Pop Culture

From Major Tom to Tang: The moon landing in pop culture

Today
Tang became a part of popular culture as the astronaut's drink, even though Buzz Aldrin is not a fan.

How could something as world-shaking as the moon landing not reverberate through popular culture? It was 45 years ago that Neil Armstrong took that giant leap for mankind, and every detail of Apollo 11 has been relived, recreated and fictionalized, in everything from movies to song.

Here are some of our favorite moon-inspired moments.

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Major Tom
In July 1969, the same month that Apollo 11 was landing on the moon, David Bowie released the song "Space Oddity," about fictional astronaut Major Tom, who loses contact with Ground Control and drifts away. (Bowie later claimed it was the movie "2001" A Space Odyssey," not the moon landing, that inspired the tune.) Major Tom would return in two other Bowie songs, a remix, and the 1983 Peter Schilling song "Major Tom (Coming Home)." Bowie uses space as his setting, but the song is really about alienation.

Trivia: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded a poignant version of "Space Oddity" while on the International Space Station in 2013, and it was released after he came safely back to Earth. Check out the floating guitar.

Tang, Space Food Sticks, Astronaut Ice Cream
When you think of space food, you think of powdered orange Tang, the drink that NASA first sent into space with John Glenn in 1962. Commercials bragged that it was "for Earthmen, who just don't want to be earthbound." Pillsbury Space Food Sticks — kind of like giant Tootsie Rolls — and freeze-dried Astronaut Ice Cream were also made, and are still available for those who want to moon around the kitchen. Not quite as cool as "Star Trek" food replicators, but close.

Trivia: In 2013, Buzz Aldrin told the Spike Guys' Choice Awards, "Tang sucks."

MTV moonmen statues
One of the earliest promos for MTV showed an astronaut planting MTV's flag, declaring that the music channel had indeed landed. So when the network started the MTV Video Music Awards in 1984, the moonman statuette was a natural, and it became one of the most recognizable award trophies out there. 

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    85th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

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    From the elegant Oscar to surfboards, guitars, moonmen and popcorn buckets, there are as many award shapes as there are awards shows.

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    All entertainment awards are secondary to the Oscar. The 8 1/2-pound statuette is officially dubbed the "Academy Award of Merit," but it's been known as the Oscar since the 1930s, though there's a friendly dispute about where the nickname came from. Jennifer Lawrence is seen holding her best actress Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2013.

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    Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line pose with the American Country Awards they won in 2013. The awards are custom-made real guitars.

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  • 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards - Winner's Walk

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    Actors Aimee Garcia and David Zayas pose with the ALMA Awards they won in 2013. ALMA stands for American Latino Media Arts Award, and the word "alma" means "soul" or "spirit" in Spanish. The statuette, which depicts a woman looking upwards, was redesigned in 2008.

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    Madonna holds a handful of Billboard Music Awards in 2013. The statuette represents a person singing into a microphone.

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    Hunter Hayes accepts his CMT Music Award in 2013. The statue is designed to look like a flame.

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    Tasha Cobbs holds her 2013 Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association, designed to look like its namesake bird.

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    Stephen Colbert holds his two Emmys in 2013. The Emmy is one of the most famous trophy shapes after the Oscar, and depicts a winged woman holding an atom. The award is to honor the "art and science" of television, with the wings representing the art and the atom the science element.

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    Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas holds a BET Award in 2013. The award depicts a shooting star.

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    Daniel Day-Lewis holds the Golden Globe he won for "Lincoln" in 2013. The statue is of a globe encircled by film, representing the international origins of the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

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    Taylor Swift holds a Grammy she won in 2013. The award depicts a golden gramophone, an early musical format.

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    James Franco holds his 2011 Independent Spirit Award. The award shows a bird on a pole with a shoestring wrapped around it -- the shoestring representing the slim budgets often involved in independent films.

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    The MTV Movie Award, held here by Will Ferrell in 2013, is made to look like a bucket of popcorn.

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    Alfre Woodard holds her 2013 NAACP Image Award. The statuette depicts a figure on his knees holding a globe.

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    Johnny Depp holds his favorite movie actor award at the 2013 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. The bright orange award, shaped like a blimp, is hollow and also serves as a kaleidoscope.

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  • 2013 American Music Awards - Press Room

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    Luke Bryan poses with his 2013 American Music Award, which is shaped like a pyramid.

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    MTV gives out some of the most creative awards in the business, handing out golden popcorn buckets for movie honors and astronauts planting flags on the moon, known as "moonmen," for the MTV Video Music Awards. Here Bruno Mars holds his two 2013 trophies. The astronaut image was one of the earliest representations of MTV.

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    Emma Watson holds her People's Choice Award in 2013. The flame-shaped awards are made of Irish Waterford crystal -- older versions displayed a pair of hands clapping inside the flame.

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    Actor Ross Lynch displays a 2013 Radio Disney Music Award, designed to look like Mickey Mouse.

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    Shawna and Keifer Thompson hold their Academy of Country Music Awards for best vocal duo in 2013. The trophy represents a stylized cowboy hat.

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    The Golden Raspberry Award, also known as the "Razzie," is the award no one wants to win. The trophy depicts a golfball-sized raspberry sitting atop a reel of film, and is presented to the worst films and actors of the year. In 2010, Sandra Bullock won for "All About Steve," and pulled a wagon full of DVDs of the film on stage, allegedly to give them out to the audience.

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    Sofia Vergara displays her Screen Actors Guild award in 2013. It depicts a nude man holding a mask of comedy and one of tragedy, and is nickamed "The Actor."

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  • The 67th Annual Tony Awards - Press Room

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    Cicely Tyson holds her 2013 Tony Award, given for excellence in live Broadway theatre. One side of the Tony medallion displays the comedy and tragedy masks, while the other side shows the winner's name, award category, production and year.

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    One of the largest awards given is the Teen Choice Award surfboard, displayed here by Miley Cyrus in 2013. Some celebrities have reportedly actually used them for surfing. The design was chosen to represent the freedom of summer vacation for teens.

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Trivia: The statue was redesigned in 2013 for one year only, getting a skull-and-crossbones head from Brooklyn artist KAWS.

Today
Clawmarks on the moon?

Movie mayhem
While there are plenty of factual films about NASA's various missions, the fictional ones have even more fun — they get to grab a few facts from reality and make up the rest. 1977 thriller "Capricorn One" focused on a Mars landing hoax, but it was based on conspiracy theories claiming men never landed on the moon. 2011's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" imagines that the Apollo 11 astronauts had found an alien technology that would enslave humanity. In "Men in Black 3," Agents J and K jump between 2012 and Cape Canaveral in 1969 as they battle to protect the ArcNet, a shield against aliens that Apollo 11 is sending into space. And 2011's poorly reviewed "Apollo 18" imagines a lost mission that reached the moon in 1974, only to find the moon rocks are really creepy-crawly aliens that infect the astronauts. (Really!) 

Trivia: Not a movie, but in an episode of "The Simpsons" Homer recalls his father watching the Apollo 11 landing. In true Homer fashion, he himself ignored the history-making mission to listen to the bubblegum pop song "Yummy Yummy Yummy."

Follow Gael Fashingbauer Cooper on Google+.

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