Today, NASA published a video to one of its YouTube channels called "Can You See It?" (You can see it above.) The video appears to be aimed at inspiring young students to explore the fields of science, technology, math, and engineering, as well as encouraging them to believe in themselves.
That's great! Kids should be encouraged to do all those sorts of things, and feel empowered to pursue them. But the video NASA released is unbelievably starry-eyed in the face of how weird it is. It features a teleporting astronaut that leads the kids around, clips from a Barack Obama speech, and is for some reason apparently staged in a Dave & Buster's. It's the kind of video that gnaws on your consciousness until you just have to throw your arms up and talk it out with some of your co-workers.
Let's do this.
Sean O'Kane: I have one simple question that will probably result in a very complicated response — what in the universe is going on here?
Loren Grush: I’m assuming these kids are in a futuristic version of Dave & Buster's? And they are being serenaded by a man who wants them to follow their dreams… and follow him back into the 1980s and the age of synthpop.
Kaitlyn Tiffany: I would just like to say that everything happening here is fine, perfectly fine. Being stalked on Earth by an astronaut who never takes his helmet off is normal and an important part of coming of age.
Being stalked on Earth by an astronaut who never takes his helmet off is normal and an important part of coming of age
Loren: The introduction of the astronaut is probably my favorite part. She (definitely a she) teleports into D&B via Star Trek Original Trilogy transport technology and proceeds to high five everyone. There is also foley for every singe high five for emphasis.
Sean: Yeah, the production value is clearly incredible. It’s got everything I would imagine being able to afford on a government budget, like strange special effects (!), WordArt (!!), and video clips of Barack Obama sourced from the public domain (!!!).
Loren: We also get cuts of the fun launch animations NASA cooks up to visualize its missions, as well as video of capsule landings, astronauts munching on space veggies, and welding! It’s actually a pretty great video summary of what NASA has done recently, and all the things they want to accomplish over the next decade. With the added bonus of enthusiastic children playing Asteroid.
Kaitlyn: Based on unbridled enthusiasm and acquiescence to close-ups I would say the singer, Carlton Blount, is experiencing a career high point. That’s a plus for me, as an audience member. He’s really happy to be alive, and to be singing.
Sean: I’m totally not spending part of my work day Googling Carlton Blount’s career. I am definitely not listening to this soul / funk track he recorded called "Just Keep On Lovin’ Me." I am most certainly not *internally screaming* at the fact that he has an album called (From) A Man’s Point Of View.
Kaitlyn: Not to discount Mr. Blount, but this does seem like an objective step down from the last vocal stylists that NASA wrangled up to encourage interest in space travel. In terms of the differential ability to command 336 million views of something.
This does seem like an objective step down from One Direction
Sean: Let’s be real. NASA should have locked up One Direction during that video shoot and never let them go until they recorded every possible promotional video under the sun. Instead, the agency is left trying to appeal to kids with this video, which feels like a mashup of "Friday" and "Chocolate Rain."
Kaitlyn: As a teen, I don’t feel pandered to, I just feel vaguely nervous that I’m actually in this video somewhere. I did spend a lot of time at roller skating rinks in the late 1990s. Anyway, from what I understand, if you’re good at playing arcade games, you are literally already an astronaut. Correct?
Sean: NASA is currently accepting astronaut applications so, yes, maybe they have new requirements they’re not telling us about.
Loren: Also is anyone else deathly afraid of attending this video arcade? Out of nowhere, one of NASA’s test airplanes appears above the air hockey table and crash lands onto the game. And during your average crane game, the crane turns into NASA’s redirect mission and grabs an asteroid. I think I’ll take the plush hippo instead.
Sean: You know, none of this really matters if people love the song. I think it’s time we submit it to The Verge’s expert on bangers, Jamieson Cox. Jamieson — is this new promotional video from NASA a banger?
This isn’t a banger, but it’s one quality club remix away
Jamieson: *Extremely Stefon voice.* This video has everything: presidential voice samples, chiptune synths, a middle-aged man playing house diva. *Claps hands over mouth.* This isn’t a banger, but it’s one quality club remix away.
Sean: There you have it. I think we all should pick our favorite lyric and then get back to work. I think mine’s: "Gonna be an epic team / On NASA's space machine." Or: "With your massive aptitude / What are you thinking, dude?"
Loren: I think I’ll make a poem of all the words that flash across the screen:
My teachers said to me
Be all you want to be
Until I touch the sky
Can you see it?
y=a(x-h)^2 + k
Can you feel it?
Can you see a career at NASA?
Kaitlyn: "FIND A ROCKET, LET IT GO." Awesome advice! Maybe that’s what I’ll do after work today.