What are the ramifications of people from the future giving ideas or devices to people from the past? Leaving the comedic value of this aside, I’m interested in how this concept operates, and why it keeps showing up in popular culture.
First, it provides a facile explanation for human genius. It reduces the ability of great innovators and artists by making them little more than copyists, regurgitators, or merely analyzers of someone else’s genius (i.e. some artifact from the world of the future). That this fits a certain mindset that cannot understand genius or achievement and so ridicules it, is no accident.
Practically, it allows underachieving people to raise their fists and say, “See, they’re no better than us after all!” It allows them to feel superior to achievers by mocking the abilities of achievers. However, this is sadly futile, for reality gives no evidence of future people. This concept is merely a sociological/psychological construct that allows these people to feel better about themselves. Why must achievement and achievers be brought low? The Left derives all its energy from the resentment of success, and its long bloody war is a war against achievement — everyone must be equal, and so anyone who achieves or innovates or explores or endures must be reduced until they are equal to the others.
Second, this idea lends support to the liberal/progressive viewpoint that the future is great and only those from the future (or future-minded) can guide those in the past. Because progressives have a vision of the future, it is their influence in the past that has made the world of the present so glorious, and if people would listen to their ideas now, then the world would be better still. In this, they also mean that the only reason that people of the past have value is because they carried forward progressive ideals. They are not valued for their own sake or on their own terms.
Reality is 180 degrees out-of-phase from the progressive perspective. From abortion (ethnic/genetic superiority), to a police state/lack of freedom, the left’s future always leads through the graveyard to oppression for most, and goodies for a few, instead of freedom for all. People of the past did not embrace progressivism and that is why we even have freedom today. This irks progressives to no end, so what to do? Introduce the idea of future people to rewrite history in the popular culture to demonstrate their ideas as superior. Understand that for many people, entertainment guides and shapes their view of current events and the past far more than actual news. How many people still think that Sarah Palin said, “I can see Russia from my house!”? Thus the left has not abandoned the news, but takes special care to change the past in movies, literature, and song.
Third, this concept keeps appearing in popular culture because giving credence to innovators, creators, and artists would be recognizing that they did something of their own volition without aid from the government. Independence is not the PC position; dependence is. In the words of Obama, “You didn’t build that.” The denial of individual ability and individual responsibility is almost an article of faith for the left; it is widespread. Obama believes it; Elizabeth Warren believes it; Hillary Clinton believes it; every leftist politician that votes for affirmative action or welfare believes it. And what are the politics of Hollywood? Therefore, it must be shown that the greats of the past were not so great — they just happened to receive help from the progressive people of the future.
The end effect of this concept is not only a trivialization of history, but an oppression. It denies individual ability, individual creativity, and hard work. It whispers that you cannot achieve things without help. It is fatalist, as only those who get help, apparently, can do anything lasting, and it is completely random who receives help and who does not. This concept is a ode to sloth, and a paen to mundanity. It makes people laugh while they mock the achievers, lest they give up some entertainment and try anything themselves; it is a narcotic that discourages involvement with civics, a suffocating blanket that poo-poos creativity or invention; it is a comfortable chain and a choking collar for all those who might otherwise cause too many problems for the establishment by questioning or even upending it. That must not be allowed to happen, so the message of futility and dependence must continue to circulate through the popular culture until everyone rests easy in their chains and is drugged into an everlasting stupor.