April 13th, 2011
07:45 AM ET

Yuri Gagarin, SuperTed and the Case against Space

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A lot of people are going to hate this blog post. To all those people, I’d just like to take a quick moment to say: “Suck it up, haters”. 

Here’s the deal. Some people are lost in space. Some, like me, are lost in space-related conversation. I just don’t get it. I don’t want to get it. I will never get it. 

When most of my colleagues watch the Yuri Gagarin video from five decades ago, they gasp in awe. When I watch it, I struggle not to choke on my own vomit. 

Clearly this was a monumental achievement. But what could possibly persuade a bright young pilot with his whole life ahead of him to board a fiery hell missile into the unknown? An adrenaline rush? The novelty factor? The promise of riches if anything more than his charred Ruskie remains returned to Earth? 

I could give you a scholarly motive for my space hatred. I could chalk it down to my belief that the space race was nothing more than a supremely costly urinating contest. I could cite my incredulity that we ponder our own planet’s problems and seek solutions in the cosmos. But I’d be omitting the root cause. 

The root cause is "SuperTed". Or, more accurately, Texas Pete – the stetsoned super-villain in "SuperTed", a British cartoon that played a formative role in my infanthood. 

Put yourself in the position of a pre-school child with a limited understanding of anything above the clouds. Then watch the episode of SuperTed I’ve attached below. Pay particular attention to the manner in which the episode ends – with our hirsute hero floating feebly in a black abyss. And tell me that THIS doesn’t make the only case we’ll ever need against space.

WATCH – SuperTed: Trouble in Space Part 1

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Filed under: General • News Stream ephemera • Personal musings • Space
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Ally

    Before you ask, no, I'm not about to mount a defence of SuperTed, nor the horror depicted as its eponymous hero floats off into the abyss at the end of the above episode.

    Indeed, as a small child, SuperTed used to send me scurrying behind the sofa or out of the room. My problem? The opening sequence. SuperTed is deemed "imperfect"; he is discarded. If this rejection is not enough, he is then abducted by a spotty alien, taken the clouds and force-fed medicine by an old woman. Enough to terrify any toddler I would have thought.

    Yet, despite this terror, I am one of those News Stream colleagues Nicol refers to above, gasping in awe at Yuri Gagarin's achievements and wishing I could attend a dinner party with John Zarrella and his "Apollo folks".

    Surely the wonder of space cannot be diminshed by SuperTed, whatever floating fate awaited him in the end.

    April 13, 2011 at 9:15 am | Reply
    • Lisa

      Guys, let me provide you a few rrtoeccions here. The occupation and liberation of the town of Gzhatsk and the villages began in October 1941 and ended in April 1943 (i.e. one year earlier than you wrote here). Russian Wiki cites the liberation date to be 9th of April 1943. Misspelling: the city is called Orenburg, not Orenberg. A further detail is that the city had then held the name of Chkalov, after the famous flyer Valery Chkalov, and was only renamed back in 1957. Chkalov was a cult personality and the symbol of Soviet achievements in air flight before the war and just after it, so you can\'t really miss him if you do any literature work around that period. One more misspelling: the dogs were called Chaika and Lisichka (Lisichka means little fox ). I generally advise to survey the Russian space-related sites, starting from Ru-Wiki, as there is a mass of information on all aspects of Soviet space exploration, Gagarin and pre-Gagarin missions. Wish you good luck.

      March 5, 2012 at 4:46 am | Reply
  2. Garry

    You actually got a job with CNN?

    April 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Reply

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