S.G. Collins doesn’t trust the United States government. They “lie all the time, about all kinds of things,” he insists, “and if they haven’t lied to you today, maybe they haven’t had coffee yet.” Like some of those who express a similar distrust, he claims he has no way to verify that NASA landed on the moon in 1969. But unlike most of that subset, he doesn’t think the government could have pulled off a convincing hoax about it. In other words, America “did have the technical ability, not to mention the requisite madness, to send three guys to the moon and back. They did not have the technology to fake it on video.” Calmly, methodically, with a deadpan wit, Collins uses the thirteen minutes of Moon Hoax Not to explain exactly why, as improbable as the real moon landing sounds, a fake moon landing would have been downright impossible.
“The later you were born,” Collins says, “the more all-powerful movie magic seems.” Hollywood could now fake dozens of moon landings every day, but they didn’t always have that ability. Marshaling knowledge accrued over thirty years as a photographer, he addresses each of the points that moon-landing conspiracy theorists commonly cite as visual evidence of the supposed fraud. He also brings to bear facts from the history of video technology, such as 1969’s complete lack of the high-speed video cameras, needed to shoot the sort of slow motion necessary to create the illusion of low gravity. And what if they’d shot the entire Apollo 11 telecast on film instead? Collins also knows, and names, exactly the problems even the most ambitious, technologically advanced charlatans would have encountered, even—as in moon-landing hoax mockumentary Dark Side of the Moon—with Stanley Kubrick on their side.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.