Channel 4 is blasting a group of adventurers, ordinary members of the public, off into space to spend five days orbiting the earth. It’s thrilling, it’s exciting, and it’s totally bogus. In fact, the cadets will be on a disused military base in Suffolk. Our group of thrill seekers will experience two weeks of intensive astronaut training believing they are in Star City, near Moscow, and labouring under the illusion that they are part of a real space mission. Sound effects have been created to simulate the incredible noise generated by blasting off from the earth. Hydraulics and ‘air biscuits’ will pull, jolt, and vibrate the craft around for authenticity.
Who wouldn’t believe? Watch Space Cadets every night at 9pm and lap up the lie.
No, I’m not watching this – although we did catch the last few minutes of it while waiting for Lost. It seems very cruel and an extreme example of the lowest form of car-crash TV. Going into space is the deepest, most impossible dream for many of us. I wanted desperately to be an astronaut when I was a kid, my nose in a book by Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov; I still dream of it. I would probably go even if you told me that I would die upon re-entry…I want it that badly. Can you imagine (seemly) acheiving this dream, only to get back and be told that the entire nation had been watching you make a prat of yourself for a week? How soul-destroying would that be?
As I said, we watched the end of the first show, when they were boarding the plane to “Russia”. Everyone chosen looked a bit like a loser: chubby or dorky or whatever, no pretty people to been seen. This wasn’t a heart-warming affirmation about how normal people can be chosen for TV…this felt like people chosen to be the class outcast. (You remember, the fat, spotty one with glasses that everyone made fun of. You didn’t, of course; you may even have said something like “Stop, you guys are being assholes” but underneath you understood why that kid had been singled out. It’s “them” and “us”, and we all know which side of the divide we fall on.) These people have that same vibe – and so the creators of the show hope it will be funny, rather than the cringe-making offense that it actually is. These people were chosen deliberately because they had that prey vibe, that I-was-bullied-in-school-and-its-still-happening vibe.
Nasty stuff. It’s not big and it’s not clever, as they say around here.