FB Recap: Privilege in Back to the Future

Growing up gives you a perspective that can ruin all the good things of your childhood. I’m going to comment on Back to the Future here, so if that’s an integral pillar of /your/ childhood, you might want to skip.

I’m listening to the excellent Art of the Score podcast on the Back to the Future soundtrack, and they’re discussing the Johnny B. Good moment. As a kid, it was just a fun little goof with a neat time travel joke embedded in it. Now, it’s a parable about the invisible insidious workings of privilege: A White kid goes and takes credit for the artistic invention of a Black man. Who invented rock and roll? Not the jazz musicians who turned their struggles into musical vibrancy; no, it was the wet-behind-the-ears kid who steals their sound. Not that Marty is the culprit here. It’s Spielberg and Zemeckis, who execute the theft without commenting on it, or probably even noticing it. THAT’s what privilege is: the freedom from history that allows you to make the cute time travel joke without having to consider the larger context.


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