Monday, November 8, 2010

"Back to the Future" and GSA

Over at Slate, Juliet Lapidos compares and contrasts “Back to the Future,” which is now 25 years old, with Oedipus Rex.

In elementary school, I was only dimly aware of these incestuous themes. If you've graduated from eighth grade, you can't miss them. I rewatched Back to the Future on the occasion of its quarter-century anniversary (it's newly available in Blu-ray), and can attest that incest is absolutely central to the plot.

What's genius about Back to the Future, however, is that it still manages to be unfailingly PG. It's a film about having sex with your family that's family-friendly.

True, there no sex seen on screen other than kisses and an attempted assault.

This seems icky. So icky that, when writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis pitched the idea for Back to the Future to Disney, the studio purportedly said that a mother falling in love with her son was not appropriate for their brand.

Universal green-lighted the project, but Disney's objection was not lost on producer Steven Spielberg, who once told Empire magazine that he "thought the Oedipal aspect was really gross."

Some people consider foods that others enjoy very much to be gross. Thankfully, this didn’t stop Spielberg from producing the film. And it should not stop people who have real-life love for each other.

Lorraine's infatuation never feels un-Disney, however. Back to the Future presents mother-son attraction not as a perversion, but as one of those things that just happens and kinda makes sense, if you think about it, since in this reality mother and son are the same age.

It makes sense for people who aren't the same age, too. I remember that when the mother character (Lorraine) kisses her son, unaware that he is her son, she pulls back and says it feels wrong, like she is kissing her brother. This was probably included to make Spielberg and others less queesy. But as we’ve seen many times in real life, especially with GSA situations, she would probably have more intense attraction to him, not less.

If mother and son had been contemporaries, would they have dated?

In reality, a son is likely to have some of the looks and mannerisms that attracted his mother to his father in the first place, as well as some of her own or those of her close family members. This can be very powerful in attracting people to each other, especially if they did not spend the last 20 years in a parent-child or sibling relationship.
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