References to flat earth in 20th century pop culture (rant)
Yesterday, someone I know was watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. It made me think back, and I’ve never seen a show about where the characters live on a flat earth with no outer space. Not even religious shows. Lately, the last 20 years or so, there has been a major uptick in mentioning flat earth in order to control the narrative. I don’t really ever recall flat earth being mentioned on TV or in movies or songs or books when I was younger, except once. Not even as passing dialogue, even as a false concept. I tried to think of one time a show has ever mentioned flat earth. Of course, globe earth is mentioned constantly, sci-fi shows about space travel and shows about astronauts make up a huge portion of shows. *Touched by an Angel* even had an episode about an astronaut, with copious amounts of curved horizon imagery when that astronaut goes into outer space. When I was a younger, we referenced flat earth all the time. If someone didn’t agree about a progressive issue of some sort, like that being gay is wrong, we would say, “Do you still believe the earth is flat, too?” And yet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find dialogue about our ancestors who knew that the earth was flat. Since I couldn’t recall anything, I eventually cheated and started looking online. TV Tropes has a page for it called “FlatWorld” and lists about 100 entries of fictional representations of flat earth. And they get really generous, including video games like Super Mario Brothers. But compared to the constant stream of globe earth stuff, it’s practically nothing. Meanwhile, evidence has surfaced that flat earth was still taught in American schools well into the 20th century, and might even still be taught in some places across the world. But it’s odd because no period piece ever mentions that. I can’t recall Little House on the Prairie ever talking about it, for instance. They never show preachers from ancient times talking of a flat earth under a firmament. It’s almost like they don’t want to talk about it. They’ll pump out a show about Hitler dozens of times a year, but not about Galileo, who changed the world (if he even existed). Of the few dozen shows I found from the 20th century, I feel that special mention goes out to [an episode of Mr. Squiggle and Friends called “Flat Earth”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo6fenctGS4) from 1993. If you don’t want to click the link, you’re not missing much. They start off with a theme song saying that Mr. Squiggle is the “man from the moon.” Then they carry on with the usual, “If the earth was flat, we would fall off the edge!” Followed by a creepy puppet drawing inverted pictures. Then, it’s mentioned that someone should take a picture of the earth from the moon to prove that the earth isn’t flat. The end. We’re all still waiting for a real picture of the earth from the moon. One without the Photoshop square around it, or one that doesn’t have the same copy-and-paste clouds on it, or maybe an earth where the geography doesn’t change wildly in size and shape. Oh yeah, so I forgot to say ,my first exposure to flat earth was an obscure 1990s comic book called Too Much Coffee Man, with a weird exchange where one character says something like, “Next, you’ll tell me the earth is flat.” And the other character says, “The earth *is* flat.” It’s the first time I ever pondered if anyone could actually think the earth was flat in modern times. Now I know. Anyone else remember any flat earth references from pop culture? Thank you for reading my disjointed ramblings. Have a good day.
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