Back For The Tannens

The thing about movies involving time travel is that you often have to watch them a few times before you have a good grasp on them. Back To The Future is a trilogy that I've seen many times over the past quarter century. The internet now dedicates and shares insights into everything from the popular to the obscure. This article is no different. It's pretty far out there, I'm just telling you right now.

I have been feeling a growing uneasiness concerning how Marty affects the timeline. He prevents three separate generations of Tannens from asserting their position in the community. We hate Bigg, Griff and Mad Dog, so we applaud the temporal tragedy that they are subjected to. But if we take Doc Brown's warning about affecting the timeline seriously, what transpires is an utter disaster for the Tannen family.

The Cool Kid

Back To The Future was released when I was eight years old. There shouldn't be any wonder why I like Marty McFly. I was also a fan of Michael J. Fox's other characters like Teen Wolf and Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. More than anything, Marty was cool.  

Biff Tannen was pretty much the opposite of Marty. He was intentionally mean. He was a womanizer. He lied continually. But Biff was also a born leader, rarely seen without an obedient entourage. Biff is confident. Biff is very ambitious and takes full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves in life. Like Biff, Mad Dog led a posse and Griff had a gang. All Tannens were naturally able to convince others to do their bidding. 

The Infinitely Successful Biff Tannen is often compared to Donald Trump 

Doubleback Again

You've certainly heard the old dilemma of traveling back in time to kill Hitler. As much as you'd like to do so, it is more complicated than eliminating one individual because of the impact that would have on everything. Now imagine that instead of killing Hitler, you prevent a cruel and abusive family from becoming wealthy and powerful. Although this may improve the lives of many people, it could still have negative unforseen consequences.

Making The Future

When Biff had the opportunity to make his future using the Sports Almanac, he took full advantage of the information in it. At the points in the timeline where Marty does not interfere with him, he actually does fairly well for himself. So do his relatives. I'm not saying that I feel bad for Biff. He's just a terrible person. But there are temporal forces outside of his control.

"Your future is what you make it, so make it a good one."

Because of his experience in 1955, Doc knows the following: he builds a time machine, travels to 1885, gets shot in the parking lot, falls in love with a woman named Clara. He also befriends a teenage boy and gains his trust, knowing that he will intentionally send him back to 1955. 

A World Without Your Enemy

Picture two great warring families. Capulet and Montague. Atreides and Harkonnen. Picture two possible family empires that span hundreds of generations across time, all pivoting on a few key moments in the lives of their patriarchs. 

One fact becomes clear in the first movie, and this theme continues throughout the trilogy: Doc Brown not only has prescient knowledge but actually creates the circumstances for all events. He guides Marty's experience, discouraging him from the easy path with the almanac and presumably preparing him to become a rock star and live his dream life. The McFly family lives up to their potential and the Tannens do not.

What Doc Brown gives Marty is a world without House Tannen, sworn blood enemy of House McFly.