Saturday, May 9, 2020

Spaceship Earth (film)

Florian Schneider Lives
DID YOU KNOW ..? You can watch first-run art house films, streaming courtesy of your friends at Cleveland Cinemas. (This is not a paid advertisement, support your local businesses.)

Last night we watched Spaceship Earth, a new documentary directed by Matt Wolf, about Biosphere 2, its origins, what went wrong, and what didn’t.

For those too young to remember, or are only aware of the Pauly Shore flick, Biosphere 2 is a minor footnote in 90s history, like the Hale-Bopp comet, or Pauly Shore. It was an enclosed environment in the Arizona desert, and eight individuals sealed themselves inside for two years to see how well they could survive.

My wife and I were trying to remember the details. Didn’t they abort the mission? Didn’t they “cheat” somehow? We remembered them going in (it was in September 1991) but didn’t remember them coming out.

A great deal of the film is dedicated to the foundations of the project which go back to the 1960s. A band of surprisingly capable and intelligent back-to-the-earth people, led by a charismatic if somewhat odd leader, practice avante garde theatre, and teach themselves how to live sustainably, on the earth, and then on the sea. It is a remarkable American story.

By the 1990s, the world had changed and with media attention their greatest experiment, and the personalities of those involved, were picked apart and exposed as less-than-science. This is why people like us, who were only casually paying attention, were left with the impression that it was a failure. Biosphere 2 is a punchline, like Pauly Shore.

But the film’s sincere portrayal of the the founders of the experiment, and what happened to them is what I found most relevant. We have been fighting the same battles since the 1960s; those who are exploring new belief systems and new ways of doing things, against those who just hate those people, and seek dominance, control, profit, and adherence to the dominant paradigm.

This fucking guy.
In this case, ageing hippies built a very sophisticated terrarium, and when their work was complete, Steve Bannon stepped in, kicked everyone to the curb and seold the science to the highest bidder.

Yes, that Steve Bannon. It’s a real what-the-fuck moment. Just watch the movie. What’s amazing to me is that it is impossible to watch, listen to, or read anything today without seeing just how everything that has ever happened has led to this current moment. Baby Boomers have been waging an inter-generational civil war for almost sixty years, the idealistic innovators vs. the aggrieved demagogues, and have destroyed the nation in the process.

“Spaceship Earth” was released May 8, 2020.

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