I consider space research self-justifying with no need to generate special excitement for it, but apparently NASA has realized that nowadays if something doesn’t have an intense trailer with dramatic music, it’s not worth caring about.
So what feels like a new Transformers preview disappointingly turns out to be just a publicity notice for a return-to-the-moon initiative:
In case you’re in a library and can’t hear the audio that accompanies the innocuous visuals of this inspiring promo, Clive Thompson at Collision Detection captures the effect perfectly:
There’s all this creepy, minor-key horror-movie music, combined with bleed-in text that ominously proclaims: “We took a giant leap … we stopped … we’re going back.” Then there’s a shot of a lunar vessel approaching and impassively snapping pix through its single HAL-like eye.
Then boom! It’s all action, with a bunch of rovers thundering across the lunar surface like beetles while launch-ships swirl overhead, all set to unsettlingly thumpy action music.
I’m not sure what the term is for this kind of bizarre reverse-influence from Hollywood to the space program, but Justine at Film Fatale wonders:
“We took a giant leap…We stopped…Now we’re going back” To do what? Finish off whatever we didn’t kill the first time around?
Meanwhile, Clive observes:
The whole segment appears to have been shot not from the point of view of us optimistic, yay-for-space-exploration geeks, but from the point of view of some nameless, gentle race of peaceable moon inhabitants who are about to get totally vaporized by a ruthless horde of colonizing, gibbering humans.
My blogless friend Beady Eyes Al (i.e., AL not A.I.) finds it entirely of a piece with the nature of the space project itself:
The pomposity and sheer pointlessness of that advert, like absolutely everything NASA and every other space exploration organisation have ever done, is astounding.
I take his point and admit that I love space exploration precisely because it is 100% gratuitous and therefore — like poetry, music, art, and even sport — uniquely human. To put it too glibly, only pursuits with no survival value give value to survival (cue the Sphinx).
So although I style myself a supporter of minimal government who would prefer public services be limited to road maintenance and a standing defense, I admit space exploration is the one item of unnecessary expenditure I fully support draining gazillions of tax dollars into.
I’m always astounded by the fact that within 66 years we went from not being able to keep our asses off the ground to landing on the moon (and by “we” I mean humans not necessarily Americans). By that rate, frankly, the last 38 years have been an extended embarrassment. At least the Cold War motivated us to accomplish things.
As a kid in the 1980s I was promised flying cars and settlements on the moon by the year 2000, but what do we have instead? Mobile phones and the internet. Tell me, what good is a portable phone if I can’t place a call from the moon? I want my darn moon base!
I appreciate the fact that technological advances shifted focus from distance transport to microprocessing, but considering that we reached the moon with a computer less sophisticated than a basic student calculator, by now we should have colonies on Pluto.
For the first time in the history of the species we have an opportunity for guiltless colonization. By all accounts our celestial neighbors host no animals or plants, much less sentient persons with rights to violate. So unless human rights are extended to minerals, we could satisfy the imperialistic impulse whilst redefining it as the benign cultivation of uninhabited wastelands.
When I started this blog I promised never to let it become political, but on this issue I think we can leave our disagreements behind us (on Earth) and support planetary enfranchisement:
–> Partisan American politics would become a historical footnote. “Red states” and “blue states” could relocate to a red planet and blue planet, so Hollywood actors and New York magazine elites would no longer have to share the same ecosystem with the public they despise.
–> The overpopulation lobby can get behind it. China and India can start having baby girls again to rectify their gender imbalance, finally giving feminists and pro-lifers a common cause.
–> Each religion could have its own planet, so Islam could finally establish a universal caliphate (as long as “universal” isn’t meant literally), while Jews could finally live on a planet off the map of which nobody wants to wipe them.
–> The UK could even solve its prison overcrowding crisis by establishing an Australian style penal colony on Neptune’s terrestrial moon, which could inspire an awesome TV series called “Triton Break.”
–> As we’re always reminded, the environment would be better off without humans anyway. So let’s get our rears in gear and get off this rock!
SAVE THE EARTH:
MARS OR BUST!