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Subject: The messed up music scene at the end of Back to the Future rss

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Brendan Riley
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The passing of Chuck Berry got me thinking...

So in Back to the Future, the time travel theory indicates that you can change the past and create an alternate future. Marty does so, giving his dad the confidence to best Biff in all manners after high school, or something. And helps his mom avoid alcoholism.

But he also completely derails a key segment of the American Music scene. In the film, they show Marion Marvin Berry on the phone with his cousin, Chuck, giving the music pioneer a glimpse of the song he would have created without interference three years later. Assuming Berry is as excited about the song as Marion was, he probably starts playing it three years earlier than he originally released it.

So, BGG crowd, how is the music scene different at the end of Back to the Future?
- Did Berry go in a different direction? Did the emergence of the song three years earlier make a difference in the history of rock 'n roll? (Maybe it would have failed -- those three years were pretty important).

What else might have happened?
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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So Chuck Berry plays the song for the first time (say in his bedroom) and it is instantly a hit record?

Maybe it took three years to convince a record label that it was a good song.

Let us call it the beetles conundrum.
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You've got it wrong.

The film really happened, see? Not only did Marty fix his family, he also gave the world Chuck Berry. At the beginning of the film, in the original reality, Chuck Berry doesn't exist as a rock star. Only by going back in time, and performing Johnny B Goode in front of someone who knows "Mr Berry", does our current reality occur.

Of course this simply confirms that the human race is a hive mind, monkeys with typewriters etc. In Marty's original reality, the song Johnny B Goode is written, but just not by Berry. Rock and roll exists to the extent that Van Halen are still doing their thing in 1985. Someone, we aren't told who, had already done the things Berry did in our reality; by performing the song in 1955, Marty just passed over that stuff to Berry to do. The opening riff is pinched from Louis Jordan anyway. But Berry "wrote" the song in 1955, is what the history books say. History continued inexorably along its path; rock and roll was fated; just some of the minor details changed.





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Joe Salamone
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I read a movie review or essay or something many years ago that criticized the movie for implying that an African American music legend wasn't responsible for his achievements . . . he needed help from a white kid. Now, back on track before this slides into RSP.
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David Jones
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Well, if we take what happens in the movie at face value, it is nothing more than your common Bootstrap Paradox, which you can Google if you don't know what that is. I'm not really sure what special insight you expect the BGG community to come up that hasn't been discussed about the problem over the past 50+ years.

That side, I remember a friend of mine back in the late 80s once tried to play a song to me over the telephone. While I could make out the melody, I know I didn't hear all of the notes and I couldn't understand half the lyrics. Given that I lived in a newly developed suburb, the telephone technology available in 1955 had to have been worse. Sound also reverberates different backstage than it does in front of a stage. The point here is that I find it highly questionable that the (movie) Chuck Berry would have been able to get a good clear listen of the song that Marty was playing. My take on this would be that Chuck Berry wrote the original tune, Marty played it to him, and then, having heard the song over the phone, he might have been inspired to write the song sooner or faster than he did the first time around.

Its also worth noting that the movie could have an anachronism as is. Berry was invited into a recording studio in May 1955, but the Enchantment Under the Sea dance happens in November. I don't know if Goode was written before November or not, but Berry had already developed his "new sound" by then.

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Walt
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Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is, "Restricted to a narrow frequency range of 300 to 3300 Hz, called the voiceband, which is much less than the human hearing range of 20 - 20,000 Hz." "POTS was the standard service offering from telephone companies from 1876 until 1988" when ISDN became available. Quotes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plain_old_telephone_service
 
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David Jones
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is, "Restricted to a narrow frequency range of 300 to 3300 Hz


I knew that there was a freq restriction on POTS but I didn't know what it was. It was also my understanding that this was a technological limitation, not a legal restriction, but I may be wrong on that. (Its not clear which is the case from the link you provided.) In either case, it backs up the point that Movie Chuck Berry could not have possibly got a good enough listen of the performance to be able to copy it exactly. He would have had to fill in the gaps on his own.
 
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Walt
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davypi wrote:
Tall_Walt wrote:
Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is, "Restricted to a narrow frequency range of 300 to 3300 Hz

I knew that there was a freq restriction on POTS but I didn't know what it was. It was also my understanding that this was a technological limitation, not a legal restriction, but I may be wrong on that. (Its not clear which is the case from the link you provided.) In either case, it backs up the point that Movie Chuck Berry could not have possibly got a good enough listen of the performance to be able to copy it exactly. He would have had to fill in the gaps on his own.

It may have started as a tech limit, but since that range conveys human voice just fine, when they started putting more than one conversation into a transmission line (multiplexing) they locked in that bandwidth.

However, since it does convey voice just fine, Chuck Berry should have been able to hear the song if not the guitar licks.
 
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Brendan Riley
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slatersteven wrote:
So Chuck Berry plays the song for the first time (say in his bedroom) and it is instantly a hit record?

Maybe it took three years to convince a record label that it was a good song.

Let us call it the beetles conundrum.


Maybe, but Chuck Berry was a professional recording artist by 1955, so it isn't like he's a novice.

davypi wrote:
Well, if we take what happens in the movie at face value, it is nothing more than your common Bootstrap Paradox, which you can Google if you don't know what that is. I'm not really sure what special insight you expect the BGG community to come up that hasn't been discussed about the problem over the past 50+ years.


It isn't a bootstrap paradox, as the end of BTF is a different timeline than the one Marty originally came from. Marty really CAN'T get back to the original timeline he came from. Also, I thought it would be fun to talk about. Sheesh.

joe_salamone wrote:
I read a movie review or essay or something many years ago that criticized the movie for implying that an African American music legend wasn't responsible for his achievements . . . he needed help from a white kid. Now, back on track before this slides into RSP.


I thought of that criticism as well, except that Marty is clearly playing Chuck Berry's version of the song, so Marty is just responsible for accelerating it, perhaps. That said, Hollywood does have a long history of making films in which white people are better at doing something than the people who originated that thing (viz "the white savior" narrative).

Thanks for the comments about how the phone system works. I love it!
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Walt
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wombat929 wrote:
It isn't a bootstrap paradox, as the end of BTF is a different timeline than the one Marty originally came from. Marty really CAN'T get back to the original timeline he came from. Also, I thought it would be fun to talk about. Sheesh.

Yes, it's a little off-point to criticize an entertainment movie about not doing time travel exactly right. BUT, Back to the Future does it very well, all the same. The bootstrap near-paradox is Marty engineering the meeting of his parents.

And the movie shows, in all kinds of obvious and subtle ways, that once you go back in time, you're creating a new future. (This is consistent with most scientific views of time travel--time is not "sticky", trying to reach some set destiny. I think one view is that every time a quantum event happens, it happens both ways creating two timelines.) Not only do the obvious things happen like Marty's family improving, but after Marty runs over a sapling in 1955(?), 1985 Twin Pines Mall becomes Lone Pine Mall.

Similarly, at the end of the third movie, (I forget) canyon is now Eastwood Canyon.

joe_salamone wrote:
I read a movie review or essay or something many years ago that criticized the movie for implying that an African American music legend wasn't responsible for his achievements . . . he needed help from a white kid. Now, back on track before this slides into RSP.

In any case, it's taking a little joke way too seriously. The thing to take seriously is slavery apologists, but that belongs in RSP (which is a much improved place with the banhammer back.)
 
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Marvin Berry. Marion is the coked-up former mayor of DC. The version where Marty goes back in time and Marion is part of the rock n roll scene is one I would love to watch.
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David Jones
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If all you want is Marion Berry, boy have I got some great news for you...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marionberry
 
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Brendan Riley
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The Warp wrote:
Marvin Berry. Marion is the coked-up former mayor of DC. The version where Marty goes back in time and Marion is part of the rock n roll scene is one I would love to watch.


Huh. Looking it up, it's Marvin. Whoops. Dumb culture getting mixed up in my head.
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