People, Tragedies, and Time Machines

Do people really think they could singlehandedly stop Hitler, 9/11, or any tragedy if they had a time machine?

The most poignant moment of Napoleon Dynamite occurs right after Uncle Rico sidearms a steak into Napoleon’s face.

As Napoleon sulks off in disbelief, Uncle Rico returns to the front steps and plops down next to Kip. As their conversation resumes, so does Uncle Rico’s reminiscing. If only he could go back in time, he says, then he would win the state football championship, make it to the big leagues, and be chilling with the ladies in a hot tub. Eventually – almost inevitably – the conversation turns to time travel.

This is where Kip comes in. He’s done his research… but not enough, which leads to minor crotch injuries for both Uncle Rico and Napoleon.


The entire fiasco is extremely amusing, but there is an important question imbedded here, which is the question in bold at the top of this post.

Now Uncle Rico’s hypothetical NFL career isn’t necessarily a tragedy, especially when you look at more serious events like terrorist bombings and war. But it is to him and at the same time, the thought process is exactly the same when it comes to almost all people, all tragedies, and time machines. For whatever reason, it seems as though Uncle Rico thinks simply going back in time would allow him to play that important football game and potentially change his life.

But how? How would he convince his coach to let him play? Would he just barge onto the field? He would probably reference the future, which nobody would believe, naturally. So how would he accomplish his mission?

His desire for a better life is a sentiment he has within him, yet he doesn’t actually have a concrete plan to achieve it, in the event he actually found a time machine. Maybe he would make an actual plan if he found a way to travel through time. Maybe not. Maybe he would just go straight in and emerge back in high school, only to find history repeating itself and this time, he knows what’s going to happen.

It would be like Source Code or any other movie where the person has to keep going back. Yeesh.

Of course, you may be looking at me a little concerned, like maybe I’m a little crazy. Why am I taking it so seriously? It’s Napoleon Dynamite for crying out loud!

Oh no, don't cry Uncle Rico!

Oh no, don’t cry Uncle Rico!

That’s true, but think about every conversation that revolves around time travel. Each time, some idiot says he would go back and kill Hitler (you may know this already, but Hitler and time travel are in a complicated relationship). Like that would work, am I right, Louis CK?



I was talking to a girl once (yeah it happens sometimes hehe) and she said if she could time travel, she would go back and stop 9/11.

My head almost exploded. I had some many questions. Or, just one.


Just as I predicted, she faltered and couldn’t come up with anything coherent. She mentioned something about evacuating the World Trade Centers. Oh yeah? How?

She didn’t know. Then I mentioned the Pentagon and United 93, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. How would she prevent those particular aspects of 9/11?

No clue.

And that’s my problem with people and time travel. Apparently they think being from the future would make them invincible or something. Or, if you want to be an optimist, they have noble intentions but haven’t actually thought about the specifics. Which is fine, I guess, since time travel doesn’t exist (yet).

Maybe they would plan everything out before going through time. Look at the disconcerting state of our society, however, and you can understand why I might be a little dubious in that regard.

I don’t know.

Maybe I am a little crazy?

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