by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Film”

Lessons I Have Learned From Watching "Project Moonbase"

Posted 8 June 2011 in by Catriona

Last night, Nick and I watched the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode covering Project Moonbase, the 1953 film based on a short story by Robert Heinlein.

And, honestly, of all the many, many bad films we’ve watched in the course of our MST3K obsession, this was one of the less rubbish ones. They actually had some nice zero-gee effects, and Nick was delighted with the “Please Do Not Walk on the Walls” signs slathered all over the space station.

But the most important thing about the film was the important lessons it taught me about life in the distant future (1970, to be exact).

1. I really don’t like Heinlein, even when he’s being adapted by someone else.

2. Nick takes an odd delight in Heinlein. All through the film, he kept saying, “This is so Heinlein it’s killing me”. He also recommended that an enemy spy be thrown out an airlock, “because that’s what Heinlein would do” (and was immediately delighted when the second-in-command said, “Well, I could throw him out an airlock”).

3. Couples don’t have to agree on the value of Robert Heinlein to have a successful relationship.

4. In the future (1970), women will be allowed to have roles of supreme importance, like spaceship pilot (rank of colonel) or President of the United States of America.

5. Women in positions of power get uppity, so you need to balance gender equality in theory with extreme misogyny in practice. Therefore, women in power should be described to their subordinates as “spoiled brats” and, if necessary, be threatened with spanking by their superior officers. (No, really. This actually happened.)

6. Women should also have a good sense of their own weaknesses so that if, for example, they’re trapped on the dark side of the moon with no hope of rescue, they can offer an adequate apology for their behaviour. Something like “Sorry for coming over all female, Major” should do the trick.

7. All the above holds true even if the woman is a highly decorated Air-Force officer, the first pilot to achieve orbital flight, and the first pilot to successfully land a manned craft on the moon.

8. In fact, if she is the first pilot to achieve orbital flight, it’s probably due to tokenism. You should definitely tell her subordinates that, just before a vital mission. That won’t affect her authority, at all.

9. “Briteis” is a really stupid name for a woman, because no matter how much you emphasise that it’s pronounced Bry-TIES, people will still just call you “Bright Eyes.”

10. It’s important, if you wish to achieve orbit, that the weight in the cabin be minimised as far as possible. The first thing to go? All that unnecessary weight on your trousers. Hot pants for all!

11. If you end up having to make a forced landing on the moon, you might end up becoming a de facto moonbase. And if it’s just you and your co-pilot, and you’re different genders, NASA might make you marry each other, to stop the press writing scurrilous tales about the lax morals in the Air Force. Goodness knows what they’d make you do if you were the same gender …

12. An excellent wedding-present for your new husband is the rank of Brigadier General. Never mind that he’s only a major at present: you need to skip him up a good few ranks so that he safely outranks you. Nice gender politics there, Colonel Bright Eyes.

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