Bleats

Stranger Things 3 Was A Period Drama So Here’s Your History Lesson

WARNING: Spoilers, obviously.

There is no doubt that a lot of those 40 million viewers were either too young to remember the Eighties or emerged into the world long after perms went past their use-by date. Dear reader, if you are among those embryos then you’ll have missed a lot of the more nuanced references in the latest season.

Warning: Here there be spoilers

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Stranger Things 3 showed, name-dropped, and referenced about a zillion cult classics of film and television, including movies that established iconic tropes in the horror genre. Thank The Thing for the Mind Flayer’s bloodthirsty alien tendencies and many-legged, insect-like form, and The Blob for its new ability to explode living things into disgusting, sentient flesh sacks and absorb them.

In Chapter Seven, the Scoops Troop briefly drop in on a showing of Back To The Future. The date that the episode takes place is the 3rd July 1985, the exact same day that the movie premiered IRL. Cool nod, but not exactly subtle.

But Stranger Things doesn’t just take place in the Eighties, it also parodies the era and romanticises it. One of the more clever ways it does this is by incorporating the political sentiments of the time into this season’s Russian villains.

The long and anxious years of the Cold War seeped into the cultural conscience of America in ways that have never been fully untangled. Most are as afraid of the ‘commies’ now as they were then, and even though the tensions had waned by the time that Stranger Things 3 is set in, the trope of the evil Russian was booming as much at the cinema as in Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign.

The most obvious parallel is Red Dawn, the classic story of Soviet-invades-town, high-schoolers-fight-back. Though I’d say a bear in the woods is a lot less scary than an interdimensional tentacle beast with telepathic powers.

Another element of Eighties iconography that takes centre-stage in Season 3 is the blatant consumerism of the era, from the Starcourt mall setting to the product placement that is so obvious it can only be intentional. Beverages like Coke and Alexei’s cherry Slurpees get a crazy amount of screen time, and at one point the kids spend almost a full minute arguing about the taste of New Coke before Eleven interrupts them – a throwback to the release of the Coca-Cola Company’s failed recipe reworking that year.

At first, the scene is completely jarring and might have irritated you (especially if you aren’t wearing rose-tinted nostalgia glasses), but when you realise how common product placement was at the time it begins to make a lot more sense. Ray-Ban sunglasses sales got a great boost from Tom Cruise modelling them first in Risky Businessand then in Top Gun, while E.T. earned a million dollars for eating some Reese’s Pieces. Gotta love it when the Duffer Brothers can poke fun at their own nostalgia-gasm.

Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to get a period piece perfect, and Stranger Things has its share of very subtle anachronisms. The most pedantic among us managed to spot one unfortunate error in Chapter Five, when El and Mike break out a packet of M&Ms at the hospital. The packet contains no blue chocolates, which is a good start since they weren’t around ’til the late 90s, but they failed to come through on the red ones – they were discontinued for a window between 1976 and 1987. Oof, so close people.

On the other hand, it could simply imply that there was a nearly decade-old packet of candy in that vending machine, which definitely isn’t impossible. Just a bit gross.

These Subscription Boxes Are Straight Fire If You Want A Gift That Keeps On Giving

You don't even have to get up.

In between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Christmas, let’s face it: we’re always desperate for last minute gift ideas. But that’s doesn’t mean you have to go scrambling around the shopping centre the night before.

The latest and greatest innovation in product purchasing is the subscription box concept. Pay a monthly fee and you get two wins in one – not only do you never have to leave the house, but the presents are seemingly never-ending! So much more satisfying than having forty boxes of regret turn up on your doorstep after a night of online shopping under the influence.

Me clicking ‘order’ on another novelty lamp that I don’t need

The best thing about subscriptions by far is that they work as a gift for
yourself, just as much as for friends and family. But there are so many unique boxes on the market, how do you decide which to get? Well, take a seat, we got this.

Beauty packages have been around for a hot minute, but they can get pretty expensive. Bellabox offer a great middle ground – you’ll get some brand names, but all are sample size. At only $20 though, you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking to go a bit more upmarket, especially if you’re treating Mum to something nice, take a squizz at Peony Parcel, whose luxury box is filled with all sorts of pampering goodies, like candles, candies and creams. All Aussie brands, at that.

But maybe you’re looking for something a little more unusual, maybe more practical too? Or maybe it’s your dad or brother you’re buying for, and scented lotions would go down like a lead balloon. Consider a sock subscription. Crazy, colourful wearables for your feet are all the rage right now, and if you don’t want to miss out on the fun then try Sock It Up on for size.

Maybe you want to fill out your own drawer instead, and want something a little more affordable. If you’re a fan of good boys, you can’t go past The Monthly Mutt for excellent dog content. For only $10, each month you’ll get a different breed. Shipping is fast, and free.

Tasty treats more up your alley? There’s plenty of those around too, don’t stress! Blue Mountains brand Marshmallow Club create handmade fluffy cloud of sweet goodness and will send them out to you in regular shipments, while the creative geniuses at Bake It Box have designed recipe kits for you to DIY something magnificent every month.

Whether you have kids, know kids, or are a kid (in which case I have no idea how or why you’re reading this), the best gift in the world is education. You can easily win Aunty/Uncle of the Year thanks to the geniuses over at KiwiCo, who have devised a number of monthly educational-yet-fun STEM boxes for different age groups that’ll pack plenty of learning in – and you get to enjoy a savvy b while shopping in your PJs.

Don’t let kids have all the fun – we all need to express ourselves creatively from time to time. It might seem crazy, but yes, subscription boxes do have every aspect of your life covered (at this point the only thing they can’t do is go to work for you). Sketchbox will send little projects to the craftiest designers and disaster artists alike, complete with all the materials you could possible ask for.

And if you want to kick back with something a little less involved, a subscription to Relove Print is your best bet. You get a preloved book for less than $10, and best of all it’ll be a totally unexpected story.

50 Years On From The Moon Landing, These Conspiracy Theories Are Still Kicking Around

When the Moon hits your eye like a big hoax and lie, that's amore.

It’s been half a century since Neil Armstrong said those famous words, but there’s still a shockingly large number of people who think that giant leap for mankind was a Hollywood fabrication. Estimates go as high as 20% among the US population, that’s not even including the tinfoil hat-wearing critics of the American government around the world.

There’s a whole bunch of interesting psychological phenomena behind conspiracy theories. Despite the enormous amount of evidence disproving them, moon landing truthers are locked into their beliefs by confirmation bias – basically, it’s a hell of a lot easier to be convinced by the ‘proof’ if you already suspect that something suss is going on. Plus, when believers are confronted by the facts, they’ll do anything to avoid the cognitive dissonance of changing their minds.

This is what y’all sound like.

It must be frustrating for the heroes of the Apollo 11 mission to have to defend their careers from armchair expert skeptics all the time. In fact, Buzz Aldrin eventually got sick enough of the harassment to punch a very confrontational conspiracy theorist in the face in 2002. NASA itself has to repeatedly issue a fact sheet in the moon landing’s defense.

So as a homage to Buzz, Neil, and Michael, and all the other astronauts who followed in their footsteps, here’s a brief debunking of some of the most ridiculous theories about the moon landings.

The Crosshairs

When scientists take photos from space they use reticules to provide a point of reference for distance, which comes in handy if the images get distorted. That’s why most of the photos from the Apollo missions had ‘crosshairs’ all over them. Theorists have pointed out that some of the crosshairs appear to be behind pieces of equipment, as if the pictures had been later edited. But there’s a simple reason for it- the camera technology being used to project the reticules onto the image was very susceptible to exposure issues, and as a result sometimes they aren’t fully visible.

The ‘Props’

Continuing with the theme of photographic over-analysis, theorists have drawn a tonne of red circles around suspicious objects in the pictures from the moon’s surface. One of them is the ‘C-rock‘, allegedly a set designer’s mistake (or alien trolling). Then there’s the apparent reflection of a stage light in the visor of Apollo 12’s Pete Conrad. The explanation for the crosshairs works here too- it’s probably nothing more than a photo development flaw, or a helmet scratch in the case of the visor.

The Missing Impact Crater

It seems obvious that the jet propulsion of a landing spacecraft would create a crater in the ground, or at least a huge dust cloud- especially on a gritty surface like the moon’s. But this falsehood comes out of several very obvious scientific misconceptions. For one, the atmosphere is a vacuum, plus the lunar soil is way denser than it looks. Then there’s the weight of the module itself- on the moon, it weighs about one-tenth of a car tyre.

The Van Allen Belt

The boldest claim of them all is that no astronaut could even survive the trip to the moon. This was the logic that inspired Bill Kaysing to start the conspiracy theory in the first place, and it argues that the radiation-filled field around the Earth known as the Van Allen Belt was a deadly force that NASA had no clue how to overcome. There’s only one problem with that. Astronauts would only be exposed to a sixth of the lethal dose of radiation on a four hour trip- and that’s if they were floating around outside of their spacecraft, a la Sandra Bullock.

Who better to film the fake landing than celebrated film director Stanley Kubrick? After all, his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey would more than qualify him for the role.

The US government certainly did a good job of keeping him quiet if he was involved in such a secret project, but artists are brilliant at finding creative loopholes. People who believe the moon landing was a hoax think that Kubrick left easter eggs in his later films, and that The Shining was an extended metaphor for Stanley suffering in silence with the secret. It’s actually kind of compelling.

Kubrick’s Clues

A documentary maker named Jay Weidner pieced it all together. The twins in The Shining represent Apollo’s predecessor, Project Gemini. The haunted room is number 237, and the Moon is 237 000 miles from Earth (only it’s not, it’s actually 238 855 miles but don’t let that stop you, Weidner). And of course, the centerpiece of the theory: Danny is wearing a sweater with Apollo 11 knitted on it. Seems a little on the nose for a creative genius like Kubrick.

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