‘The Martian’ and the America we used to be

I went to see “The Martian” yesterday. Wonderful movie, if about 25 minutes too long, but a really strong Oscar bid for both director Ridley Scott and star Matt Damon.

I always feel guilty about the space program, because when I was a kid and it was in its glory, I paid very little attention to it. (Although the whole neighborhood crammed into our living room to watch the moon landing. We were the only family with a color TV.) And every time I see Ron Howard’s remarkable “Apollo 13” –a movie I stop to watch every time I pass it around the dials—I cringe when I think how little attention Americans paid to that real life life-and-death space drama while it was actually happening.

You know what these two movies — one fiction, one fact– have in common? They show an America that used to dream big, that honored its visions and saw far beyond the horizon. When Americans were known for pluck, and ideas, not for shooting at everything that moved. An America that saw science as a tool to change our destiny, not something to find more places to frack. That was the America we used to have, until the Republicans went batshit crazy and fucked it up for everybody.

We started to cut funding for NASA in the 1980s (guess whose idea that was?) Their funding took a minor bump after Hurricane Katrina, but the Republicans have been careful to shave an already-threadbare budget so we don’t get embarrassing reports on what their energy donors have been doing to the planet.

NASA funding

We’ve gone from being the country that dreamed big to the bare-minimum. Thanks to trickle-down economics and the politicians who enable it, we can’t even fix the bridges and fill the potholes.

It makes me furious. And it makes me sad.

3 thoughts on “‘The Martian’ and the America we used to be

  1. Susie – I come from a family of geeks and we actually did pay attention. I’ve seen two Apollo launches because we lived in Florida. I remember us all sitting around watching CBS News live coverage of the dramatic Apollo 13 re-entry. I think footage from that CBS broadcast (the clouds) was used in the film.

    I share your disappointment in how short-sighted Republicans are with regard to these NASA programs. There is a long list of wonderful discoveries as a result of them that are helping people every day including long-distance telecommunications and artificial limbs:


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