Are hoverboards real? Well, no. But if you were a kid in the 1980s and happened to see the "making of" documentary for Back to the Future II, you'd be forgiven for thinking so.
When I first started the Paleofuture blog back in 2007 I got some rather curious emails about hoverboards. Specifically, some people — some adult people — were emailing to let me know that hoverboards were real. How could this be? Well, they all vaguely remembered seeing someone talking on the TV-box about how Back to the Future II used real hoverboards, but that no-fun consumer safety organizations wouldn't allow them to be released to the public.
Here we have Robert Zemeckis, the director of the 1989 movie, lying to impressionable kids, creating a generation of bitter people, angry that they never got their hoverboard:
The hoverboard is a board that hovers on magnetic energy. And it works just like a skateboard except it doesn't have any wheels, and you don't have to have any pavement to hover on it. And they've been around for years, it's just that parents' groups have not let the toy manufacturers make them, but we got our hands on some and we put them in the movie.
Sure, we can see Zemeckis smirking, and any adult can tell that he's joking. But if you saw this clip when you were a kid it's easy to understand how you might be fooled.
And if you need more proof, below we have a gif (on the newly christened Gifmodo!) of Michael J. Fox suspended by wires, with his hoverboard clearly supported by a long black beam.
Zemeckis, you're a real jerk, you know that? Oh, and thanks for making one of the greatest movies of all time.