Why celebrities go to space and what it means for our future Arts

Humans have long dreamed of going to space, and now the rich and famous can buy the chance to make that vision a reality. Celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo Dicaprio and James Cameron have all bought tickets to fly on an upcoming space flight. A few weeks ago, “Star Trek” actor and pop culture icon William Shatner became the oldest man to travel in space with Jeff Bezos and his aerospace company Blue Origin. Others, like Billie Eilish, have expressed a desire to literally do something else.

This new ‘space craze’ began in 2013 when Richard Branson, CEO of spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, announced he was selling seats for a suborbital flight that would take his guests 50 miles into the atmosphere. terrestrial to the ends of space, all in a matter of minutes. Ticket prices quickly climbed to $ 200,000, with a list of star-studded flights of famous actors, musicians and billionaires among the first to book their seats. Jeff Bezos’ space mission for the wealthy clients took place aboard the ship New Shepard, which took off just weeks ago with Shatner and several other crew members. The two businessmen obviously predicted the potential boom in space tourism as an industry financed by the ultra-rich. With the one percent already able to satisfy their every whim, who can’t say they can’t go to space too?

Some celebrities have chosen to buy tickets for reasons related to the production of their art. Singer and pop star Lady Gaga intends to be the first person to sing in space, and a source told Us Weekly that she plans to take a month-long vocal training to prepare for this. strange experience. His fellow pop singer and ticket holder Justin Bieber even raised the possibility of filming a clip in space.

The idea of ​​capitalizing on the allure of space to boost an artist’s image and connect with his audience in a new way can be seen as a bold and brilliant public relations movement. After all, many people have dreamed of going to space one way or another, and the prevalence of space-related content in media cannot be underestimated. William Shatner himself has appeared on TV screens for decades, crossing the “last frontier” as iconic Captain Kirk before traveling into real space for a few minutes. Recent content from pop culture trends has also capitalized on the allure of space, from Disney’s + space epic “The Mandalorian” to Dua Lipa’s galaxy-themed song “Levitating”.

Frankly, the idea of ​​a music video or a live performance in space is weird, if not totally extravagant and over the top. But maybe these artists are rightly pushing the boundaries of how they mark society and pop culture by leaping head-on into the starry abyss. Have we not given them the role of artist, creator, innovator and storyteller of human experience through our collective investment in their art? It might not be that bad that they are looking for something totally bigger than them.

Other celebrities have admitted that they want to go to space just to satisfy a personal whim. According to a source, Rihanna told the Hamilton Spectator that she “has been obsessed with space since she was a child, so it would be a dream come true for her” to travel via the Branson rocket.

Pop star Katy Perry also bought tickets for her husband Russell Brand and herself on the Virgin Galactic flight. In an interview with MTV News, she said, “I’m so into alien stuff… It’s very hard for me to look up to the sky in the middle of the night and not think our planet is one of the … bajillion His fascination with the mystique of space mirrors that of many, even though for most of history we have been anchored within the limits of our technology.

With space becoming relatively more accessible to those who can afford it, the space tourism industry is likely to experience a meteoric rise. If we are determined to go to space, why not invest more money in research, perhaps to send astronauts on scientific missions or rovers to probe the depths of our solar system? Many rocket launches also come at the expense of the climate, so it may also be safer to focus on addressing these issues on land.

Branson and Bezos, both titans of the space industry, have instead invested huge amounts of their resources in luxury commercial space flights, giving the wealthy the chance to participate in a profound experience that is inaccessible to most. Space may be considered worthy of great exploration, but it is questionable whether commodifying space travel as a commodity only available to the ultra-rich belittles our collective interaction with this final frontier.

After returning from his microgravity stint aboard the New Shepard Rocket, Shatner offered some initial thoughts and impressions. He described his own experience as moving, extraordinary and unforgettable, and his words speak of that mystique of space that has captured the imaginations of so many and pushed humanity to reach this next frontier.

In a video of Shatner outside the capsule, he is apparently overcome with emotion, struggling to speak as his eyes are filled with tears. “Everyone in the world has to do it. Everyone needs to see. It was amazing, ”he says in the video. “I have experienced something so moving about life and death, the destruction of the planet and the value of everything I am connected with.” What he failed to mention is how his own flight – and space tourism in general – could contribute to this destruction.

It’s unfortunate that most of humanity is probably unable to witness this moving experience, but even though Shatner’s words may seem out of touch in this regard, his message is still one we can learn from. Rather, the wonder of space that is so well captured by Shatner’s words may serve to fuel our interest in exploring this last great frontier.

The idea of ​​experiencing the Absolute of space can be a deeply deep and wonderful thing. Yet it is hard to ignore the feeling that our energy and resources should first and foremost be devoted to the potentially more useful pursuits of research and the fulfillment of more urgent earthly needs. The wonder of space that shaped Shatner’s experiments and the vision of other artists should be used to fund important research rather than indulge in the delights of the rich. However, the ultra-rich have always been able to soar above the rest of us, and perhaps they can still offer us significant lessons from their microgravity journeys. As storytellers and art creators who speak the truth to the human experience, these celebrities can allow our interest in space to flourish by conveying its wonders through words and music.

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