“Semper Supra” reads like a list of currencies, as POLITICO’s Steve Heuser tweeted. Military.com served the final verdict on the anthem: “It’s not a firecracker.” But the anthem isn’t Space Force’s most laughable mistake. Earlier, the force is exaggerated the uniforms were compared to something out of Battlestar Galactica wardrobe. The branch “delta” emblem and flag were (unfairly) denounced as star trek scams (turns out the Starfleet Command insignia was inspired by historical military markings, not the other way around). The name applied to members of the Space Force, “Guardians”, was mocked from all corners when then-Vice President Mike Pence announced it, especially from guardians of the galaxy Fans. “Pence might as well have gone ahead and made the Space Force motto ‘I am Groot’, wrote The Wrap’s Andrea Towers. The name could have been even worse, as POLITICO’s reject report proves.
Space Force Headquarters’ green must be trapped with thousands of lawn rakes, as branch decision makers seem to step on one every six months. The idea of a space-oriented military branch isn’t inherently silly, so why did the organization’s deployment feel like a mix of groundhog day and the deployment of New Coke?
Some of the blame can be placed on Trump, who tainted the brand with his tainted image when his announcement spawned a military organization whose foundation had been in the works for some time. Trump admits that the first time he proposed Space Force to his White House staff, he was joking. Soon he decided the force should be real, but it was welcomed by almost everyone because of his associations with Trump. It didn’t help Space Force’s branding that Trump bragged about it as if it was the equivalent of a space-based Ivanka, talked about it in his fundraising letters and sold unofficial Space Force merchandising to his supporters during the 2020 campaign.
But not everything can be blamed on our beleaguered ex-president. Thanks to a century of sci-fi movies, space is pre-marked as a fantastical place where fictional Wookiees, pointy-eared humanoids, and star-eating monsters reside. For every child who can identify Neil Armstrong, there are a thousand who can tell you who James Kirk is and how he grew up. This is one of the reasons why Jeff Bezos inflamed phallus became an object of ridicule, which Elon Musk had to endure until his Falcon 9 has become a remarkably reliable space cargo carrier. Even so, people still laugh at Musk whenever he talks about a manned mission to Mars, which despite its and NASA’s successes, we still see as a place of fiction and weird creatures and not a place for real people.
Space, when not shrouded in NASA’s sheath or viewed through a telescope, begins as a punchline. That is why Steve Carell’s Netflix Series space force received the green light. People start laughing the minute you say the words “Space Force,” so why not make a sitcom out of it? Mel Brooks was the first to appreciate the hilarity of space with space ballshis 1987 send-off of Star Wars. Space is a found joke.
Space Force command seems to have realized that it stands on a thin line between laughingstock and gravitas, and anything it says or does can be mocked. That’s why, when the Pentagon proposed that the Space Force take over responsibility for UFO monitoring (or UAPs in modern parlance), the branch leaned in, knowing it would be taken less seriously if assigned to watch flying saucers.
What, if anything, can Space Force do to combat its permanent gag status? Are they waging an unwinnable war? Many people take it seriously, according to recruiting figures, with more than 42,000 people learning about approximately 500 open positions. Maybe nothing can be done. The Space Force finds itself in a place similar to that of Sen. William Scott (R-Va.) who, in 1974, was named in a new times cover story by then correspondent Nina Totenberg as dumbest member of Congress. He stupidly called a press conference to retaliate, but it only resulted in this Washington Post headline: “Scott denies he’s ‘the dumbest’.”
Instead of directly combating the derision, Space Force would be wiser to assume its role as branch jester and overdo it. There’s nothing less funny than the guy asking you to laugh at his jokes. Suggested new motto: “Space Force: We’re funny as shit”.
2001: A Space Odyssey did everything the Space Force set out to do, only better. Send your favorite space odyssey lines to [email protected]. No new email alert subscriptions are honored at this time. My Twitter the power supply is fattier than the Van Allen belt. My RSS food is a black hole. Nothing that goes in there ever comes out.