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The star signs of Back to the Future
In the beginning, there were alignments. Then there were Hogwarts Houses. And then there was BDE.
When it comes to judging your favorite characters, these are all very fine and worthy metrics, but isn't it time we went back to the metrics that mattered? You know, the stars?
With their hands determinedly covering up the birthdates of your favorite characters, FANGRRLS Clare and Sara set out to assign star signs to all your faves, one franchise at a time.
In this edition, we gotta go back! In! Time! It's Back to the Future!
Marty McFly: Taurus
Clare: Martin 'Marty' McFly is one of the ur-teens of the '80s (well, ur-white-straight-cis-dude-teens of the '80s): a charming, crafty, and put-upon brunette with an iconic look.
Sara: Ferris Bueller also falls into this category, but Ferris Bueller is obviously a March Aries, who is chaotic, while Marty is trying to reign it all back in and failing, like a Taurus.
Clare: Honestly, Marty could be the hero in just about any '80s genre movie, he just happened to become best friends slash unpaid intern (?) with the local disgraced astrophysicist. And that's the versatility of the Taurus for you. If the world could only turn perfectly smoothly for Marty, he'd be happy as a clam, but no, he is beset upon on all sides by chaos.
Sara: If he could only find a safe, quiet place to eat chili cheese dogs with his girlfriend, or whatever similarly borderline-gross activity straight dudes in the '80s enjoyed.
Clare: Marty is also stubborn as the proverbial cosmic bull. The later movies push this into comical territory, but calling Marty a "chicken" is a surefire way for him to start making some bad decisions.
Sara: That delightful Taurean instant-rage.
Doctor Emmett Brown: Cancer
Clare: We have to talk about Doc Brown's Chicken Stand, which stood proudly at Universal Studios Hollywood for 15 years. That's right: Doc Brown owned and operated a fried chicken stand, which featured photos of him and his presumably famous fried chicken globe-trotting through time. I bring this up not because this is a piece of theme park trivia that never fails to cheer me up, but to point out that Doc always has to do things THE MOST. He can't just make some fried chicken. He has to time travel the fried chicken.
Sara: It is his frazzled nature and his love for creature comforts mixed with a desire to remain forever a hermit that leads me to believe we are dealing with a Cancer.
Clare: I feel like Doc is always bursting into a room, screaming at the top of his lungs, and then everybody has to deal, which is why it's lucky he's happened upon Marty as an unpaid intern/best friend. Could you imagine working with Doc in an actual professional setting? Harrowing.
Sara: If you've ever worked with a Cancer, this checks out.
Clare: His story in the extracanonical materials is also… superdark. I'm not totally clear on the status of the canon, because my quarantine home office is where my red string wall usually goes, but did you know that Doc Brown worked on the Manhattan Project? THIS IS A FAMILY MOVIE!
Sara: Cancers are always involved in some weird shady thing from 80 years ago.
Lorraine Baines: Libra
Clare: Okay, let's just get this out of the way at the top: Back to the Future is a family film where a mother unknowingly falls in love with her own son. IT IS THE MODERN OEDIPUS REX, IT IS KNOWN, IT IS KNOWN. Anyway, Lorraine does happen to be a person outside of that, and we actually get to see Lorraine in a lot of different circumstances: as a young woman, as a middle-aged woman whose life did not go well, and as a middle-aged woman whose life did go well.
Sara: All I can know is that I love her. Also, her "elderly woman" make-up is hilarious because if you've seen pictures of Lea Thompson as an actual middle-aged person, she's incredibly hot.
Clare: She's stunning! One of the main jokes in the film is that Lorraine initially insists she was a prim and proper teenager, when she was actually fully capable of having a good time. But despite this, Lorraine is old-fashioned in the sense that she wants to be rescued and taken care of by someone who can advocate for themselves. Some people need to be in units of two or more, and you know what? That's perfectly fine! Unfortunately, the original timeline handed her George, who, uh, couldn't. But instead of gently encouraging her partner to self-actualize, she… internalizes all of her disappointment and sublimates it into alcoholism, chain smoking, and passive aggressive comments. This is… less fine.
Sara: Libras do tend to define themselves by their relationships so her weird marriage making her miserable is not exactly a surprise, but honestly just between us she could have done a heck of a lot better than George and we all know it. That doesn't mean go for your son, though! That is not what that means!
George McFly: Sagittarius
Clare: Often, when we discuss the mighty Sagittarius in the august pages of this column, it's their indomitable will and "eff you AND the horse you came in on!" energy. George, who we see as both an anxiety-ridden teen and a broken shell of an adult man in the original timeline, might not seem like an obvious candidate. But, my friends, this is what happens when a Sag goes unrealized. It's an ugly duckling scenario. The unrealized Sag is confused that they are not like the other signs until their potential is fully realized, often unlocked via experiencing burning, righteous rage for the first time. Like George punching out Biff!
Sara: Yes, it's hard to assign a sign to someone like George because the movie goes so hard on playing up how deeply unlikable he is throughout the first two-thirds of the film. Still, when he finally breaks out of his shell, it's all that defiant Sag energy that we've come to know and occasionally love. Trying to keep his truth hidden wrecked the guy's spirit, and when he finally gets to express himself things just get way better for him and for everyone around him. Except Biff, who gets the messy end of a Sagittarius fist right in the kisser.
Clara Clayton: Virgo
Clare: Clara Clayton is the Edith Keeler of Back to the Future; she's a woman of the past marked for death who one of our technologically advanced protagonists falls in love with. But where Kirk engages deeply with the moral quandary of changing history and ultimately decides not to, Doc just goes for it because, let's be real, we'd throw it all away for Mary Steenburgen.
Sara: I'm very ready to ditch 2020 to go be with my Time Wife, to Hell with the timestream.
Clare: Like many a late installment love interest, there's not a lot to Clara as written. Steenburgen's incredible charisma does a lot of legwork for the character. But I actually do like the broad sketch: 1880s woman of science who loves Jules Verne and ends up reverse-engineering a steam-powered time machine with her husband over the course of ten years.
Sara: The idea of a steam-powered time machine is one of the most hilarious things I've ever heard of but I would not feel comfortable making light of a Virgo's plans to their face.
The DeLorean time machine: Aquarius
Clare: There are whole generations of Back to the Future viewers who only know the DeLorean as Doc Brown's time machine instead of as one of the delightfully weirdest and financially ruinous car models of the '80s. Which is a shame, because that's such an excellent joke! In the real world, the DeLorean ceased production in 1982 when the DeLorean Motor Company filed for bankruptcy. The car was just too ambitious and inventive for the problem it was trying to solve, which was "How can we make a car look cool?" Bringing way too much solution to a very simple problem is such an Aquarius move.
Sara: There is no other sign that would think, "Doors? What even are doors? Are doors aliens? Let's rethink doors."
Clare: The DeLorean time machine is also just… kind of never around when you need it? Yeah, it can travel through time for you, but you kind of have to motivate it and the conditions need to be just right. Like exactly 88 miles an hour right.
Sara: I'm lucky enough to know many Aquarians but that means becoming familiar with the paradox known as Aquarius Time where time simply passes differently for them. They say "I'll be there in an hour" and three hours pass and they show up looking like they just stepped out a time machine. To them, there is no "late," there is simply being "differently on time." That is the DeLorean in a nutshell.
Clare: Aquarians: the original time machines.