Product Placement: the Final Frontier

Around the time of the moon landing when people were wondering what Neil Armstrong would say when he first set foot on the surface some comedian whose name I can’t remember joked that he could make himself a pile of money if he just shouted “Coca-Cola!” Those were the days. Now such Philip K. Dickian crass commercialization of space flight is the norm and what’s left of the final frontier is only on the Sci-Fi channel or in Star Trek sequels. These days, instead of exploring new worlds, NASA has been reduced to hauling plumbing supplies and pushing product placement items to promote upcoming Pixar movies. To wit: in addition to bringing a replacent toilet for the crew, the “Discovery” makes a much needed delivery of a Buzz Lightyear action figure from Pixar’s “Toy Story” to the space station just in time for the release of “Wall-E,” its new animated feature about a futuristic robot. No doubt this will help move the  film’s  “300 robot-themed consumer products that will arrive on store shelves over the next month.”  In the face of such cosmic merchandising, the barrage of labels let loose in “Sex and the City,” a virtual “Super Bowl for women” as a studio rep  put it for “Vanity Fair,” seems  small potatoes.

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