People have complained about the film “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” for many reasons: it’s too long, it’s too loud, it was directed by a sociopathic 13-year-old boy, it exists at all, etc. I can sympathize with some of these objections. What I can’t get behind, though, is any criticism of Buzz Aldrin for appearing in it.
In case you haven’t seen the movie, on account of being over the age of 30 and/or female, I will tell you what Buzz Aldrin is doing in it. The movie’s premise is that the 1969 moon landing was partly to investigate a UFO that had crashed there in 1961. (The government’s response time to an accident is about the same as Allstate’s.) When this information is revealed to the movie’s fictional characters in the present, the real Buzz Aldrin shows up to confirm that it’s true, and to tell them about the secret things he did on the moon 42 years ago. Optimus Prime, the giant space robot who dresses up like a semi truck on the weekends, treats Buzz Aldrin with great respect. The whole thing reminds me of those cheesy old holiday specials where Dean Martin or Perry Como or whoever would get a “surprise” visit from some other celebrity. (“Say, there’s a knock at the door! Who could that be? Why, it’s our old friend Buzz Aldrin!”)
On Twitter and in other important circles of public discourse, some viewers have expressed disappointment in Aldrin for participating in this goofiness. They say it’s demeaning, that it tarnishes his reputation as an American hero. But I say poppycock. Poppycock and balderdash! (Also: hogwash.) Being in “Transformers” is demeaning for the actors, sure, and for many of the automobiles. But not for Buzz Aldrin. Why? Because his status as one of the few men to walk on the moon means that it is mathematically impossible for him to do anything that would diminish his standing. He gets a free pass. No matter what he does for the rest of his life, he will always be cooler than everyone else except Neil Armstrong.
Buzz Aldrin could have done his “Transformers” cameo in the nude and made fart noises with his hand and his armpit instead of speaking his dialogue, and it wouldn’t have mattered. He would still be a man who walked on the moon. He could play the Jennifer Lopez role in a shot-for-shot remake of “Gigli,” then show up at the red-carpet premiere in blackface and fire a gun into the crowd — he’d be no less an icon than he is now. People would tsk-tsk a little, but then they’d still want to buy him a drink and listen to his moon stories.
Let me be clear. Buzz Aldrin can do anything he wants to. Buzz Aldrin could barge into your home covered in sheep’s blood, make himself a sandwich, relieve himself on your carpet, then set the house on fire on his way out. Anyone else would be arrested for that. Nick Nolte has been twice. But if you called 9-1-1 about Buzz Aldrin, the responding officers would sternly say to you, “Were you aware that this is Buzz Aldrin? Maybe you didn’t realize that he WALKED ON THE DAMN MOON??”
All of this applies not just to Aldrin, of course, but to any of the nine men still living who walked on the moon. If you’ve been to the moon, you have immunity from all laws and social customs forever. There was an act of Congress and everything. (“Whereas going to the moon is awesome; and whereas none of you regular people will ever do anything that is even one-millionth as cool as that…”) Granted, it’s kind of a hassle for the guys who aren’t Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong, because no one knows their names and they have to show ID a lot. But they’re still entitled to the privileges.
And they’re hardly the only ones. Our society grants exceptions to a lot of people. The Queen of England, for example, can do pretty much anything she chooses — and not just in England, either. We defeated her in a war well over 200 years ago, but whenever she visits America we treat her with reverence. She’s allowed to skip to the front of the line at customs, she can drive on the left side of the road, she can get as drunk as she wants without being kicked out of a bar, all because she was elected Queen of another country.
We sort of had an arrangement with Michael Jackson, too. As long as he made cool music and entertained us by being a fascinating weirdo in public, we agreed to look the other way on the child-molesting thing. Sure, we gave him a hard time about it, but we never really made it an angry-mob-with-torches-and-pitchforks kind of issue, not the way we would have if it had been someone other than Michael Jackson molesting those boys.
So let’s have no more of this nonsense about Buzz Aldrin somehow sullying his image by being associated with “Transformers” or “Dancing with the Stars” or German fetish pornography or the Queen of England or anything else. If he wanted to, he could spend the rest of his life sitting on his front porch twisting the heads off live kittens and throwing them at passersby, and he would still be awesome. The fact that he could do this yet chooses not to just makes him more awesome.
Then there was the time an obnoxious attention whore who claims the moon landing was a hoax kept pestering Buzz Aldrin, and so Buzz Aldrin, who was then 72 years old, punched him in his stupid face. The only thing that could make this more fantastic would be if there were video footage of it — which there is!
(Aldrin didn’t get in any legal trouble for punching the guy, either. Why? BECAUSE HE WALKED ON THE MOON. Haven’t you been paying attention?)
In that video, you’ll see that Aldrin puts up with a lot of crap from this idiot. The guy gets right up in Aldrin’s face, calls him a liar and a thief, tells him he’s going to hell for participating in the moon-landing hoax. But Aldrin doesn’t lose his patience until the guy calls him — wait for it — “a coward.”
OH NO YOU DID NOT just apply the word “coward” to a man who got inside a rocket and went to the moon! America basically built a giant bullet, put Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and the third guy whose name I forget inside it, put the bullet in a giant gun in Florida, aimed it at the moon, and pulled the trigger. Then the bullet hit the moon — BULLSEYE! — and Buzz and Neil got out and hopped around and planted a flag, and then came home. Not one of those actions, except maybe the hopping around, is something a coward would do. You call a guy like that a coward, you’re lucky to escape with just a punch in the mouth, especially considering everyone who went to the moon came back with super powers.