Biff Howard Tannen

Biff Tannen is the bully in the “Back to The Future” series. He is the “bad guy”, he is at every turn the one who drives people away and pulls them together in their hatred and fear of him. In some aspects Biff is the catalyst that joins together Marty and Dr. Brown. He is also why Marty is so ready to challenge any bully that Marty would continually fall for “what are you chicken” taunts. In many aspects, he is what drives Marty, Dr. Brown, George McFly and Lorraine McFly to an ever-higher realm of togetherness, success and achievement. In Biff’s time, there were no anti-bullying campaigns and there was no state funded attention on the negative aspects of school bullies.

What if Stanford S. Strickland had punished Biff for his antics and terrorism of the other students at Hill Valley High? Mr. Strickland was somewhat of a bully himself. But he was a bully in the sense that he had an entire school to control with hundreds of children and adults colliding together on a daily basis. Mr. Strickland had to have total control, and he enforced his authority and ethics on his staff and students by not letting anything or anyone run wild. Mr. Strickland had no time to intervene between the perpetrators and their victims. He had a school to run, and he did the best he could do which in hindsight was actually very efficient and enabled learning both school and life lessons to his students. If Mr. Strickland had intervened then Marty, along with Dr. Brown, George and Lorraine would have never learned how to work together to escape, evade and eventually overcome and outsmart their common enemy which was Biff.

Marty along with his father George, his mother Lorraine, his best friend Dr. Brown and his girlfriend Jennifer, all were forced to collaborate in one way or another to avoid the traps and pitfalls of life. Since Mr. Strickland would not be bothered with quelling childish arguments and fights, it was up to them to find a way to deal with adversity and consequence. Marty learned a lot before he would grow up, he learned to deal with adversity, he learned how to ask for help and he learned where he could go in his time of need for love, affection and moral support. He learned it in a safe and loving environment. Ultimately, he took those lessons forward to become a more successful father and husband.

If Marty had been saved from the school bully at every turn with adult intervention and passive aggressive shaming techniques. By the time he had grown up, never having to deal with adversity and consequence or learning how to collaborate with his allies. Then as an adult he would have been a client of the state, always waiting for a higher power to intervene in his day to day struggle. Providing the answers for menial questions and silencing those that would antagonize him. All the while stimulating his need and desire for others to mend his shortcomings and his perceived roadblocks in life.

Bullying is not encouraged and it does invoke passionate emotions that we all feel. Every single one of us has been bullied and every one of us has learned to deal with stress and adversity due to bullying. But what getting bullied also teaches us is that we are not alone and that there are people that care deeply about us. Some will ask for help and others will not, when dealing with a bully. But no matter how we deal, it strengthens us and allows us to grow. As a parent who dealt with bullies in their past, I know what to look for in my children who may be getting bullied. We are also smarter than our children and can help guide them on how to deal with the bullies that harass them. We can also put it into perspective for our children so that the bully however menacing they may seem, is never as powerful as they are perceived.

I do not condone bullying and I am not encouraging the bullying of any child or adult. But bullies are real and they exist among us. If we run to the state every time we are bullied then who will run the state will be the bullies. But dealing with a bully might help us to learn more about ourselves and our strengths and how to confront and overcome adversity. If we don’t deal with adversity as children then how can we expect ourselves to have the strength from within to confront moral and ethical atrocities as adults? Lean on each other and look to your parents, family and friends for moral support and guidance, they love you, and want you to succeed in life.

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