The Obama Administration finally took some time away from less important matters and responded to the people’s call for the creation of a Death Star:
The official White House response to a petition to secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016:
By Paul Shawcross
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
- The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
- The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
- Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky—that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts—American, Russian, and Canadian—living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs—one wielding a laser—roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo—and soon, crew—to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget
Since this is unquestionably the best response to any petition we can ever hope to receive, can we all agree to stop using that online petition website now?
(Some spoilers below.)
At no point does Lawson say that the movie is missing a depiction of maleness or male relationships. Instead, he make the (valid) argument that of the infinite the story lines available, Pixar chose one of the flattest, easiest, and most conventionally feminine, one that Lawson rightly summarizes as, “She’s just a girl who doesn’t want to get married? She’s a girl who rejects girl things and is thus a hero? (Because girl things are silly, whereas swords and arrows are totally cool, period.)” And oh, by the way, she doesn’t get along with her mother and turns her into a beast—teenage girls, amiright?
There is no larger theme of mortality (Toy Story), loss and grief (Up), humanity (Wall•E). There isn’t even anything all that new about Pixar’s take on mother-daughter relationships: they fight, Merida runs away from home, uses magic to punish her mother, instantly regrets this, and comes around when she’s forcefully reminded that she’s still just a girl who needs to be protected from the scary, wild world.
Beyond that, I was uncomfortable during the scenes with Merida and her mother-as-bear, because though I knew the point was to laugh (and to marvel at the truly impressive animation), I realized later that I don’t need yet another opportunity to find humor in the literal dehumanization of a woman, and I don’t need yet another example of a woman who is supposedly better off for having been forcibly changed.
To date, Pixar has released thirteen movies. Its first twelve featured male protagonists, a problem in and of itself, which is why Brave was so damn exciting. (I teared up every time I saw a preview because…Brave!) But ultimately, what sets Brave apart from those first twelve movies is not that its protagonist happens to be a girl, but that its protagonist must be a girl. Woody, Carl, Wall-E, and the rest: the gender of these characters could be swapped without significantly changing the stories and themes of their movies, but Merida must be female, because only women are expected to choose between rejecting traditional gender roles and keeping the kingdom safe, and it breaks my heart that this is the only story Pixar could think to tell about a teenage girl.
TL;DR: Where’s my “Define Dancing” moment of Pixar magic? The closest Brave gets is that one brief but beautiful scene in which Merida takes a day off from being a princess and rides through the woods, practicing archery and eventually climbing the falls, looking for just a minute like everything I’d hoped she and her movie would be.
I enjoyed the movie, and more so its music, but I also wasn’t captivated by it like I was the Toy Story movies, Up, Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Wall-E. I agree with the common criticism of the movie, many of the story beats felt typical Disney, and not a good way but in the it has been done a dozen times sort of way.
The following quote from above is an excellent point and not one I thought about until I read it.
“I don’t need yet another opportunity to find humor in the literal dehumanization of a woman, and I don’t need yet another example of a woman who is supposedly better off for having been forcibly changed.”
For shame, Hollywood.
I love, love, love movies, but there is a lot about Hollywood business that infuriates me.
Really, Hollywood? 3 BIG MAMA’S HOUSE MOVIES ARE OKAY BUT NOT THIS?
To summarize, Eddie Murphy grossing oodles of money as a successful director, producer, writer, and actor in films featuring him as a doctor, a veterinarian, a dedicated father, and the voice of a beloved donkey in the second highest-grossing animated film of all time is considered some sort of failure, but playing a jive talking felon is redemption. Huh?
There are many ways to interpret this — that Hollywood and movie critics (and many in society) are more comfortable with black actors playing damaging, stereotypical roles involving criminality, violence, and deviance (remember back in 2002 when Denzel Washington finally won the Oscar for playing a crooked cop?); that male actors are failures if they appear in family-friendly movies, regardless of how economically successful these movies may be; that to be considered successful, male actors have to appear in movies geared towards male audiences.