I've come up with a theory that will almost undoubtedly end with me winning a Nobel Prize. No big deal.
It strikes me that the terror, fear and general despondency of the world—the dystopian quality of the past decade or so—makes perfect sense in the context of the film "Back to the Future: Part II."
For those not familiar with the crown jewel of the "Back to the Future" series, the second film finds Marty McFly traveling to the future with Doc Brown to put right an error his future self makes. In the course of doing so, Marty's nemesis, Biff, manages to deliver a copy of a sports almanac to his past self that allows him to predict the future and build an empire on gambling winnings. When Marty returns to his present day, he finds himself stuck in an alternate Biff-tainted reality.
That's what's happening right now: We are the unfortunate souls living in the Biff reality.
Think about it: The 2000 election debacle, 9/11, the Iraq war, the Bush presidency, Paris Hilton, economic stagnation followed by near collapse of the world economy, accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, firearms proliferation and the resulting killing sprees, "Honey Boo Boo," unemployment, urban violence, Fox News and white male resentment as political ideology, the Afghanistan quagmire, the clash of civilizations predicted by Samuel Huntington accelerated by the globalization of communications that has created senseless killers out of disenchanted diaspora-dwellers like the Tsarnaev brothers, the Syrian civil war, Gwyneth Paltrow and her preposterously high fence—all of it makes sense only in the context of the Biff alternate reality.
Certainly, this is terrible. After all, I don't want to live in the Biff alternate reality. I want Biff washing my car while my hit science fiction novel plunders the best-seller list.
However, the good news is that all we have to do is find the so-called "Biff" of our time—the one absurdly successful individual who has reveled in wealth, fame and power even as the rest of the world has gone to crap in a hellbasket.
But who could it be? Professional billionaire buffoon Donald Trump? Some sleazy Wall Street kingpin like JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon? Rupert Murdoch? Beyonce Knowles? My candidate would be someone who has profited from the laugh-out-loud absurdity of the horrors of the modern age, like Stephen Colbert.
Whatever the case, we need to find this person and destroy that sports almanac, ASAP.
Of course, I can hear people whining already, "But Markley, if we had civic institutions, a redoubtable media sector and an engaged citizenry, then we could safeguard our country—nay, the world!—from the encroachment of self-serving individuals who exploit blah blah blah blah ..."
Sure, we could do all that work. Or we could invent a time machine and travel back to the moment everything went off the rails and start flapping butterflies' wings and see how it all shakes out. Let's look for shortcuts is what I'm saying.
Then again, maybe the Biff of our world is closer than you think. After all, I assume the Nobel Prize one wins for the Biff Theory comes with a cash prize and babes.
RedEye special contributor Stephen Markley is the author of "The Great Dysmorphia" and "Publish This Book."
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