Rapper Wiz Khalifa was arrested at LAX this week. What was he arrested for? If we're to believe almost every headline, Wiz's crime was joyriding a hoverboard at the airport. Are we finally living in the future Back To The Future II promised us?
It may seem that way. It's 2015, just like in the movie. Flat screens are real, just like in the movie. Video chat is real, just like in the movie. That film was surprisingly spot-on in its lighthearted speculative predictions!
But the future-auguring powers of major motion picture sequels have their limits. Wiz was not riding a hoverboard, despite the glut of reports claiming he did. What we have here is a horrible misnomer, one that we should not abide.
Let's take a closer look at Wiz on his toy:
There's not an extensive checklist of qualities something must possess to be a hoverboard. All a hoverboard has to do to qualify as a hoverboard is hover. That's it.
Lexus actually made a hoverboard; that is, a rideable board that hovers. Our sister site Jalopnik rode it. But the Lexus hoverboard is not yet available for purchase, and it sounds annoying to use, since you have to fill it up with liquid nitrogen around every 10 minutes. Still, it uses superconducting magnets to levitate.
In contrast, not only is Wiz's board not hovering, its wheels are prominent. There is no ambiguity. His feet were attached to a board that was touching the ground with its wheels. There is no hover.
Perhaps he gained some air doing a trick on the board, but whatever amount of time he spent on a board untethered to the terrestrial plane was not due to its design.
You may be wondering why I'm getting my panties so sandy about media naming conventions for a novelty transit accessory. I'll tell you why! I believe in the facile ingenuity of humanity, in our often quixotic but occasionally sublime quest for innovation. I believe we could be Marty McFlyin' around town on levitating oblong slabs, breeze softly caressing our hair, feet planted on a board located at minimum 1-5 inches off the ground, feeling great, having a blast, living a dream brought to life by the formidable storytelling power of Robert Zemeckis. We just haven't figured it out yet.
We accept the hoverboards we think we deserve, and these hoverboards are trash!* We're filling a hoverboard-sized hole in our dreams with lies.
Here are some other options for referencing these accessories:
3. Lil' scooties
6. It's just a scooter
*OK, Casey Chan has one and we sometimes ride it around the office and it's pretty fun. He calls it a "hoverboard non-hoverboard", which I appreciate. Because it's not a hoverboard.