Space Cadets

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.

8 thoughts on “Space Cadets”

  1. Upon hearing the first adverts for this tripe, I said to something like ‘What the fuck?!’ I actually didn’t expect them to choose the ‘victim’ type. I totally expected them to choose attractive but dim folk who would benefit from some telly exposure. Now after reading your little review, I’m even more affronted that this is being allowed on our idiot boxes. You’re totally right. One day one of these ‘losers’ will react very badly indeed and commit suicide… I wonder if anyone will object to it? Will it then be stopped or will anyone even effing notice?!

    Bastards. It seems the equivalent of televised bullying. Isn’t bullying supposed to be bad and frowned upon in this culture?! BASTARDS!

  2. Exactly – it felt just like bullying. If they chose people that you would be sympathetic towards, it would be too uncomfortable to watch. As I admitted, though, I didn’t actually watch it until the end…that is just the immediate impression that I got: these people were chosen to be victims. It felt nasty and shabby.

  3. wandringsoul

    There’s apost about this on LJ UK, I’d commented much the same as above, that peoples dreams are at stake, but someone else mused that perhaps ALL of the contestants are actors, not just one or two, and that the joke’s really on us?

    Could be, but then, could be real – tough call, either way I won’t watch it on principle…

  4. I went to look at the Channel4 website after this, and the list of candidates doesn’t really fit with Everyone chosen looked a bit like a loser: chubby or dorky or whatever, no pretty people to been seen.

    Maybe the writeups are incorrect?

    Anyway, I can’t be bothered watching this, for many of the reasons you mention. There’s a debate on the C4 forum about maybe it’s a double bluff – the ones being hoaxed are the viewers, but I can’t see it. Instead, I think it’s just cruel television.

  5. lol…I went and looked, and those are good pics. Seriously, we sat there watching them get on the plane, and they were all pretty dorky. Phil commented “a lot of them are too heavy to go into space – surely they know they can’t be seriously considered for this”. That’s part of the reason why it seemed so cruel to me.

  6. Fair enough – from the site, they look like they’re treating them seriously. I guess not.

    Some of them are going to be heartbroken.

  7. We watched it all, I did not think any of them looked like losers. I live my life surrounded by academics and geeks so maybe I am just used to it :) The other thing is when they signed up it was to be on TV, they did not know what for until the last minute. All of them were just desperate to be on TV. I’m going to watch it to see how quickly they rumble it, would not suprise me if some of them have and they are keeping quiet to get their 5 minutes.

  8. I’d heard that, actually – that they didn’t know what type of reality show it was going to be until the last minute. That’s not so bad, I guess – that makes them just people who wanted to be on TV, rather than people who had a dream of being in space. Ah, well, it was fun ranting. :)

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