Monday, July 20, 2009

continuing the saga

in the early 60's, JFK urged that the US get to the moon by the end of the decade. the space race has already been going on for many years, with russia beating the US to space in '57 with the launch of sputnik, a satellite that didn't do anything. but americans didn't know that, so much fear and speculation ensued. in 1962 JFK said this: "the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. we have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding."

star trek first aired in 1966. star trek was actually canceled in it's third season, if you can believe that. but a cult following was able to revive it eventually spawning five more tv series and eleven (11!) motion pictures. according to popular belief, star trek has always been a big nerd fest. [i am somewhat skeptical that it always was this way because the 1979 original movie made $139 million. so either a lot of nerds went to see this movie A LOT of times (which is possible, i guess) or a lot more people went to see this movie than they would probably like to admit.] but anyway, my point is star trek fan=big nerd.

as i'm sure you know, 40 years ago today apollo 11 landed on the moon. neil armstrong and buzz aldrin walked around, planted the flag, and made a little movie. the entire country watched on tv. for more than a decade apollo missions continued landing several more people on the moon. but eventually russia stopped being america's greatest enemy and the space race sort of...fizzled out. eventually being into space stuff became just as nerdy as being into star trek. well, maybe not AS nerdy, because star trek fans are really really REALLY nerdy, but close.

does the american flag on the moon mean that america owns the moon? is the moon a US territory? i don't know. but with all the hype about getting into space and getting to the moon i find it kind of sad that NO ONE CARES. the fact that america got to the moon first means absolutely nothing. no one even cares about the moon anymore except those whack-jobs who try to prove that the whole thing was a fake. who cares if it WAS fake? would it matter? no, because no one cares about the moon. very VERY few people even care about space anymore. innovations in space do not make it easier for us to text or twitter, so public interest in space has all but disappeared. the international space station is about to be shut down from lack of funding. news stories about crazy rich people who are willing to pay big bucks to get a chance in space catch our eye, but that's pretty much the extent to which the average american even notices anything about the space program.

and then star trek came out this year. already it has grossed $378 million dollars and succeeded in making star trek less nerdy: further proof that hot young actors can make anything cool. anything. i did see this movie and although i didn't love it, everyone else i was with did. i felt they should have ventured even more away from the original series than they did, but i guess they were afraid of the nerd uprising that would have followed. anyway, all kinds of people saw this movie, probably especially teenagers (the boys for the action, the girls for the oh-so-dreamy chris pine), leaving star trek still a little bit nerdy but also a little bit cool.

so how can the US space program get the funding/public support they need? why by investing in a hollywood movie, of course. they could get chris pine to play armstrong and shia lebeouf to play aldrin. never mind that these men were MUCH older when they landed on the moon than pine and lebeouf are--what matters is that the actors are considered HOT in the eyes of swooning teenage girls everywhere. add in some awesome high-speed car chases and some scenes where big-breasted women take off their clothes and you've got yourself a major hollywood hit...and sudden interest in the space program.

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