There’s a very specific analog between Biff Tannen, the bully and bad guy in almost every timeline in Back to the Future Part II, and a certain political figure who is rather popular in the United States right now. He’s been handed the keys to fortune, he’s unrepentantly used that fortune exclusively for himself, and he’s even become a public advocate for plastic surgery for women in his family.
It is not hard to put two and two together.
So, Bob Gale—writer of Back to the Future Part II and man who helped predict the IMAX theater and the self-checkout line—in these past few months, were you thinking what we’re all thinking?
“We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding?” he says. “You watch Part II again and there’s a scene where Marty confronts Biff in his office and there’s a huge portrait of Biff on the wall behind Biff, and there’s one moment where Biff kind of stands up and he takes exactly the same pose as the portrait? Yeah.”
Of course, in the movie, Biff uses the profits from his 27-story casino (the Trump Plaza Hotel, completed in 1984, is 37 floors, by the way) to help shake up the Republican Party, before eventually assuming political power himself, helping transform Hill Valley, California, into a lawless, dystopian wasteland, where hooliganism reigns, dissent is quashed, and wherein Biff encourages every citizen to call him “America’s greatest living folk hero.”
“Yeah,” says Gale. “That’s what we were thinking about.”At RealClearPolitics, Heather Wilhelm writes:
Is the comparison over the top? Absolutely. Yet, in the movie, there’s power-hungry, sordid Biff, bragging about how he buys off the police; in reality, one might remember Mr. Trump proudly describing his own ability to buy off cash-poor politicians in the first Republican debate. In the movie, there’s Biff bending whatever’s left of the law to exploit hapless victims; in reality, there’s our friend Donald Trump, a man with a proud past of targeting elderly Atlantic City widows using the government’s power of eminent domain.
“A decade and a half ago,” as Robert VerBruggen noted in National Review, it was still “fresh on everyone’s mind that Donald Trump is one of the leading users of this form of state-sanctioned thievery.” Today, Trump is better known for his Biff-like verbal bombast than anything else. Unfortunately, his fans tend to ignore the fact that his riffs are filled with prescriptions that would require equally bombastic uses of government power.