PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…
PART 1 – A late night visit from Ms. Donnelly
PART 2 – A later arrival by Ms. Tsang
PART 3 – Once again, our resident gumshoe has Agnes the Librarian do his homework for him.
AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…
The pages of research that Agnes had printed out for me sat on my desk, pieces of of a puzzle that I needed to sort and put together if I was ever going to make heads or tails of this mess.
Bookshelf Q. Battler’s question needed to be answered:
How did Doc Brown and Marty McFly know each other in Back to the Future?
Doc Brown and Marty McFly weren’t two individuals who would hang out together under normal circumstances, that’s for sure.
“What’s a jiggawatt?”
DOC BROWN – Elderly wild haired scientist. A genius to be sure and yet not all of his brain cylinders were firing at once when it came to mental stability. What kind of a man makes a deal to build a bomb for Libyan terrorists with the intention of hoodwinking them and stealing their plutonium to use for his time machine? I haven’t decided if that move made him certifiably bonkers, the owner of a big pair of brass cajones, or both.
MARTY MCFLY – Popular 1980s kid. Liked trucks, music and his pretty girlfriend. Doesn’t actually appear to be all that interested in science.
WHAT THE MOVIE TELLS US
Not much. The first film begins with the two already knowing each other. Marty’s family don’t appear to know much or care about his relationship with Doc Brown. There’s never any indication or clue as to how a teenage boy came to be the acquaintance of a mad scientist.
#1- They Were Friends
It may be hard to believe for a generation that’s glued to their beep boop machines, and their Facebooks and Twitters and social netwhatevers but there was a time when people actually walked around their neighborhood and got to know one another.
Even harder for you to believe is that there was a time when people actually gave a crap about each other. You ever heard of the saying, “It takes village to raise a child?” Used to apply. Back in the day, parents would get reports on their kids from the teacher, the bus driver, the milk man, the barber, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, literally everyone who spotted the kid walking around town would notify the parents if the kid was acting like a jerk.
And more surprising to you folks is the fact that the parents would usually punish the kid appropriately rather than sue the adult reporter for offending them.
Times sure have changed. There used to be a day when a kid could walk around with reckless abandon but today a youngster who does that risks having his face end up on the side of a milk carton. (What, they don’t do the milk carton thing anymore?)
In simpler times, kids would knock on the neighbor’s door to say hello and they’d actually come back alive and well. There were whole television shows about it. Dennis the Menace was a late 1950’s/early 1960’s show about a boy who kept pestering his curmudgeonly neighbor Mr. Wilson, only for the lonely and childless Mr. Wilson to occasionally note that he appreciated the young lad’s friendship despite the hijinx that transpired whenever Dennis was around.
Hell, there used to even be a show on Nickelodeon called Mr. Wizard in which random kids would just stumble into a scientist’s house and conduct experiments with him.
And Mr. Rogers? He began each show by inviting the neighbor kids into his house with a “Won’t you please, won’t you please, won’t you be my neighbor? Hi neighbor.”
And you know what happened back then? Nothing. Dennis the Menace returned to his parents no worse for wear, Mr. Wizard’s students returned to their homes with minds full of knowledge and Mr. Roger’s neighbors returned to the neighborhood, their heads full of stories and wonder.
Shows where kids and adults befriend each other have understandably gone extinct due to a multitude of news reports about adults doing evil, unspeakable things to children. As a lawman, I understand. I trust no one and if I had a kid, I wouldn’t let it out of my sight for a second, let alone allow it to form a friendship with some random adult person. There’s just too many freaks and weirdos out there today.
But keep in mind the 1980’s, like my own time in the 1950’s, was a less suspicious time period and it would not have been out of the ordinary back then for a teenager to befriend a mad scientist. Today, Marty’s parents would probably call the cops on Doc Brown and file a restraining order.
Doc and Marty were pals to be sure, but that can’t be the end of it.
#2 – Employee/Employer
Could Doc Brown have hired Marty to help him out? He was working on a lot of complicated experiments. Building a time machine isn’t a one man job. It dawned on me maybe Doc gave Marty a few bucks to help him tote his plutonium and lug his capacitors and so forth.
The smoking gun that put this case to bed was right in front of my nose. In an article on movieline.com, it is reported that Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale has stated there was a backstory that never made it into the films. Apparently, when Marty was 13 or 14, after hearing rumors that Doc Brown was a lunatic crackpot, Marty snuck into his lab, was in awe of all the gadgets and gizmos he found and Doc Brown decided to give Marty a part-time job helping out with the experiments.
I’m going to go with #1 with a side of #2 (coincidentally, my favorite order at Tsang’s China Palace.)
Marty was Doc Brown’s employee. We don’t know how much moolah Marty made off the gig, but it makes sense. Marty wasn’t a nerd and since nerds weren’t that accepted long ago, the movie probably would have tanked had Marty been some kind of geek who actually enjoyed learning about science from Doc. Instead, Marty was presented as a cool kid, the kid that kids watching the movie wanted to be like. A kid like that is only going to get interested in science if there’s money involved.
Still, there’s no doubt that a friendship was there as well. Doc and Marty save each others’ hides throughout the film trilogy and a person doesn’t usually stick his neck out for another fella unless he cares.
Pop Culture Mysteries – Copyright (c) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license
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