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Don’t believe the hype

As Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson duel each other over who can ride the biggest phallic symbol deepest into space, the existential question is: Who cares?

A mural by Fernandez Graphics of Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the wall of a building Tuesday in Van Horn, Texas.
A mural by Fernandez Graphics of Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the wall of a building Tuesday in Van Horn, Texas.Jacob Ford/Associated Press

Given the choice of watching a bunch of billionaires launch themselves into space or having a root canal performed without the benefit of Novocain, I would gladly choose the latter.

In a world scarred by war, famine, climate change, and a pandemic that hasn’t gone away, I can’t think of anything more useless and utterly ridiculous than creating a service just so rich people can take rocket rides.

It’s hard to decide what’s more offensive: The narcissistic fantasies of people who have more money than sense, or the breathless, fawning coverage by the various TV networks, so desperate for viewers in the middle of summer that they’ll do and say anything to convince you this is a noble, worthwhile endeavor.


Personally, watching self-absorbed nerds like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos duel over who can ride the biggest phallic symbol deepest into space holds all the appeal of watching Oprah “interview” Meghan and Harry again.

What’s that you say? It’s “Sir” Richard?

The only Richard ever deserving of a knighthood was Little Richard, but he’s dead and Branson needs to cop on.

Seriously, I would rather hear what Fred Flintstone has to say about interplanetary travel than a couple of billionaires droning on about the last frontier, like they’re Captain Kirk launching the latest adventure of “Star Trek.”

As the eminent philosopher, Flavor Flav from Public Enemy, put it in “Don’t Believe The Hype,” an apt anthem for this nonsense, “Yo, don’t believe that hype. They got to beaming that pipe, you know what I’m saying? Yo, them Mega’s got ‘em going up to see Captain Kirk, like a jerk and they outta work.”

Flavor Flav is right. Slightly unhinged, yes, but absolutely right.

If these guys had real jobs, instead of empires, they wouldn’t be wasting billions of dollars — and our time — on their flights of fancy.


And besides, that other obscenely rich narcissist, Elon Musk, long ago lapped the field in this race to space story, with reusable craft that at least do something useful: Ferry humans and supplies to the International Space Station.

Why can’t these “look at me” attention seekers with limitless bank accounts just dress up as Jedis and watch old “Star Wars” movies in the million-dollar entertainment rooms of their oversized gated homes, like every other normal forever-adolescent boy?

You have to hand it to them. These guys are marketing geniuses. Coming out of a pandemic, where so much has been lost, they’ve been expert at pumping their own egos while co-opting the world’s biggest media companies into portraying this as some technological marvel.

What’s really happening is that space travel, once the purview of governments, has been privatized and access will go to the highest bidder. Space tourism has replaced space exploration.

To quote Austin Powers, “Yay, capitalism!”

More confirmation, as if any were needed, that this is Amazon’s world. We’re just living in it.

CNN had an interview with Bezos and his “crew” prior to their flight. Bezos, richer than God, sitting there in a blue astronaut’s outfit. He looked like he was about to go out trick or treating. Jayziz, man, grow up.

The rocket trip, coming just days after Branson beat him to the punch and modestly described by Bezos sycophants as “the first human flight” of his new business, lasted about as long as an amusement ride at Canobie Lake Park.


Still, Anderson Cooper was duly impressed. But, then, he and others in his income bracket can afford the tab.

Now, if these entrepreneurs could somehow turn their passion into a worthwhile business, such as offering one-way trips into space for the pathologically obnoxious, that’s something I could get behind.

I’d take out a home equity loan to pay for a one-way trip for Trump. Let him screw up a different solar system for a change.

They could pair Rudy Giuliani with one of those monkeys the Russians used to launch into orbit. Once Rudy and the monkey were in outer space, the TV anchors could watch the video feed and take guesses on who’s the monkey and who’s the, um, other “astronaut.”

I, for one, refuse to participate any longer in this highly irresponsible waste of attention and money.

Instead, later this week, I’ll be watching far more responsible people launch not a space ship but the Summer Olympics.

I mean, really, what could possibly go wrong?

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at kevin.cullen@globe.com.