Marco Rubio probably shouldn’t weigh in on movies he hasn’t actually seen. Case in point: On Friday, the Florida senator tweeted his two cents about a very silly controversy surrounding Damien Chazelle’s biopic of Neil Armstrong, First Man. It all started after the Telegraph reported that star Ryan Gosling had been asked at the Venice Film Festival about the decision not to show the American flag being planted on the moon in the movie.
“I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil,” Gosling responded, adding, jokingly, “I’m Canadian, so might have cognitive bias.”
Conservative backlash was as swift as it was uninformed. “This is where our country’s going,” said Ainsley Earhardt on Fox & Friends. “They don’t think America is great―they want to kneel for the flag, for the anthem―it was never great. This is the direction―they’re scared to use the American flag. It’s Hollywood.” Rubio got in on the action, too.
Let’s get something straight: the American flag is in First Man. While it’s true that Chazelle’s movie doesn’t show the American flag being planted on the moon, it also doesn’t pretend that it never happened. The flag appears in the background, and when the astronauts depart, it’s clearly visible on the lunar surface. Sure, you might disagree with the decision not to show the flag being placed, but it’s in keeping with the movie’s tone: It’s a biopic about Armstrong, after all, not a reenactment of the moon landing. And no one is pretending that NASA’s flight was “a U.N. mission.”
Rubio’s comment was in response to a Business Insider tweet about the controversy, and based on how he reacted, it seems like a good bet that he not only didn’t see the movie, he probably didn’t even read the original article. In criticizing First Man, however, he did open himself up to some pretty incredible burns:
Then again, if Rubio hadn’t weighed in, then we’d never have been given the great and almost certainly unintentional moon pun (“total lunacy”), so it all evens out.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus