I heard a teaser clip the other day about why young people want to see the U.S. send a man to Mars.
“Everybody who was alive then knows exactly where they were when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface,” an under-35-sounding man said. “Our generation doesn’t have that, and I want us to.”
As people his age say: LOLOL.
On one of the other anniversaries of the Apollo 11, I read a story about how people remembered it.
“I remember it so vividly,” ran a typical account. “My kindergarten teacher had a TV on a cart, and brought it into the room. She drew the blinds and we all gathered around to watch.”
Or: “My daddy and I were making hay on the farm, but mama said we should take the afternoon off and watch, because it was history, and so we did.”
There were several more like that. Proving that our memories can lie like a young wife with a side piece, oh yes they do. Obviously no one was watching in school, unless they went to a school where classes were held in the middle of the summer, close to midnight. And very unlikely anyone was making hay, either, although that person might be thinking of the moon landing, which I believe was on a Sunday afternoon. It is seared in my memory because I was at a friend’s house, and her dad teared up. I wasn’t accustomed to seeing men cry, which is probably why I remember it better than the fuzzy images on the black-and-white TV.
I, too, can tell you where I was: Struggling to stay awake in my bedroom, while my mom watched from the other twin bed. The upstairs TV, which we rolled around on a cart, was in my room.
“Don’t you want to watch this?” she’d ask occasionally, and I’d struggle to focus, but I missed the one-small-step stuff. I was only 11, and even then, not much of a night owl.
But contrary to popular belief, memories can lie, and do. We’re suggestible, and stuff gets corrupted on our hard drives, just like it does with the one I’m writing this on. How many times have we heard stories about kids watching news of the Kennedy assassination on TVs in schools? Add a few more years, and suddenly they’re all mixed up.
A little short today, I know, but I had another insomnia bout last night and I’m beat.
For bloggage, try on this Robin Givhan essay about the late JFK Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette. Interesting take:
Fame looked so different at the end of the past century than it does now. Princess Diana died in 1997. We paused and did a bit of cultural soul-searching. The price of fame was too much; the paparazzi had gotten out of control; it was a dangerous thing for a celebrity to fly too close to the sun.
We weren’t quite done with the introspection and the feeling of culpability when John and Carolyn died two years later in a plane crash. And when they did, it was as though we just threw in the towel and began to indulge in our worst impulses. We demanded to know everything about celebrities — what they wore, what they ate, when they gave birth, who they voted for, how they grieved. And the famous began to make the best of an untenable situation by transforming most every aspect of their lives, including their hobbies and parenthood, into a side business.
In hindsight, it’s as though Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy were holding back the impeding tide of celebrity excess: the costly haute couture, the personal branding, the competitive public confessionals, the grotesqueness of it all.
Back later this week, eh?