(And now, anpther article I wrote for my newspaper this semester)
It seems that the 21st century has some obsession about wanting to relive the wonders of the previous decades, ranging from the geezers who want the 50s to save us from the immigration invasion to those millennial pricks that can’t stop talking about the 90s. Personally, I think we’re trying our hardest to get back to the 70s, thanks mostly in part to the glorious win of ladies man and professional party stair-faller, Justin Trudeau. But there’s more than that, it’s our obsession with weed, the younger generation feeling aimless and yearning to express themselves creatively, grassroots protests against the establishment and racism, and Scooby Doo still being a thing. Most notably though, it’s our obsession with space and with Star Wars that gives our desperation to be in the 70s again away. That and a good economy.
Back in those days, people still were in awe that we managed to get a man on the moon and respected the name of George Lucas. NASA had a budget that they couldn’t count with just their fingers and Alec Guinness’s career slowly diluted to only one role. Those commie bastards hung their heads in shame as their multiple achievements beforehand would amount to nothing compared to Neil Armstrong and Darth Vader. It was a wonderful time for space exploration and for sci-fi. Along the way though, the battle for the cosmos had dwindled and the hardcore nature of the fandom grew, to the point that space exploration was left once again to being a fiction and a fiction obtained the wealth needed for space exploration.
Now we come back again to this bubbling of the two, with Mars being our new target for conquering and a seventh installment occurring to the series. While both seem interesting and one is more obviously awesome than the other, I still can’t help but grumble at the thought of another Star Wars coming to fruition. Never mind the prequels, I’m not saying that because I fear for the quality of the film. But rather say, haven’t we had enough Star Wars? There’s an excess of detail given to the franchise’s universe, so many materials used up to create the merchandise and so much money that has sucked into the pockets of millionaires that to continue feeding this bloated beast seems like a fool’s errand. It will never be full and it will never produce anything beyond thrills.
Much of what made Star Wars so exciting was the possibility that we could perhaps live that fantasy to some extent at some point near in the future. If the man could get on the Moon, man could surely go farther? And perhaps man could have done that, or woman, or person or dog even…if we had given more money to this endeavour. Alas, the excitement dwindled because our hopes for a more radically altered future were dwindling and the grand changes that we did get were not as exciting as we had hoped. More importantly, the space war had ended.
It was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviets that motivated the thrust forward to journey the final frontier. The Soviets were throwing Sputnik, Laika, Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova at those decadent Americans in the 60s and a year before they got into the groovy 70s, the US hit back with Apollo 11. There, a victory was sealed, but then nothing came of it. It was only a moment of gloating that then faded away. Perhaps, if another challenge was set, we would have already seen some progress in Mars. It did not, and so we are here.
Some may tell you that the greatest motivation to terraform Mars would be due to how we fucked the world up with global warming, but lord knows that’s not going to motivate the politicians to get there any faster. Shit, it doesn’t even help us not get fucked from the flooding. I say that we make it a global contest to advance the limits of space travel. More countries are developed and tinkering with astrophysical technology, it wouldn’t seem too far-fetched to pitch it. If anything, it makes it more interesting, as we can shine the spotlight on China and India’s efforts to the intergalactic battle. The US and Russia are still bitter rivals so they might as well duke it out in the International Space Station to kickstart the Cold War Part II. And hey, we Canadians got the Canadarm and Chris Hadfield for us. We can get in on this too! Fuck leaving it to the private sector and eccentric multimillionaires, we got to make this a nationalistic cockfight if we want to live to see the day we can travel lightyears away.
Of course, the only way we can make any progress at all is if we divert any of our money to the latest installment. I know so many people will call for my head as I say this, and no doubt I’m aware of how tough a decision this will be. But do you want to live the rest of your life knowing that if you didn’t push the potential of nations who want to measure their greatness by how far they’ve advanced with space technology that you could never live to have hiked up Olympus Mons or seen the sunset on an ice rock on Saturn’s ring? We always bemoan that we were born after we could explore the Earth but damn it, we might not be born before we could explore the cosmos. We can explore these galaxies if we just made it a more heated competition, if we financed those institutions that could lead us there, not by indulging in a fantasy. Because even if the next Star Wars is the greatest thing ever imaginable, it still will never be any better than watching it on a plasma screen in a condo on Mars.