‘Countdown: The Space Mission Inspiration4’: Elon Musk plays the self-promotion with a documentary experiment on Netflix called for controversy
Camouflaged with very, very little documentary subtlety about Elon Musk’s latest space conquest project, This curious Netflix program has been arousing controversy since its arrival on the platform. Some of its critics claim, like this review from ‘The Guardian’, that propaganda exercises of this caliber should not be allowed on a paid platform. And they are right.
We live in times when it is very complicated draw the line between what is self-promotion, what is paid advertising, and what is genuine documentary interest. In this case, the reason is very clear: Elon Musk’s space travel experiments, regardless of their intentions and results, deserve to be observed and documented. Much more if, despite whoever it may be, the concept of the trip is based on a pioneering intention.
In this case, Inspiration4 is the first mission to be manned entirely by civilians. In fact, Already the documentary raises doubts that the trip can generate when Musk is interviewed at the beginning of the first episode: Are criticisms of millionaires hell-bent on traveling into space reasonable (in search of some objectivity, the documentary lists the cases of Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Musk himself) when we have so much trouble on our planet? Musk does not hesitate to answer that all our resources should be directed to fixing the situation on Earth, but with the remaining 1% of the wealth … or in other words, “with my money I do what I want.”
But leaving Apart from the obvious propaganda nature of the project that the documentary has, is what it shows interesting? Most of the time, yes, and Netflix has taken the opportunity to raise it with an extra attraction: it is the first documentary in near real time, and it will be developed, in theory, as the space mission progresses.
Two chapters … for now
Thus the first two episodes, available now on Netflix, are a chronicle of the preambles to the mission, with the election of the crew, four civilians peculiarly chosen (and in a sense debatable, but as Musk recalls … it’s his money). They are the millionaire addicted to risk Jared Isaacman, a young woman who overcame childhood cancer, the winner of a raffle among all those who made a donation to a hospital and an artist who managed to viralize a video on Twitter to qualify for the fourth seat.
These first two chapters oscillate between the tearful chronicle, for the viewer to verify that these four crew members are very, very human, and the genuinely interesting part, not always for the reasons that Musk intends. Multiple members of SpaceX speak to the camera telling the future plans of the company, which seeks a “multiplanetary” humanity: the curious dreams of transcendence are mixed with the galactic ambition of the two billionaires portrayed and the almost ground-level poetry dreams of the rebounding civilians involved in the project. The documentary makes a very curious and fascinating mosaic of personalities that perhaps is a trustworthy snapshot of the future of space travel.
All this will be broadcast by Netflix with an unusual cadence: two episodes now, another two within a week portraying the physical and psychological preparation that these novice astronauts have had to follow. On September 15, Inspiration4 will take off, which can be followed live on the Netflix YouTube channel. And on September 30, a fifth and final chapter analyzing the results of the mission. A singular structure for an experiment that borders on transmedia.
Though the documentary sometimes dives into a mere catalog of SpaceX’s transhumanist achievements, ‘Countdown: The Inspiration4 Space Mission’ certainly has items to spare for the casual viewer interested in space travel, analyzed from an affordable and simple perspective. Explain, for example, why Inspiration4 is going to orbit the Earth at a further distance than usual. If we can overlook that the documentary whitewashes things like Jared bought his seat, it’s an effective first look at a mission that could change aerospace travel … albeit from a business standpoint.