Jul 07 2016

Kubrick and the Moon Landing Hoax Conspiracy

One of the silliest grand conspiracy theories is that the US faked the Apollo moon landings. Moon landing hoaxers engage in a combination of anomaly hunting and the argument from personal incredulity or ignorance. They engage in an elaborate exercise in JAQing off (just asking questions), like, “why are there no stars in the background of pictures,” and “why does the flag wave if there is no air?”

They have no positive evidence for a conspiracy, just a wild theory and completely unimpressive anomalies that have all been easily and adequately explained. They also ignore gaping holes in their theory. How could NASA maintain this 50-year cover up when scientists around the world, including in competitor nations, could easily reveal it?

Some moon hoaxers engage in a related theory, that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was the one who filmed the fake moon landing footage for NASA. It is not uncommon for such theories to aggregate around famous people. Otherwise it is not clear why they would chose Kubrick and not a struggling director desperate for cash who could be conveniently eliminated when the task was done.

Recently, Kubrick’s daughter, Vivian Kubrick, lashed out at moon hoaxers, who have been apparently harassing her with their theories about her father. She wrote an open letter in which she states:

My father’s artistic works are his unimpeachable defence!

Finally, my love for my father notwithstanding, I actually knew him! I lived and worked with him, so forgive my harshness when I state categorically: the so called ‘truth’ these malicious cranks persist in forwarding – that my father conspired with the US Government to ‘fake the moon landings’ – is manifestly A GROTESQUE LIE.”

She essentially has two points. The first is that her father was not the kind of person who would engage in a massive cover up for the government, and as evidence that this is the case she refers to his body of work.

Second she argues that she personally knew him. This has at least two implications. The first is that she knew him well enough to know he would not do such a thing. The second is that she would probably have noticed if he was squirreled away for months working on a secret project in the middle of his career. In fact I think a lot of people would have noticed.

Kubrick was a busy filmmaker. He was also high profile. An entire industry would likely have noticed if he were working in secret, and the speculation would have been rampant.

In other words, if you want to make a super secret film to help with a massive conspiracy and cover up, a very high profile director is probably the last person you want to use.

As evidence for Kubrick’s involvement, moon hoaxers often point to the film The Shining, which they say contains many clues deliberately placed in the film by Kubrick to reveal the truth. This is just a rationalization that conveniently gives them an excuse to anomaly hunt a complex Kubrick film looking for patterns. Kubrick’s films are full of cinematic imagery, so they are fertile ground for the imagination.

I actually took a film class on Kubrick in college and we studied The Shining, so I have some idea what was really going on in the film. The Overlook hotel was essentially a representation of civilization itself. It was therefore full of icons of government and authority, including the Apollo images on Danny’s sweater.

The movie Room 237 (which I did see) lays out all of the imagery that hoaxers believe betrays Kubrick’s involvement in the moon landing hoax. It is worth a view for any skeptic – it is a classic example of ad hoc rationalization and the ability to see patterns where they don’t exist.

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