An upcoming movie about the Apollo 11 mission has found itself in a somewhat bizarre controversy about planting an American flag on the Moon.
First Man, which charts the life of Neil Armstrong leading up to those fateful first steps in 1969, has been lauded by critics. But not everyone is so impressed by the movie, from La La Land director Damien Chazelle, because of its apparent portrayal of the first moonwalk.
The film shows the American flag planted by Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, but it doesn’t show the actual moment it is planted. And that hasn’t gone down well with, surprise surprise, the right-wing corners of the Internet.
On Twitter last week US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the decision to omit this moment was “total lunacy,” adding: “The American people paid for that mission, on rockets built by Americans, with American technology and carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission.”
Last night, Buzz Aldrin himself also took to Twitter, seemingly on the side of the complainants. He posted some historical photos from the mission, along with the hashtag “#proudtobeanAmerican”.
Obviously, the whole thing is rather ridiculous. Leaving aside Armstrong’s first words were literally “one giant leap for mankind,” the flag itself is IN THE FILM. The Daily Beast points out there are “several shots of the American flag flying on the Moon.”
Damien Chazelle has defended the decision to omit the planting of the flag, saying this was just “one of several” moments he left out. Because, you know, movies don’t run for an infinite amount of time.
Most of the anger seems to stem from comments made by Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong in the movie. “I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” he said at the Venice Film Festival last week. “From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite.”
Armstrong’s sons themselves have also responded to the controversy. They told Entertainment Weekly the film was a “personal movie about our dad’s journey,” and noted there were “numerous shots” of the flag on the moon. “In short, we do not feel this movie is anti-American in the slightest,” they said.
And the furor was labeled “nonsense” by Jason Clarke, who plays former astronaut Ed White in the movie. “It's just silly and naive I think,” he said. “Of course it celebrates one of the greatest acts of America and Americans and humanity and mankind.”
Yes, the whole thing is idiotic. All we’re missing now is a Trump tweet, which is surely incoming. Place your bets now.
First Man is released in cinemas on October 12, ahead of next year's 50th anniversary of the historic event. And it looks like it’s pretty great, American flag and all.