A Sociological Analysis of Ron Howards Apollo 13

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Ron Howard’s re-creation of the happenings aboard NASA’s Apollo 13 flight combined some of the biggest talent in Hollywood to produce a masterful film. Apollo 13 takes us back in time, to the late 1960’s and early 70’s, when America’s NASA space program was thriving and the world stood aside to see who would reach the moon first. The impacts of space program are still evident to this day. It is even said that by beating the Russians to the moon, we established ourselves are the top power in the world and propelled ourselves to the status we hold today. While today our space program flounders in the public eye, this movie illustrates a time when NASA’s successes and failures held a huge sociological impact on American and even international life. In many different aspects, the American space program and more specifically the rescue of the Apollo 13 crew really showed traits similar to those found in any three of the major sociological perspectives: functionalist, symbolic interactionism, and conflict. On one hand, it can be seen that NASA is a large structure formed of many smaller structures that keep is going. The government funds NASA, NASA hires crew to build and fly the ships and the different crews do their separate parts to come together as a whole and make it all work out (much as the crew on the ground did during the rescue mission of the Apollo 13 crew). Now on the other hand, the symbolic interactionism really shows itself in not just the rescue mission or space program itself, but involving everyone throughout the entire film. Symbolic interactionism determines how we place importance on things in life and how we form our opinions and priorities. Walking on the moon was the most important thing to Jim Lovell early in the film. However as events unfolded, Jim realized the real importance was life itself and his family and crew. Again, without symbols, Jim’s family wouldn’t have meant as much to him and he may have disregarded them altogether. The final of the three sociological perspectives is the conflict perspective. While this perspective becomes scarcely evident in the film, it doesn’t play nearly as important a role as do the other two. The only time that any form of power struggle appeared was early in the flight when Jim and Fred didn’t appreciate Jack being on their ship, probabl... ... middle of paper ... ...xploited shortcomings and downfalls have brought public criticism and governmental funding cutbacks. Its successes are no longer praised in the American eye and have been put aside as a national priority ever since its glory days in the late 60’s and early 70’s. No longer does the space program serve as a uniting force, but as a program many think is unneeded when placed beside other national issues. In conclusion, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 was a riveting re-creation of the real events that took place more than a quarter-century ago. This movie serves as a model of American society and its sociological aspects. It illustrates various lessons in understanding society and social interaction not just among the three crew members aboard Apollo 13, but the entire NASA crew and all of America and the world that watched the events unfold. Although the space program’s influence on American lifestyle is not as significant as it was in the 1960’s and 70’s, its importance to the survival of mankind is vastly underestimated. Instead, much of American attention in this new century is directed towards warfare, terrorism and growing internal issues with the government.

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