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How Time Travel Theories in Pop Culture Would Play Out in Real Life

Time travel: it’s the stuff of legends, sci-fi nerds, and, (apparently) really disgruntled individuals who wish to avoid Monday mornings. Not to mention comedians who use ventriloquism in their act… being a ventriloquist is akin to living in the vaudevillian world of the 1920s and 30s.

Hollywood has been milking this concept for ages, from Marty McFly's escapades to the time-turning tricks of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series of books and movies. But how would these popular time travel methods fare when confronted with the unyielding logic of the real world we live in here in 2023? As a ventriloquist, who obviously takes time-travel much too seriously, here’s a quick dossier.

Back to the Future: The DeLorean

We've all seen it: a stylish car, thunder, flaming tire tracks, and voila! Welcome to a new era. But in the real world? PUH-LEEZ! First of all, consider the speed requirement. Reaching 88 mph on most streets would first land at least some of us a hefty fine. And even if you managed to hit 88 mph in your Prius, instead of zooming into the past, you'd likely be zooming into traffic court.

After that? Don’t forget the "1.21 Gigawatts" of power. Are you kidding me? My electric bills are already through the roof. There is no need to add “time travel surcharges” to the monthly charge that automatically gets deducted from the old checking account… which makes me wish I could just time-travel the balances to a time where I actually had a balance.

Harry Potter: The Time Turner

Ah, the Time Turner. For people of a certain age, (I see you GEN Y and GEN Z), it was every student's dream. Forgot to study for an exam? Just turn back time! Overbooked your schedule? No problem! But think about it. If you struggled with the topic the first time around, repeating the same hour might just give you double the headache. Plus, as a personal note, there is no doubt I’d turn it one too many times and end up in a pre-smartphone era. Horrors!

(As an aside, I always felt the person teaching time travel at Hogwarts should have been named “PAIGE TURNER.” Just my opinion.)

Doctor Who: The TARDIS

I loved Doctor Who back in the day. A British police box that's bigger on the inside and can journey through time and space? Sounds like a New York apartment dream. But realistically, if we’re talking all things Gotham, parking is hard enough in 2023. Imagine trying to find a space for your not-so-subtle TARDIS in the middle of ancient Rome. And, let's be honest, with my sense of direction, I'd aim for the Renaissance and end up with the dinosaurs. 

(And I’m not talking about The Rolling Stones!)

Taylor's crazy travel schedule

Groundhog Day: Reliving the Day

One of Bill Murray’s finest flicks, the concept is he relives the same day over and over - until (ostensibly) he gets it right and wins over Andie MacDowell. That might sound like a blessing, especially if it’s a Friday. But anyone who's accidentally put their phone on repeat knows the madness of hearing the same song endlessly. Now, imagine that with a whole day. Burnt toast, morning traffic, that awkward conversation with Karen from HR – over and over. Pure torture.

(As another aside: the piano solo Bill pretends to play is really cool - yes, I learned it… talk about time travel… it took almost 10 hours since there isn’t any sheet music… and when you practice something over and over and over it basically defines “time travel.” Just saying.)

Terminator: Naked Arrivals

The Terminator showcased an arrival method that's, uh, quite revealing. Hey I'm all for body positivity, but suddenly appearing stark naked in a public area might raise more than a few eyebrows. Forget about altering the future; you'd be too busy trying to find some pants.

Bill & Ted: The Phone Booth

A phone booth that travels through time? Seems efficient. But in the age of smartphones, good luck explaining to a twenty-something what a phone booth even *is*. Plus, with today’s roaming charges? You'd bankrupt yourself with one trip to ancient Egypt.

Taylor Swift: New Era

No. I have not seen Taylor’s live concert film. But what if your dad spent $3,000 to get you a ticket so you could be a “Swiftie” and see her live? Then he shells out another $30 so you can see the same exact songs, outfits, and same Taylor on a movie screen… isn’t that the definition of time travel? You re-live the same exact thing?

(Not to mention how many times do we have to see Taylor Swift in cherry red outfits, hanging out in the private booth high above the masses in these NFL arenas, bumping and grinding with Travis Kelcey’s mom as Patrick Mahomes throws a TD pass to Travis again and again and again… while the Chiefs win another game… talk about time travel… and shouldn’t we just refer to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City as “The AFC INVITATIONAL” since the AFC Championship always takes place there anyway… now THAT is true time travel!)


Pop culture makes time travel seem as casual as grabbing a latte from the local café, and depending on the amount of caffeine, you probably experience a form of time travel right there in the cafe. But the real-life implications would be hilariously chaotic. Sure, it might be entertaining to watch someone attempt these journeys (from a safe distance, of course), but for now, maybe it's best we stick to enjoying these tales from the comfort of the couch, remote-in-hand. After all, who needs time travel when you've got the next episode’s preview to tell you the future?

Stories Unlimited Podcast

Please take a look-see at my book, IRREVERSIBLE by Taylor Mason. Lots of 4-5 star reviews at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and on Google Play.

And my podcast, with the esteemed advertising prodigy Dave Kasey, STORIES UNLIMITED, can be heard on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Listen and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!


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