With this year being the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 manned moon landing, it’s not surprising that movies about astronauts are coming out. First Man, a biopic about Neil Armstrong being the first man on the moon, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August 2018 and went into general release in October 2018. First Man was a controversial movie because conservative politicians claimed that it didn’t show the astronauts planting the American flag on the moon. Never mind that the movie had plenty of flags, and the flag planting scene wasn’t relevant to the inner space of Neil Armstrong as an astronaut, husband and father. Another astronaut movie, Lucy in The Sky, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this year, and coming out in general release this month. Although the movie poster features the moon looming large in the background, the moon has nothing to do with the real-life event of a female astronaut losing her POOP on earth. While this made-for-TV movie is loosely based on the “astronaut love triangle” of 2007, the diaper scene was left on the cutting room floor.
Before I deep dive into Lucy In The Sky, I personally haven’t seen the movie and I might not see it in the theaters when it becomes available in Silicon Valley. My opinion of the movie is based on the trailer, Tyler Wolff’s long review video and Amanda The Jedi’s short review video on YouTube.
Here’s a simplified overview of the “astronaut love triangle” that took place in 2007.
- Astronaut Lisa Nowak cheated on her husband to be with Astronaut Bill Oefelein, who cheated on his wife and separated from her. That relationship went on for two years while they were training for separate space shuttle missions in 2006.
- After Lisa separated from her husband, she discovers that Bill cheated on her for a younger woman, Astronaut Trainee Colleen Shipman.
- Lisa drove 14 hours and 950 miles from Houston to Orlando in adult diapers to pepper spray Colleen in an airport parking lot to scare her away from Bill.
- Lisa and Bill became the first astronauts ever dismissed from NASA for bad personal behavior.
- Lisa pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, got a light sentence from the court and a dishonorable discharge from the Navy, and lived a quiet life with her kids in Arizona.
- Bill retired from the Navy and married Colleen, who never finished astronaut training and left the Air Force, to raise a family in Alaska.
The media loved this story because it had astronauts, adult diapers and an old-fashioned love triangle. Texas Monthly did an excellent article called “Lust In Space” that put the love triangle in the context of NASA falling apart as an organization. What happened in 2007 took place almost four years to the day that the space shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry in 2003 and four years before the space shuttle program came to an end in 2011. When an organization has an uncertain future, people inside the organization can sometimes behave badly in response.
Lucy In The Sky tells a similar story with some differences. Lucy, played by Natalie Portman, seems distracted, maybe even lost in space, while on a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station, and later when coming home on the space shuttle. When she’s unable to get assign to the Orion space program that replaces the space shuttle program, she finds herself earthbound and her personal life falling apart. The inevitable love triangle happens, and the drive halfway across the country took place without diapers.
Director Noah Hawley commented about omitting the adult diapers from the movie in an interview with CinemaBlend . I split up his comment into two parts to address each part separately.
I found it interesting that response, people who said, ‘There’s no diaper and I’m not OK with that.’ I thought it said more about them really; what is it that makes you want that detail, that makes you want to reduce her to a punch line again?Director Noah Hawley, CinemaBlend
Astronauts wear adult diapers while undergoing hours-long activities such as launch, spacewalks, and re-entry. A small detail you don’t hear about unless you’re familiar with the manned space program. As Chris Hadfield pointed out at Silicon Valley Comic 2019, astronauts feel all 40 million horsepower kicking behind them when the space shuttle launches into space. Launch is probably when most astronauts lose their POOP in space. The first thing that astronauts to do after the shuttle reaches orbit is to change out of their flight suits and clean up. The omission of the diapers from Lucy In The Sky would be like omitting not only the flag planting scene on the moon but all the flags from First Man.
The goal of the film is to rehumanize her and to build empathy for her, to show you that she had an emotional and existential crisis and that’s part of becoming an adult.Director Noah Hawley, CinemaBlend
Lisa was 44 years old when she had an adulterous relationship with Bill for two years, separated from her husband after 18 years of marriage, and put on adult diapers to scare off her rival. Most people are already an adult by the time they reach their mid-40s. The existential crisis that Lisa experienced is more commonly called a midlife crisis. The rationale for making this movie based on a scandal and leaving out a key detail doesn’t make sense.
Natalie Portman is probably why Lucy In The Sky doesn’t have a diaper scene. She commented about the diaper controversy in an interview with The New York Times.
It seems to be a symptom of clickbait culture that getting my name and diaper in the same sentence is probably helpful for journalists.Natalie Portman, The New York Times
She has a long history of using body doubles for difficult scenes in her movies that sometimes inspire a lot of click-bait articles. Many fans loved seeing her in a thong in Your Highness, but later discovered that the director hired a local girl to make that thong look so sexy. She won an Oscar award for best actress in Black Swan, but her body double for the ballerina dance scenes did all the work and didn’t get recognition much less an Oscar for her performance. If there was a diaper scene in Lucy In The Sky, a body double would have made that diaper look very sexy indeed.
My problem with Lucy In The Sky boils down to this. During the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 manned moon landing, we got a made-for-TV movie from a TV director about a female astronaut who lost her POOP on earth. Why couldn’t it have been about Anna Lee Fisher who became the first American female astronaut in 1979 and the first American mom in space in 1984? Sally Ride being the first American female astronaut in space in 1983? Or Dr. Mae C. Jemison being first American black female astronaut in space in 1992?
What we got instead was a movie about the first female astronaut dismissed from NASA.