The power of the first Back to the Future depended not just on an arbitrary 30-year period, that is, but on how radically America had changed across those decades: Marty’s adolescence and his parents’ courtship lay on opposite sides of (among many other things) rock ’n’ roll, civil rights, Vietnam, the sexual revolution, drug culture, the moon landing, feminism, the apocalyptic ’70s, and, finally, the conservative turn of the Reagan years.Of course the future projected in Back to the Future II was full of flying cars and flying skateboards and other cool future stuff.
Douthat thinks this means that cultural change has slowed to a crawl:
In the original Back to the Future, Marty McFly invaded his father’s sleep dressed as “Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan.” Thirty years later, the biggest blockbuster of 2015 promises to be about . . . Darth Vader’s grandchildren. It will be directed by a filmmaker who’s coming off rebooting . . . Star Trek. And the wider cinematic landscape is defined by . . . the recycling of comic-book properties developed between the 1940s and the 1970s.I wonder about this a lot, and we have discussed it here before. Has the personal computer, internet, smartphone revolution really been no big deal? Or has it been, in its way, as profound as anything that happened between 1955 and 1985, or between 1925 and 1955, or between 1895 and 1925? I tend to think that recent changes have not been particularly impressive, and that most of life's basics -- how we work and where we live and what we eat and so on -- have changed very little over the course of my adult life. Thoughts?