For thirty years Tom Wilson has been known to the world as Biff, the bully, villain, and secret tragic figure of the Back to the Future franchise. The role is so iconic, the movies so ingrained in the culture, that the very name “Biff” belongs to him and him alone. It’s enough to have turned the man known as Tom Wilson into a living, breathing pop icon figure.
In this thoughtful, reflective video essay, titled “I Am Pop Art,” Wilson explains how the art form that he loved as a child came to define his own existence as much as anything, and how he has—fittingly—responded to his status in the culture by embracing Pop Art itself.
“I’ve painted a response to being a Pop Icon. After thirty years, I’ve become Pop Art, something that people look at, recognize, and remember. I’ve tried to respond with art. I hope you enjoy it.”
As he says in the video, he is famous, but famous for something he did long ago, and not for what he does now. It’s a type of fame that lives in memories of the past, a cultural symbol for what was. Rather than let that become a negative, like a former star who can’t let go of the world he lived in before, the way we do when we grasp on to mementos from our own past, he has put that energy into creating something new.
His wonderful art shows that he has managed to channel his very status as a living icon into something both tangible and good.
He may be known to us as Biff, pop icon, but Tom Wilson is a lot more than that.
What did you think of this video essay? How did you react to it? To his art? Tell us in the comments below.
Images: Tom Wilson