ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to parents and grandparents

Space Cowboys (2000), (PG-13)
CAP Score: 61
CAP Influence Density: 1.07
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: We make no scoring allowances for Hollywood's trumped-up "messages" to excuse, or its manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth. If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objective and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie

On July 26, 2000 the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry released a joint statement regarding the dangers of violence in entertainment. I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. An exceptionally important statement in the release that deserves your earnest attention is "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." [Emphasis is mine] Another statement in the report is "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." From our five-year study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed child psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the joint statement and our findings.

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.


Space Cowboys (PG-13) -- At last another PG-13 that is not an "R-13" -- but with nudity again and tons of foul language!

After being kicked out of the space program by monkeys and NASA in the '60s, X-2 project pilots Frank Corvin (Clint Eastwood), Hawk Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones), Jerry O'Neil (Donald Sutherland) and Tank Sullivan (James Garner) seek the glory and personal gratification of getting into space at least once before boarding the great spaceship in the sky. This is a quality veteran cast in a really good movie made bad by the PG-13 stuff that was completely unnecessary. NONE of the foul language [Eph. 5:6; Mark 7:15], the nudity [Ezek. 23:18] , or the coarse comments [Eph. 5:4] were needed -- all of which were totally gratuitous. This could make an "okay" family Saturday night flick if it were not for these matters. Indeed, if all these ignominy were removed from Space Cowboys it would still be Space Cowboys but the CAP Final Score of 61 and the CAP Influence Density (ID) of 1.07 would be improved to a score of 88 and an ID of 0.21 -- equivalent to a "hard" G. And if the booze and drinking were removed, it would be improved to a middle-of-the-road G of 93 with an ID of 0.13. Now tell me, how important is foul language, nudity, coarse comments and booze/drinking? Do they make the observer all grown up? Can you now see why the four public health agencies have made a joint statement about the influential power of entertainment? Some lying did not help the scoring of Space Cowboys either [Prov. 14:5]

It seems the orbit of an old Soviet communication satellite was decaying, generating much interest by the Soviets and NASA. The satellite navigation system was the same as was used in US cold war satellites. There is a question -- how did the secret navigational circuitry of US satellites get in the hands of the Soviets? That is part of the show. Military secrets are among the most fleeting. But the secret about the communications satellite was safe -- until now. Since the special circuitry was so old that no one in the space program could figure it out, NASA enlisted (with an ulterior motive) the four aging X-2 pilots to pilot a shuttle to repair the failing Soviet satellite. Frank was the one who designed the special circuitry. So, after several minutes of a spitting contest between Frank and the NASA boss, Bob Gerson (James Cromwell), Frank finally gets his way and dictates that if his old team does not go up with him to repair the Soviet satellite, he doesn't go. And if he doesn't go, it doesn't get fixed. But then so what? What if the aged and obsolete satellite burns up in the atmosphere? SPOILER ALERT! If you do not want to know the secret of the satellite, skip the rest of the Summary/Commentary section and move to the Findings/Scoring section.

Now comes the "Boris Badenov" slickery. The old Soviet communications satellite is not a communications satellite at all. It is a launching platform for six nuclear missiles. There is why the Soviets were so interested in getting the navigational system repaired and getting the satellite back into proper orbit speed and trajectory. Should the satellite fall to the earth, the world would know of the sneakiness of the previous Russia, not to mention the possible nuclear disaster. The script did seem to rely on an implied threat of nuclear detonations should the satellite fall to earth. About possible nuclear detonation, I will discuss that in the next paragraph. The radar of the US space shuttle activated the satellite's offensive posture. With the satellite rotating into launch functionality, the crew of the US space shuttle had minutes to disable the satellite with a wrecked shuttle craft, wrecked due to the docking links with the satellite.

In the final sequences, Hawk pilots the disabled Soviet satellite to crash on the moon in a sacrifice of his life to rescue the earth from an implied nuclear disaster, "rationalized" by the satisfaction of finally getting to go to the moon. And in the final scenes, Hawk's battered but yet still suited body lies on the surface of the moon among the scattered debris of the satellite. By the way, it makes sense why the atomic bombs did not detonate since they were not armed. For an old style atomic bomb to detonate, the fissile material (the stuff that blows up), usually Uranium-235, had to be compressed spherically. Compression of the fissile material was done with high explosives. If the high explosives, detonated by an electrical signal, were not armed by special circuitry they would not explode and thus compression of the fissile material would not happen. Also, atomic bombs of the cold war era were configured to detonate by an arming sequence at a preset altitude (measured by atmospheric pressure) to maximize the destruction pattern -- there was no atmosphere on the moon to actuate the arming sequence. So, this part of the movie "made sense" if you can get past the lunacy of how the satellite was piloted and navigated over 250,000 miles to the moon. Earlier in the movie, the NASA director of operations Sara Holland (Marcia Gay Harden) was heard saying to a group of school field trip participants that if an object could get half way to the moon, the moon's gravitational force would bring the object the rest of the way to the moon. I guess if the moon was the same size of the earth it would have equal gravitational strength to the earth's at midpoint between them. And I guess if there were no other stellar bodies each with their own gravitational attraction, however weak by proximity, and no solar wind then Dr. Holland's soliloquy would be feasible. However incorrect, Tank's piloting of the satellite to the moon depended on that part of the script.


  • (KJV) 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Eph. 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
  • Mark 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
  • Ezek. 23:18 When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Prov. 14:5 A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.


    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • fighting
  • suicide by martyrdom (unseen)

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 81 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • lies to cover up errors and wrongdoings

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • porn mag picture (from the 60s)
  • multiple rear male nudity
  • actors exposing themselves to an actress
  • a woman in men's locker room with inviting manners of the male
  • sexual jokes, comments, innuendo

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • booze
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • five uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 2 without

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

  • (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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    In the name of Jesus:
    Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.

    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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