Apollo 11 in popular culture

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The Washington Post on Monday, July 21, 1969 stating 'The Eagle Has Landed—Two Men Walk on the Moon'.
William Safire's memo to HR Haldeman to be used in the event that Apollo 11 ended in disaster.

The Apollo 11 mission was the first human spaceflight mission to land on the Moon. The mission's wide effect on popular culture was anticipated and since then there have been a number of portrayals in media.

Public reception[edit]

The mission was extensively covered in the press. Over 53 million households tuned in to watch this mission on TV, and over 125 million viewers watched the moon landing. This broke the previous record of the most viewers, and launched the Apollo 11 coverage to be the most watched TV programming up to that date.[1]

Acknowledgments and monuments[edit]

The United States of America (U.S.) acknowledged the immense success of Apollo 11 with a national day of celebration on Monday, July 21, 1969. All but emergency and essential employees were allowed a paid day off from work, in both government and the private sector. Coincidentally, the last time this had happened was the national day of mourning on Monday, November 25, 1963 to observe the state funeral of President John F. Kennedy, who had set the political goal to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

A replica of the footprint left by Neil Armstrong is located at Tranquillity Park in Houston, Texas. The park was dedicated in 1979, a decade after the first moon landing.

The Apollo 11 Cave in Namibia was named after the flight upon its successful return to Earth.

Portrayal in media[edit]

Movies and television[edit]

On September 16, 1962, the date Armstrong's selection as an astronaut was announced, his parents were flown to New York to appear on the television game show I've Got a Secret. After their secret was guessed, host Garry Moore commented "Wouldn't it be something if your son were the first man on the moon?" The episode has been shown on Game Show Network although Armstrong himself never saw it until his biographer brought him a copy of the tape.

The Australian movie, The Dish (2000), tells the (slightly fictionalised) story of how the images of the moon-walk were received by the radio telescope at Parkes Observatory, New South Wales.

The mission has been depicted in multiple films, including the television movies Apollo 11 (1996) and Moonshot (2009).

Portions of the Apollo 11 mission are dramatized in the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon episode entitled "Mare Tranquilitatis". In that episode, Michael Collins made the following suggestion as to what Armstrong should say upon stepping onto the lunar surface: "If you had any balls, you'd say 'Oh, my God, what is that thing?' then scream and cut your mic."

In the British sitcom My Hero, the son of George and Janet chooses the name Apollo 11 (or Ollie for short) for himself because "It shows a link between two worlds," his father George being an alien on the show.

In the American animated television series Exosquad, the Able Squad briefly visits Tranquility Base during and after the Battle for the Moon.[2]

The opening scenes of the 1996 movie Independence Day[3] show an alien mothership passing low over the Apollo 11 landing site. The tidal forces of its passing erases the famous bootprint left on the soft lunar surface.

The 2008 animated film Fly Me to the Moon is centered on a fictional story of three flies that stow away on the Saturn V rocket and manage to land on the moon.

Footage of the landing was famously used to introduce viewers to MTV, serving as its top and bottom of the hour ident during the cable channel's early years. MTV producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert used this public domain footage as a conceit, associating MTV with the most famous moment in world television history.[4] MTV also pays tribute to the classic ID by handing out astronaut statuettes (or "Moonmen") at its annual Video Music Awards.

The Apollo 11 landing site is featured in the Futurama episode "The Series Has Landed", with Fry and Leela sheltering from the lunar night in the Apollo 11 lunar module (which, according to a plaque, has been returned there by the "Historical Sticklers Society").

The Apollo 11 mission is used as part of the main story line in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The movie described the mission, indeed the reason for the Apollo program's existence, as a means to investigate a meteor crash on the dark side of the moon, which turns out to be the Ark, the space vessel carrying one of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime. Buzz Aldrin has a brief cameo in the film, playing himself.

The Apollo 11 mission, and more specifically the moment Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon's surface, plays a crucial role in the Doctor Who episode "Day of the Moon". The Doctor is shown altering wiring inside the Command Module on the launch pad, and video of the mission launch is also shown, the purpose being to put a short clip of a post-hypnotic suggestion into the most watched piece of footage in history to help the human race defend themselves from the Silence, 'memory-proof' aliens.

In the 2012 film Men in Black 3, Apollo 11 was used by Agent K to carry the Arc Net (a shield that protects Earth from Alien invasion) to space. The three astronauts see the Men in Black fighting the alien villain from the cockpit, but Aldrin realizes that if they report it over the radio to Mission Control the launch will be aborted and they might never be sent to the Moon. Armstrong nonchalantly responds to Aldrin that "I didn't see anything", and simply doesn't report it. Collins apparently agreed as well. As a result the Men in Black never realized the astronauts saw them and thus never wiped their memories with their neuralizers as is standard protocol, implying that the astronauts always remembered what happened and just never told anyone.

In the 2011-2012 show in the Kamen Rider Series, Kamen Rider Fourze, the Apollo 11 landing plays a crucial role in the flashback of the series antagonist Mitsuaki Gamou as he resolved to become an astronaut and achieve his dream to meet the alien race called the Presenters.

In the Apollo 13 film based off the real mission, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, Fred Haise, Ken Mattingly, Pete Conrad, Marilyn Lovell gather in the Lovell household to watch the moonwalk as Neil Armstrong stepped off onto the surface of the Moon, also, later in the movie, as the crew is about to enter the night side of the Moon, Haise points out that they're passing over the Mare Tranquilatus and he refers to it as "Neil and Buzz's old neighborhood" and shoots some footage of a mountain Lovell had dubbed Mount Marilyn after his wife.

Comic book[edit]

The Apollo Eleven is used as the name of a group of astronauts turned superhero in the Astro City comic book series.[citation needed]

Video games[edit]

In the game Lego Marvel Super Heroes the Human Torch said "That's one small step for man, and one giant climb on a HYDRA rocket" as a reference and joke to Apollo 11.

In the Touhou game Imperishable Night, the character Reisen Udongein Inaba refers to the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon as an "invasion" of the moon.

Folklore[edit]

Soon after the mission a conspiracy theory arose that the landing was a hoax but this notion is widely discounted by historians and scientists. It may have gained more popularity after the movie Capricorn One (1978) portrayed a fictional NASA attempt to fake a landing on Mars.

An urban legend suggests that they were being 'watched' while on the Moon and had seen alien vehicles in space. This grew in popularity after the book Somebody Else Is on the Moon was published.[5] Aldrin did spot an unidentified object travelling relative to them late in the third day of the mission. After learning from Mission Control that it couldn't be the S-IVB stage, since that was 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) away, they concluded that it was most likely one of four panels that had linked the spacecraft and the upper stage.[6] Later popular accounts often described this as a "UFO sighting" or claimed the widely reported incident had been "covered up."

At age 76, astronaut Buzz Aldrin said in a television documentary, "There was something out there, close enough to be observed, and what could it be?... Now, obviously the three of us weren't going to blurt out, 'Hey, Houston, we've got something moving alongside of us and we don't know what it is', you know?... We knew that those transmissions would be heard by all sorts of people and somebody might have demanded we turn back because of aliens or whatever the reason is."[7] They may have seen the Luna 15 spacecraft which the Soviet Union had launched at about the same time as Apollo 11.[8]

There is a humorous and ribald urban legend that when Armstrong was a child, the wife of a neighbour named Gorsky, when asked by her husband to perform oral sex, had ridiculed him by saying "...when the kid next door walks on the moon!" and then decades later whilst walking on the moon Armstrong supposedly said "Good luck Mr. Gorsky". In 1995 Armstrong said he first heard the story in California when comedian Buddy Hackett told it as a joke.[9] This quote has been used in a humorous reference at the opening scene of Watchmen.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Television Obscurities - Apollo 11 Footage Missing". 
  2. ^ Danner, Patrick. "Exosquad episode 2.34 summary". The ExoSquad Universe. Archived from the original on 9 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  3. ^ Independence Day at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ "The 100 Greatest Moments in Rock Music: The '80s". Entertainment Weekly. May 1999. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  5. ^ "Lunaranomalies.com". 
  6. ^ "UFOs and Aliens in Space".  - section 6.40
  7. ^ "Buzz had to fix Moon Lander with Biro". 
  8. ^ "Apollo 11". Modern Marvels. The History Channel.
  9. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara & David P. "Good luck, Mr Gorsky!" at Snopes.com: Urban Legends Reference Pages.
  10. ^ "Watchmen script". script-o-rama.