You may have heard rumblings in the past of companies trying to develop the first ever hoverboard. The company that manages to conquer the finer points of gravity in order to create a board that doesn't need wheels will be worth millions instantly. But any such invention could be decades away, if not longer. So why our fascination with the hoverboard?
It all goes back to Back to the Future II, a 1989 film and the second installment in a three-part series starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The first film in the series has Fox's character traveling back to 1955; the second film has him traveling forward to 2015. It is in 2015 that the movie's main character, Marty McFly, sees and uses a hoverboard for the first time.
Aficionados of the Back to the Future series also know that McFly 'invented' skateboards when he traveled back to 1955. In order to get away from an unfriendly gang chasing him through the town square, McFly grabbed a homemade wooden scooter from a kid, pulled the handlebars off, and used it like a skateboard.
The prevalence of the skateboard in the film series is important from a cultural standpoint. Why? Consider the following three reasons:
1. Skateboarding Was Just Beginning
If you are younger than 40, you might assume that skateboards are a turn-of-the-century thing. They are not. Skateboarding goes back to the early 1980s; to an age when kids were looking for things to do in the absence of computers, cell phones, and most of the rest of the technology we take for granted today.
In those early days, skateboarding was about hanging out with your friends and learning to ride tandem down a steep hill without killing yourselves. Most people considered skateboards a fad the kids would outgrow. Yet the writers of the Back to the Future series thought otherwise. They saw skateboarding as something that would survive well into the future.
2. Skateboarding Technology Keeps Advancing
Introducing the hoverboard in the second film proved that filmmakers believed in the future of skateboards. And while we may not have the technology portrayed in the film yet, skateboarding technology continues to advance year after year. Boards are getting better, they are lasting longer, and skateboarding becomes more exciting and challenging by the day.
Any student of sports history knows that advances in technology tend to make a given sport better. That is certainly true in skateboarding. The things our parents were doing back in the 1980s seem so passé to us; the things we do on skateboards today they never would have considered on first and second generation boards.
3. The Skateboarding Culture Has Survived
The 2015 of the Back to the Future series is one in which punks and thugs use hoverboards to do what they do. In part, that might be a reflection of the 1980s mentality that believed skateboarders were troublemakers just looking to disrupt communities whenever they could. We certainly know that thinking is by no means true. More importantly, the skateboarding culture that grew out of our parents' love for boarding has remained intact for decades.
Today, the skateboarding culture is still about hanging out with your friends and having a good time enjoying something you all love. Futurist predictions and hoverboards aside, what many people thought was a fad has become a staple of American youth. Perhaps some of it is due to the iconic nature of the Back to the Future series. But most of it is because skateboards are just plain fun.
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