Try to guess the film through the opening scene below:
The door to a garage opens. Stepping into the doorway is a young man wearing a t-shirt and open flannel shirt. We don’t see his face, we barely see his legs.
He’s dropping a key under a door mat. The camera moves down towards him and featured in the shot, larger than life was a foreign object to most boys at the time. It was a large decorated piece of wood with wheels on the bottom. A skateboard.
Figure it out?
I’ll give you a hint.
Yep. Back to the Future.
In a five or six-second span of time, American culture changed forever. A brand new world opened up on many levels.
Michael J. Fox stepped into the big time—he was now a superstar.
Time travel took over sci-fi films.
And something that was an outlier entered the bloodstream of the mainstream: every elementary school and a teenage boy in the country decided they had to have a skateboard.
For a sport that started out on the fringe and was seen as almost criminal in nature—sneaking over walls into the neighbor’s backyard to shred their empty pool—it instantly blasted into the hearts and minds of nearly 65 million Genxers in 1.21 jigowatts, and became acceptable, to a degree.
Or it was a friend, the left side of their head newly shaved, bangs hanging in their eyes, a Vision Psycho stick under their feet.
Whatever introduced us to the sport, something shifted when the silver screen spent a good portion of the film’s opening, highlighting what was a new symbol of teenage rebellion up to that point.
It is ironic that a world of outlaws, adventurers, innovators, daredevils, and wild boys—lost boys, some will say—was opened up to us through the straight-laced, snarky, but loving Marty McFly.
Instantly, our clothes changed—brands like Vision were now a must in our closets. Our hairstyles changed—long bangs and shaved regions of the head shocked our middle-America parents. Our language changed—ollie, gnarly, shred, and a few choice swear words took over our conversations.
Those of us decent at pushing the board down the road and popping the tail was in a new club, a new tribe, a new life. We found new friends and different souls focused on new kinds of art—thank you, Jim Phillips and VC Johnson.
And it was gnarly.
What got you started in the world of skateboarding?
For me, it was trying to be cool, like Michael J. Fox.
Who knows, maybe someday, where we are going, we won’t need roads to skate.