And even though I was a young slip of a thing, inexperienced in the ways of loonacy and alternative accounts of how the world works, I couldn’t help picking up on the fact that a core objective of the entire movie was to portray the second American in space, Gus Grissom, as an utter, utter loser
I’ve subsequently seen the film several more times and I personally have no doubt that it was a deliberate hatchet job. In fact, the film goes so way over the top in besmirching Grissom’s character that, even as a kid, I left the cinema with a strong sense of grievance on Grissom’s behalf. Slagging off a dead man who is incapable of defending himself, through the medium of a multi-million dollar epic movie, is pretty low behaviour
If you ever watch ‘The Right Stuff’ you’ll learn that Grissom was a coward, greedy, dishonest, a clumsy buffoon and unfaithful to his wife - a frustrated, shrew-like character who was clearly unfulfilled sexually; implying that Grissom probably had a small cock as well
The producers left absolutely nothing out
This was back in the dark days before the Internet and even though I tried to do some reading up on Grissom after seeing the film I wasn’t able to get much of handle on why Hollywood and NAZA would go out of their way to so blatantly defame a dead man
I did however, establish that...
- Grissom was an severe critic of the Apollo program who compared Apollo hardware to a lemon
- Grissom died in a fire whilst strapped in the ‘lemon’...
- Years later, I read that Grissom’s family were convinced that he was murdered because of his criticism of Apollo and that his son had found what he believed to be physical evidence which proved Grissom had been murdered
It was when I started to encounter claims that Apollo was hoaxed in some way that I found a possible motive for dragging Grissom’s name through the gutter in the way it had been. Putting it briefly, I was predisposed to giving Apollo Hoax theories the time of day because I was already aware that NAZA was controlled by a bunch of devious, unscrupulous cunts
As a moderately interesting aside, at the same time as depicting Grissom as not having the ‘Right Stuff’ the movie of that title bent over backwards to eulogize someone who supposedly did...
Chuck Yeager was portrayed as being a tall, good looking and fearless personification of All-American values. The beautiful, unshrew-like Mrs Yeager was clearly in receipt of a regular portion from a man as capable of controlling huge, thrusting projectiles on land as at near-space altitudes
He was so full of the right stuff he could barely walk
But what is this ‘right stuff’ exactly?
A couple of extracts from Yeager’s autobiography on the subject of his World War II exploits help fill in the blanks a little...
“Atrocities were committed by both sides. That fall our fighter group received orders from the Eighth Air Force to stage a maximum effort. Our seventy five Mustangs were assigned an area of fifty miles by fifty miles inside Germany and ordered to strafe anything that moved. The object was to demoralize the German population. Nobody asked our opinion about whether we were actually demoralizing the survivors or maybe enraging them to stage their own maximum effort in behalf of the Nazi war effort. We weren't asked how we felt zapping people. It was a miserable, dirty mission, but we all took off on time and did it. If it occurred to anyone to refuse to participate (nobody refused, as I recall) that person would have probably been court-martialed. I remember sitting next to Bochkay at the briefing and whispering to him: "If we're gonna do things like this, we sure as hell better make sure we're on the winning side." That's still my view.”
“By definition, war is immoral; there is no such thing as a clean war. Once armies are engaged, war is total. We were ordered to commit an atrocity, pure and simple, but the brass who approved this action probably felt justified because wartime Germany wasn't easily divided between "innocent civilians" and its military machine. The farmer tilling his potato field might have been feeding German troops. And because German industry was wrecked by constant bombing, munitions-making was now a cottage industry, dispersed across the country in hundreds of homes and neighbourhood factories, which was the British excuse for staging carpet bombing and fire bombing attacks on civilian targets. In war, the military will seldom hesitate to hit civilians if they are in the way, or to target them purposely for various strategic reasons. That's been true in every war that has ever been fought and will be fought. That is the savage nature of war itself. I'm certainly not proud of that particular strafing mission against civilians. But it is there, on the record and in my memory.”
So, it would seem that 'The Right Stuff' includes a capacity to set aside any moral concerns and machine-gun someone growing vegetables if told to do so
From what I have learned of Gus Grissom's character it is possible that in the same situation he would have told his commanding officer to go fuck himself or, more likely, he would have flown out and strafed some trees
Clearly not The Right Stuff
It’s a mystery to me why Yeager never actually became a NAZA Astronaut. Yeager would have got on with Wernher and the boys like a house on fire
- There's the impending release of Apollo 18
- I've started seeing postings on 'Apollo 20' pop up here there again
For the first half of my adult life I accepted, without reservation, that humans had set foot on the Moon
The list of matters of faith that I once accepted without reservation also included...
- Life strains at the leash to spring up out of primordial sludge and evolve into complex organisms
- All physical impediments to viable space travel can be overcome
- The Universe is so big that it must be teeming with evolved Life forms
Contrary to the belief system that pervades our culture, through 'popular' science and creative media, there is a distinct possibility that our existence is to all intents and purposes unique and that we live on the only inhabitable chunk of real estate that we're ever likely to have access to. There will be no Get Out of Jail Free cards and no Magic Space Friends are going to turn up and pull us out of the shit
This may come across as an abstract proposition, with no practical relevance to the here and now, but I believe that if a majority of people took on board the possibility that 'This' is It they might start to behave very differently
Imagine for a moment if, instead of whipping Apollo out of a hat, NAZA had announced that it had concluded that space represents an impassable barrier and that we are stuck on this fabulously unlikely and wonderful planet for the foreseeable future. Would our attitude to the world around us be tangibly different? I suspect yes