May 302016

Here’s an odd thing. If you listen to popular music for songs about space, you’ll hear very few. If you do hear one, it’ll almost certainly have lyrics describing space and space travel in unfortunate terms. If you see spaceflight in the movies, it’s almost always showing terrible things happening… war, aliens invaders, “space madness,” ships and stations falling apart, space diseases, so on. It seems that popular culture would have you believe that space is just… bad.

And yet: if someone needs to reference uplifting ideas, to show in graphic terms childlike wonder… one sure-fire way to succeed is to reference spaceflight. Gentlemen, behold: an American Family Insurance commercial that jumps straight into “the dream of space is awesome” pool.

 Posted by at 9:26 pm
  • Adam

    If there aren’t any catastrophes or antagonists in a movie about spaceflight, then where’s the conflict in the plot?

    • Scottlowther

      You can have a dramatic movie or TV show set in, say, Paris, without making Paris look like a place that is out to kill you.

  • James Cambias

    Adam does raise a good point. If you’re setting a story in space, some aspect of that story has to involve things in space; otherwise you can set the story on Earth. The important parts of any story are the ones that drive the conflict. Therefore a story in space depends on conflicts which can only occur in space. Since most forms of human conflict can occur anywhere, the conflicts in space are those which involve the environment and conditions of space itself — hence the depiction of space as a hostile environment.

    • Scottlowther

      > Since most forms of human conflict can occur anywhere

      Sure. But look at Star Trek II: humans killin’ each other in space, but space *itself* ain’t the badguy. Same with Star Wars. But so many “space exploration” movies basically end with the explorers trying desperately to get home because Mars, say, has bugs trying to eat them, or some sort of disease, or whatever. But then there was “The Martian,” where bad things happen and, at the end… everyone wants to either go back or be involved with going back.

      It’s maybe subtle, but it’s kinda the difference between a Cthulhu-worldview, where “the universe is out to get us, and will take every step to erase us, we’re doomed” and “the universe is a dangerous place but damned if we can’t conquer it and bend it to *our* will.”

  • Bruce

    Been liistening to a few 80’s songs lately just for fun. Can’t believe “Rock Lobster” by the B-52’s
    was released in April 1978 when I was in high school yet. Don’t remember hearing it on the
    radio until the 80’s. Anyway it still is fun to see the “Major Tom” video as long as you brought it up about songs about space.

  • Bruce

    Yes, but I can see your point even in the “Major Tom” video….”space madness” maybe?