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How I Explained ‘Back to the Future’ to My 11-Year Old Daughter



Back to the Future stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson. Photo: Joe Vallee

It’s been over 30 years since Back to the Future was released on the big screen. And the film’s cultural impact is just as relevant with audiences today as it was back in 1985.


Several weeks ago, an enthusiastic audience at the Mann Music Center enjoyed a screening of the movie, as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra provided the film’s score the way it was truly meant to be heard. Last month, the highly anticipated appearances of actors Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson, drew a huge crowd at Philadelphia Wizard World 2016. If you missed the chance to join in on the previously mentioned events, don’t worry—Christopher Lloyd will be returning to the City of Brotherly Love on September 24, when he’ll take the stage at the Keswick Theatre to share his thoughts on the movie and participate in an audience-led Q&A.


While getting caught up in the recent wave of fanfare regarding this successful movie franchise, it seemed to be a very good time to introduce my 11-year-old daughter, Julia, to the sensation that was, and is, Back to the Future.


Much to the delight of my husband and I, she really enjoyed the movie as I hoped she would. However, watching this classic film turned into a history lesson that I didn’t realize I would be giving, and I was able to take a trip down memory lane as well.


I was a high school senior in 1985, so the “cultural artifacts” found in the movie that were regularly present during my youth, looked completely strange to my daughter—the highly visible Diet Pepsi Free cans, the feathered hairstyles, the white leather Nike sneakers with just a red swoosh, and a cordless phone that appeared to be just large and powerful enough to call Mars.There were no cell phones, electronic tablets, or mp3 players. It was a simpler time when you couldn't find out everyone's business on Facebook. You had to rely on newspapers and town gossip.


Another intriguing artifact? The Fotomat-type building that got flattened by the Libyans.


"Why was there a little house in the middle of the parking lot, mom?" my daughter asked. She smirked as I explained that once upon a time, you actually had to put film into a camera. Then, you would take it to the little film developing hut, and your pictures would magically appear a few DAYS later when you picked them up.


So, what did young Julia take away from this whole Back to the Future experience?


"Ew mom!" she sniped. "Everyone was wearing dorky mom jeans...everyone!"


"Those jeans were the cool thing to wear back then," I told her.


"And the seventies were worse."


Carol Brennan is a seasoned copywriter with some serious wife and mothering skills.

You can contact her at morepepper@comcast.net

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