Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mars One will not be Utopia

I just managed to watch about 20 minutes of the pilot episode of the "reality" (and I use the quotation marks advisedly) TV show Utopia. That was all I could manage to stomach. And it was everything I hope the Mars One documentary shows will not be. Seeing it, and knowing that this is what so many people mentally picture when the Mars One selection process is described as "Big Brother in space", I can understand why they believe we are doomed to fail.

But I am confident that this will not be what Mars One will turn out to be. Reality TV show producers are looking for individuals who will be in conflict, who will generate drama from the tension and dissension they create. Mars One will be looking for people who can work together from the get-go, whose unity in supporting the mission will provide the common ground required to quickly put aside the sort of conflicts that the Utopia producers appear to revel in. In a typical reality show, the contestants are just that: contestants in a competition, trying to win money. And the producers have relatively little money riding on the show itself. Reality shows' inexpensive production costs are one reason they are so attractive to studios. But Mars One's candidates aren't competing for money. It is my hope that, in one sense, they're not competing at all but are instead merely trying to find the most skilled, viable combination of people to put forward for the settlement of Mars. And the Mars One team will responsible for billions of dollars of investment. They are not going to risk that kind of money on a bunch of hyped-up attention-seekers squabbling over who gets to go into the airlock first.