Monthly Archives: April 2009

Ruining Old Movies Wednesday: back to “Back To The Future”

Keri had never seen Back to the Future before, so on the weekend we sat down and watched it. And much as I love the movie, there’s a lot about it that doesn’t make sense. When I say “doesn’t make sense”, I am fully aware that we’re talking about a movie involving a car that travels back in time. I mean “doesn’t make sense according to the rules the movie has established”.

(Spoiler warning, for people from 1985 who’ve travelled forward to 2009 and haven’t seen the movie yet.)

  • After all Marty’s interference in his parents’ courtship has ceased, and they’re on the dance floor together while he plays, there’s a moment where some red-haired kid pushes George out of the way and it looks, briefly, like he’s not going to end up with Lorraine after all. Marty starts to disappear – not from the head first, like his brother did in the photo (which also didn’t make sense: was there a probability of Marty’s older brother growing to adulthood without a head? Surely he’d either be born or not!), but from the hand… until George grows some balls, takes Lorraine back and kisses her. Suddenly Marty’s fine. But why was he disappearing? He’s the only one altering the timeline from what it should be, and if he doesn’t do anything to influence George’s behaviour, and George does by that point have the balls to push red-haired kid out of the way, then why even the moment of disappearing?

  • And while we’re there, why does the Marvin Berry band ask Marty to play something of his own after he’s just completely buggered up a standard? He fell all over the ground and played random strings that made the singer wince, for god sake.
  • Clearly a DeLorean going at 88mph is only going to contact a wire across the street for a miniscule fraction of a second. Which means calculations would have to be PRECISE precise. How do they know the clock actually stopped at EXACTLY 10.04? It’s shown moving in discrete intervals each minute – so it could have stopped at any time in that minute. I suppose it’s lucky that the DeLorean stalled and buggered up Doc Brown’s erroneous calculations: if it hadn’t, Marty would’ve got there a few seconds earlier and missed the lightning entirely.
  • How does Marty survive running a DeLorean into a shop front at not much less than 88mph? Why is the DeLorean not even dented?
  • Why is the DeLorean not all cold and coated with ice except on the first trip?
  • How did Doc Brown know where he was going to be shot? All Marty’s note says is that he’s going to be killed by terrorists. For all he knows, they’re going to shoot him in the head, which makes the “oh, I’ll just wear a bullet proof vest and I’ll be fine” approach a bit mad.

And the new timeline created by Marty’s week in 1955 raises some interesting questions (ignoring the obvious ones like – how did everyone turn out pretty much the same, living in the same house, Marty going out with the same girl, etc, with such fundamental changes in their living circumstances?):

  • How did the Doc get out of being blamed for the destruction of the town clock? The police officer saw him tying a whole lot of “complex weather testing equipment” up to the thing, shortly after which the clock NEVER WORKED AGAIN. Come on.

  • Why the hell do George and Lorraine have Biff working for them? The guy who tried to rape her on the night they got together? And why is Biff, who lost all his power once George punched him in the face, all happy for George’s success with the book?
  • And wouldn’t George have got suspicious, as Marty grew up, at just how much like “Calvin Klein” he looked? How did Lorraine explain THAT one away?

There are also questions raised by the sequels – like, how did “Old Biff”, after buggering up 1955, get back to the original 2015 to return the DeLorean to Marty and Doc Brown, given that the rules apparently state you can only go forward along the present timeline?

Of course, I don’t think any of these could’ve been fixed and still allowed the movie to work. The reality is that the sorts of things Marty changes in 1955 would have “serious repercussions on future events”, which would’ve completely ruined the cute ending we enjoy so much. And at least it makes more sense than the time travel gibberish in the Terminator films and TV series*, in which events are entirely circular (or are they? Maybe Kyle Reese’s son is a completely different person to the original John Connor, and Kyle inadvertently achieved Skynet’s aim of getting rid of their enemy. KYLE REESE ACTUALLY KILLED JOHN CONNOR).

Can you tell? I love this stuff.

*Man, that was awesome. Please, please give us a third season.

UPDATE: I’ve removed the bit about Marty and the three and a half minute mile: the Lyon Estate is two miles from the centre of town, not the Peabody farm where the mall will be. Oops!

You can’t call a dead man “prat”

I suppose a campaign for someone to receive an honour (or have an honour restored) would be much easier if the person were recently dead and thereby entitled to the “speak no ill” rule, wouldn’t it?

FRIENDS of billionaire businessman Richard Pratt, who died after a battle with prostate cancer yesterday, have backed calls for a return of his Order of Australia (AO).

Well, since the man – by virtue of having just died – had no flaws whatsoever that you can mention, I can’t see any reason not to give him every honour under the sun. And whilst a list of his dubious – even criminal – activities might have shown such an award to be bizarre and farcical, the fact that only a shameless git would dare raise them now makes it almost plausible.

Vale Richard Pratt. We honour the good things you did, and forget the rest.

Another entrant in the disturbingly popular “most indefensibly brutal to prisoners” contest

An interesting philosophical and ethical question: is making prisoners kiss a bear’s backside a worse form of torture than insects placed in a confinement box and waterboarding or even running a car over a prisoner’s legs and rubbing sand into the wounds? They’re all nasty – but which is the MOST ridiculously appalling and indefensible?

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Bears: #1 threat to Serbian prisoners

Seriously, Serbia, the United States of America, and the United Arab Emirates – you’re great disappointments to the rest of humanity, all three of you. Look around you: do you like the company you’re keeping in the previous sentence? Do you? No?

For god sake, let this be a wake-up call.

At least he hasn’t abandoned everyone

Jeremy Sear of Pure Poison on how wonderful it can be when self-interest and principle collide:

One of the convenient things about believing in a me-first ideology like the conservatism beloved of certain News Ltd writers, is that it requires pretty much no sacrifice. Your opposition to tax increases for the rich conveniently matches your opposition to tax increases for yourself. Your political stance is “what’s good for me”, so it’s not exactly difficult to live up to it.

And on Alan Howe shamelessly damaging the criminal justice system:

The sad thing is that the same people who read the criminal reports in the Hun and don’t ask even basic questions (like – hang on, that doesn’t sound right. Why did the Judge do that? And why doesn’t the Hun tell me the Judge’s reasons?) will take Howe’s rant seriously and demand terrible, dangerous, damaging action from cowardly and populist politicians. The upshot of which will be, if not the implementation of any of Howe’s demented suggestions, more “mandatory minimum” sentencing sections in criminal legislation (with all the commensurate justice you get from a punishment being determined in advance by politicians who’ve heard not a word of the case rather than an experienced, qualified human being who can judge a case on its merits).

Which is a serious blow to justice.

Excellent pieces, both, if he does say so myself, which I think excuse him from writing anything on his actual blog today.

That’s a pretty long line of dominoes

One problem I have with veterans’ parades is that there’s no distinction made between those who actually “defended our freedoms” and those who clearly (or not so clearly) didn’t.

There was a band of veterans who just marched past who’d fought for the French in Algeria in the early 1960s, for example. I’m not sure how that kept anyone “free”, least of all Australia.

And why are scouts marching?

Find the funny

Here’s a challenge. Take this witless tirade of abuse by conservative “comedian” PJ O’Rourke and find the funny.

Is it this?

The worst thing in politics is ”bipartisan consensus.” Bipartisan consensus – that’s like when my doctor and my lawyer agree with my wife that I need help.

Ha ha ha!

Or this?

The global economic melt-down is bringing droves of these consensus-builders to office. (And I, for one, am over the age of consent.)

What a pun!

Or maybe?

First, he appoints a Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who thinks ”foreign affairs” means her husband is overseas.

LOL. Yeah, I’ve heard he was a bit of a sleaze.

Andy and tim think the highlight is this bit:

America has wound up with a charming leftist as a president. And this scares me. This scares me not because I hate leftists. I don’t. I have many charming leftist friends. They’re lovely people – as long as they keep their nose out of things they don’t understand. Such as making a living.

When charming leftists stick their nose into things they don’t understand they become ratchet-jawed purveyors of monkey-doodle and baked wind. They are piddlers upon merit, beggars at the door of accomplishment, thieves of livelihood, envy coddling tax lice applauding themselves for giving away other people’s money. They are the lap dogs of the poly sci-class, returning to the vomit of collectivism. They are pig herders tending that sow-who-eats-her-young, the welfare state. They are muck-dwelling bottom-feeders growing fat on the worries and disappointments of the electorate. They are the ditch carp of democracy.

And that’s what one of their friends says.

Heh heh. Carp.

Seriously – this is supposed to be funny? I’ve read wittier posts by tim Blair.

Their hearing may have gone, but ours hasn’t

Why must a day for remembering the sacrifices of our brave military men and women be constantly tainted by the horrible noise of bagpipes?

“Sex-crazed”?

According to the Herald Sun, the following is being “sex-crazed”:

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“I can’t stop making noise during sex, it’s unnatural to not make any noises, and I don’t think that I’m particularly loud.'”

Quick, get that woman in a strait-jacket!

You should see what happens when the videocamera is off

Another awesome reason to visit the UAE.

Freedom from anarchy Day

Oh, god – the economic rightwingers aren’t trying that stupid “Tax Freedom Day” drivel here, are they?

They are?

As Fred Clark pointed out regarding the similar argument by the US counterpart of the hilariously misnamed “Center for Independent Studies” -

Therefore, the Tax Foundation says, if we were liberated from the existence of government and taxes, someone now making $15 in gross pay would make $15 in net pay.

I don’t know which half of that assumption is crazier — the idea that equivalent jobs would exist with equivalent wages in life Beyond Thunderdome, or the idea that $15 here would have exactly the same purchasing power as 15 units of whatever barter-currency the regional warlords would be accepting in the Hobbesian jungle of the Tax Foundation’s idea of utopia.

Please tell me no-one’s taking that garbage seriously.