Victor Schukov

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The ultimate reality show

Some Dutch money-bags of the European Space Agency are seeking candidates to interview for Mars One, a mission to colonize the Red Planet by 2023. The future is here. Distance: 60 million kilometres (bring a lunch). Since the road to Mars is one-way the management is seeking pigeons -uhm, colonists – who are “resilient, adaptable, curious, trusting and resourceful”. In summary, “insane”. What if the toilet breaks on the way? What if the GPS goes on the fritz and they end up in Pluto, or worse, New Jersey? What if one of the crew loses it and insists that he has to have a Wendy’s burger all dressed and will not compromise?

 

I have no doubt that this project is going to happen. Why? Because it will be financed by the profits from the ultimate reality show. The selected space-people will be filmed not only through their audition stages but also through training, travel, and life on Red Rock. I would call the show So You Think You Are Space-Worthy. The plan is brilliant. But I know people who have actually been contestants on reality shows and I can tell you this: The shows are staged, scripted for maximum drama. Real people are boring so a director has to go along. Imagine a scene being set up:

Director: “Now Fred, in this episode, the team decides to vote you off the ship. You will now be ejected through the loading dock door. So, naturally you are upset. That is your motivation. Remember, we have only one take to get this right, people. Aaaaaaand action!”

 

Whoever goes is not coming back. Add to that the producers’ requirement for quirky, difficult people that spice up a show to be watched by billions of viewers. In other words, the winners are “undesirables”. Like Australia of old, I recommend convicts. Send people who you want to get rid of. Bell Canada executives and Beaconsfield counselors would also qualify.

 

They don’t have to be technical, the Mars One specification says. But do you really want to go on a 60 million kilometre trip with people who have the astro-mechanical skills of cabbage, in a vehicle as complicated as a …uhm…spaceship? To paraphrase: “Yes, in fact it IS rocket science!”

 

The travel time is like 10 years. The successful “astronut” will naturally need to have the patience of a Mercier Bridge commuter, and the mindless attention of an NFL/NHL/NBA/NBL couch potato. I suggest that the space craft be equipped with TV, easy chairs and chips. With the right stuff you won’t even notice the years go by. And since you will spend the rest of your life with the same people, the ad says: “Your humor is a creative resource, used appropriately as an emerging contextual response.” In layman’s terms, “you will most probably lose your mind before you get there”.

 

Colonizing Mars in 20 years, good luck with that. There is nothing like a voyage with very low odds of survival, followed by having to exist on a planet that has no air, water or supermarkets.

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