Mars is pretty far away. Have you ever noticed that? It’s like…. really far away. I am looking at this bag of chips on the counter, they’re potato, and to me that’s an insurmountable distance to venture. Chair to counter is a journey most epic. And Mars is easily 10 times further than that.
But these guys at Mars One are ready to take the trip. Mars One wants to, by 2023, establish a settlement on Mars. They aren’t NASA–they don’t work for any governmental agency. Mars One are just a bunch of people who decided they wanted to go to Mars, like how my college roommates and I decided we wanted to make our own beer, except the Mars thing is a lot cooler, and they’re actually going to do their thing.
I don’t speak for all astronauts (read: any astronauts,) but I imagine all astronauts have dreams of setting foot on Mars. I mean, being an astronaut is really impressive, but going to Mars is crazy impressive. Go to Mars and you’re a part of history. And if you have the desire to go to space, you probably have the desire to check out the sights on Mars, right? It’s the astronautical dream. But any astronaut participating in Mars One is going to have to face two less than awesome requirements.
One: The trip to Mars is one-way. You’re up there for good. New colonists will join you every few years, but the Mars colony will become your life.
Two: You’re being filmed and broadcast on the internet 24/7. A good chunk of the expedition’s funding is coming from theoretical reality show income, so the reality show part is inherent. It’s being touted, by me, as the “reality show where instead of some stupid beach house or ice road truck, the cast is on freaking Mars.” I just said that outloud in my room by myself so I could justify putting it in quotes.
There are a few weird things about the concept of this being a reality show. First of all, when I watch reality shows like Jersey Shore, The Real World, Toddlers and Tiaras and so on, ad (literal) nauseum, I watch because they make me feel better about myself. Snooki presents herself as a paragon of poor humanity, so that a viewer can think, “I may have just gotten laid off this morning, but at least I didn’t get kicked out of a Chilli’s for disorderly behavior.” People watch reality TV to see crummy people do extravagant things.
You can’t do that with a show about extremely intelligent and skilled astronauts who went to Mars!! Do you realize how much cooler someone who went to Mars is than you? Like, 17 cool units cooler. You can’t feel superior to an astronaut, unless you’re a time traveler or a Viking or something.
Also, I think more compelling than the Mars aspect is the “one-way trip” aspect. I understand the value of sending people to Mars, but I don’t understand the value of a Mars reality show. It’s not like they can explore Mars, the colony is going to be a very small enclosed space. The intrinsically linked concept of sending people away for the rest of their lives is way more interesting.The astronauts would be signing on to limit the rest of their lives to a confined space on a far-away planet. No more fresh food, ever. You’d have to say goodbye to your loved ones. No more fresh air. All of your future experiences would be on Mars.
Can’t we emulate that in a reality show with our current technology? Why not just buy an island and build a simulated Martian surface there, and stick a bunch of people on it, shipping them food every couple of weeks? We can watch people slowly realize that they’ll really never get to see their families again at a fraction of the price! And if conspiracy theorists are to be believed, we’re already pros at staging fake planetary landings! We could even send Bruno Mars! I have no reason to want to exile him, but the pun works.
And that’s my fanfiction prequel to The Hunger Games.
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