Then came Capricorn One. The movie is mostly a pleasant entertainment, portraying high-tech deception in an action-thriller package. But the underlying conspiracy subject matter was more memorable than other aspects of the film. And though Capricorn One was not the first introduction of the NASA hoax idea, its mainstream packaging of it brought that theme to a wide audience of movie-goers. As a result, Capricorn One did much to put the notion of a huge NASA conspiracy on the map of American popular culture.
As it turns out, many of the most popular ideas in contemporary conspiracy theory have connections to fictional accounts in movies and television. The Capricorn One story is only one part of a much bigger picture, in which Hollywood has often mixed fact, conjecture, and fiction. Indeed, as the forthcoming book Conspiracy Theory in Film, Television, and Politics discusses, movies have played a large part in spreading conspiracy theory ideas for more than six decades.
Of course, the idea of a NASA hoax pales in comparison to more recent conspiracy theories involving the events of 9/11. Yet, it is easy to wonder if belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories would have been taken hold as quickly as they did if the idea of the moon landing hoax had not already been implanted in popular culture. And it’s also easy to wonder if the notion of a moon landing hoax would have become so familiar without the help of a similar story that was told in Capricorn One.
Some reports indicate that Capricorn One may be re-made in the near future. Whether or not a new version comes to screen near you, the original is worth a look, both as an entertaining example of 1970s pop culture and for its role in reinforcing conspiratorial ideas in the American mind.