Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why there's a Chinese space station in "Gravity"

Yes, there's a Chinese space station in gravity, complete with an escape pod that figures in the story.

Every other structure that movie has in space, orbiting around Earth, is really up there. Maybe not exactly where the movie puts them, but up there nonetheless.

Except for that Chinese space station. No such, and none will be for quite a while. They have a little cargo vessel in orbit that they call a space station, but it doesn't even have a bathroom. It's a placemark, basically, with a pressurized interior equivalent to a cube 8 ft. x 8 ft. x 8 ft.

So what's the full-fledged Chinese nonexistent space station in Gravity doing there? The story doesn't require a Chinese space station per se.

Here's why: Gravity is going to sell  a ton of theater tickets in China, which has an urban population at least as big as America has. And you don't get to show films in China unless China's nominally Communist oligarchs greenlight them, with a max for big Hollywood films of 34 a year.

But now, courtesy of that marvel of nonexistent Chinese ingenuity and tech savvy, you can be assured that Gravity will be on the Chinese gravy train.

Especially since the Chinese act of orbital vandalism--blowing up one of their satellites, creating a cloud of dangerous space junk--is attributed instead to the Russians in Gravity. Wouldn't do to mention something bad the Chinese have done in space.

You can be assured that every Hollywood blockbuster you see going forward will incorporate some paen to those wonderful, wonderful Chinese people/government/culture/technology. No more Chinese bad guys--they can now be Russian, since the Russian moviegoing public is a fraction of China's (and Russia doesn't limit the number of American films that can be shown there).

"Product placement" used to mean the hero drives a Ford or uses an Apple laptop. Now the idea has expanded to include whole countries.


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