrown away or whether these are laserdiscs that were shipped to be sold. What is clear: They're laserdiscs, with a few CDs thrown in.
Removable media is rapidly vanishing... and by 2015, could be damn near obsolete, with any movie you'd want to see being streamed to you on demand. We're already getting there with TiVo and XBox and the Netflix box. But even if movies are still on removable media in 2015... it ain't gonna be laserdiscs.
The Cubs and the World Series. So everyone knows that, in "Back to the Future Part II", Marty is inspired to buy the sports almanac because he sees that the Cubs won the World Series. And yes, the easy joke here would be for me to say that clearly, by 2015, the Cubs will not have won the World Series.
But I'm not going to go there. I'm going to find a different way to mock hopelessly optimistic Cubs fans.
In the scene where the Cubs victory virtually appears in the middle of the town square, the guy talking to Marty says the Cubs were a "100 to one" shot.
This, folks, was the bad call. Because it's become an annual ritual for Cubs fans to stream to Vegas before the baseball season begins and put down money on the Cubs winning the World Series. And if they don't go themselves, they give a friend some money to put on the Cubs.
I guess if the 100-year pattern of futility gets broken, they want that $10 to turn into something more.
But because so many people bet on them, the Cubs always have unrealistically good odds to win the World Series. More like four-to-one than 100-to-one.
If you want 100-to-one, you're going to have to bet on a team with no shot AND no rabid fan following, like the Nationals. Or the Miami Gators.
People working out while they eat. When Marty's in Cafe '80s, there are people eating while simultaneously exercising. The '80s may've been an era where people were about exercise... but from 2000 on, Americans sit down to eat, Americans sit down and EAT.
In fact, the "Back to the Future Part II" version of 2015 really doesn't have ANY obese people. Huge misstep there.
The newspaper industry. To the credit of "Back to the Future Part II", at the top of the "USA Today" it says "Via Compu-Fax Satellite."
So they got that we wouldn't have our news delivered in the same way as we did in the '80s... but they still saw us reading newspapers (just ones that weren't delivered by a kid on a bicycle who wastes a ton of papers throwing them at tombstones, dogs, the Grim Reaper and non-customers' windows).
But... with the direction of the newspaper industry (crumbling) and people becoming more and more and more inclined to getting their news from other sources... odds are, in 2015, you won't learn about Griff's gang smashing into a courthouse from the following day's newspaper. It's a little hard to see but the "compu-fax satellite" thing is in the upper left.
Clothing. So, yeah. We're not six-and-a-half years away from wearing outfits that make it look like we were dressed by blind neon salesmen.
Also, our clothes won't dry themselves, our jackets won't auto-shrink their sleeves to fit us and our shoes won't tie themselves.
Will truly classy businessmen be wearing double ties? Jury's still out.
Flying cars everywhere. There are flying cars today (or, at least, prototypes). A few years back Neiman Marcus even sold a flying car in their Christmas catalog, for $3.5 million.
But... we're not a handful of years away from these things being everywhere. Not even close.
Sadly, in 2015, where we're going, we will need roads.