A neighborhood kid brought his new skate board over for me to see. As soon as he stepped off of this new board, I flipped it over to look at the graphics and noticed immediately that they were very familiar.
“It’s like in that movie,” the kid said. And I knew just what movie he was talking about: Back To The Future II. Even though this skateboard had axles and wheels, it was still a fairly close replica of the “hoverboard” which Marty McFly uses in the second Back To The Future to escape from Biff and his gang.
Now I hadn’t thought of the hoverboard in years (I just haven’t gotten around to watching my copy of the Back To The Future trilogy), but seeing that replica reminded me of the controversy it created in my circle of friends. We were all skaters at that time and so we were all very interested in the hoverboard. We all agreed it was cool. We couldn’t all agree, though, on whether it was real. One of my friends said it was real but was not being released in stores because parents were saying it was too dangerous. Another friend said that he had seen one of the movie producers on TV stating that it wasn’t real (this friend actually said that the producer had held up a hoverboard, said, “This is the hoverboard”, and then tossed it down as Marty does in the movie, only for it to fall flat on the ground). Personally, I was undecided; I wanted the hoverboard to be real (still do, actually), but I just had no way to decide it if was or wasn’t.
And that was just one of many such controversies we had in those days, controversies that I believe stemmed not from our ages as much as from the age. Today, kids can simply look such things up on the Internet; one quick check of snopes.com or Yahoo answers and they will know for sure. In those days, though, there was no Internet (at least, the popularly-accessible Internet), no video on demand, no Twitter. We couldn’t check anything anytime we wanted; we couldn’t easily watch the video over and over to investigate the hoverboard footage (it was out on VHS, of course, but that wasn’t nearly as accessible as DVDs and YouTube). We were instead dependent on periodically released media: movies, TV shows, magazines, things that you could easily miss and not be able to retrieve. In that informationally-deprived time, then, such controversies and many similar ones (such as whether or not people were really killed in Friday the 13th movies or if there was a secret movie in which Sylvester Stallone fights Arnold Schwarzenegger) could and did flourish.
And that really isn’t a bad as it sounds. Yeah, I do feel kind of foolish today when I consider the hours we spent debating this point (especially since I have just watched that scene on YouTube and found that the hoverboards were clearly a product of special effects and camera angles), but I also feel somewhat nostalgic. Those hours were fun, after all. And they were also innocent, innocent in a way I really miss today. I wouldn’t trade the Internet for anything; I would not want to be so informationally-deprived again. But I wouldn’t mind arguing about such things, such possibilities, for a little while; I wouldn’t mind hovering over these issues once again like we did back then.