Monday, October 4, 2010

Back to the Future's 25th Anniversary Screening: does AMC really want to open that can of worms?, or, "Incest" is impossible for time-travelers.

Later this month, on the 23rd and 25th of October, several AMC Theaters will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film "Back to the Future" by screening the film. You can find the list of participating theaters here.

I am old enough to have actually seen the film in a theater when it originally opened on July 7, 1985. In fact, I might have seen it in the theater twice during its first run, I'm not sure. I also seem to recall some theaters running it again, around the time the confusing and recursive sequel appeared. To get people caught up.

Not only am I old enough to have seen the film when it originally ran in theaters, I was actually old enough to have a crush on Lea Thompson, the attractive young actress who portrayed Marty McFly's mother.

This caused me no end of consternation.

One of this film's more charming aspects is that Marty McFly, as portrayed by Michael J. Fox, was imminently relatable. I had no problem identifying with the put-upon nerd who rises above his average, some might say humble beginnings, to become a heroic chrononaut. And therein lies the problem.

Because, you see, I wanted to sleep with Lea Thompson. Lea Thompson was the main character's mother. I identified with the main character. Post hoc ergo propter hoc; or, as Aristotle would say, I wanted the main character to sleep with his own mother.

It's not like it would have been a bad thing: Think about this. If you're a teenager and you go back in time to before you were born, then you don't exist. Anything you do doesn't count. Because you're not really you. You haven't been born yet.

Your mother isn't your mother. She's a very, very hot, teenaged Lea Thompson.


What if your mother looked like that?

And if you will recall, Ms. Thompson's character, Lorraine Baines, was very much attracted to Marty McFly. She was more interested in him than in the man she was supposed to marry, Marty's father George McFly. And who could blame her? George McFly was a complete doofus.

Marty McFly was cool. Like I was back then.

So it would not be incest for Marty McFly to engage in the act of coitus with Lorraine Baines. Since Marty McFly hasn't even been born yet, there cannot be any taboo to violate. Marty McFly doesn't exist yet! Thematically, this point is driven home by the fact that Marty McFly gets a new name in 1955: Calvin Klein. The schizophrenic nature of time travel identity is further crystalized when "Marty" tells George McFly that he is Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan.

The chrononaut Marty McFly is not the real "Marty McFly," the son of Lorraine and George. He is without an identity. No one's son. He can sleep with whomever he wants, even if the person he sleeps with is to one day become the mother of "Marty McFly."

But then, if George McFly and Lorraine Baines didn't get together, then "Marty" would not exist. Well, what if "Marty" was his own father, the way Lyle Swann was his own grandfather in the classic and under-appreciated film Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (another film I also saw in theaters during its original release)?

Then he would have to sleep with Lea Thompson.

I spent a lot of time working this all out when I saw the film. It's probably a bit, I don't know, ugly to sleep with your own mother, even if you haven't been born yet and she's not really your mother and you aren't really you, you're "Calvin Klein/Darth Vader." But for crying out loud, if your mother looked like Lea Thompson... well, that changes things doesn't it?

AMC Theaters, do you really want to open that can of worms again?

Lea Thompson pic source.

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