Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, went to the edge of space on Tuesday, July 20. As ABC News reported, Bezos was on board as his space venture Blue Origin sent a crewed vessel just outside the Earth’s atmosphere for a few minutes on Tuesday in a daring feat of financial excess.
Onboard with his brother Mark Bezos, astronautical pioneer Wally Funk, and a Dutch physics student, Bezos’s space flight comes as critics say his and other billionaires’ escapist space fantasies come as the planet is burning. Bezos admitted in a recent CNN interview that these critiques are “largely right,” but said he takes a both-and perspective to saving the world and finding a way to get off this planet.
While some may see this as simply an extravagant display of wealth, others saw it as ample fodder for memes.
The shape of Bezos’s rocket was much remarked upon for its similarity to certain anatomical figures. Specifically, the phallic shape was compared in side-by-side images to Dr. Evil’s rocket from The Spy Who Shagged Me, the 1999 Austin Powers film that features the villain blasting off in a spaceship with a full set of twig and berries. Others likened it to a sex toy.
Others lampooned Bezos’s fashion choices. The Daily Beast already explored the story behind his flight suit, but as he emerged from his capsule, the billionaire was wearing a cowboy hat. Not everyone was a fan of his western style.
After landing, Bezos thanked Amazon employees and customers, saying, “You guys paid for all of this.” Amazon has been remarkably profitable. According to an April report from MarketWatch, the company has reported combined profits in the tens of billions of dollars over the last several years. Meanwhile, efforts at unionization at Amazon facilities have struggled.
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