Yes, People Can Really Be This Shallow.

Image credit: Bryan Versteeg

So the 100 candidates remaining in the Mars One selection process got their first taste of why they’ll need both a sense of humor and a thick skin when dealing with the media last week. Some blog rated the 100 by “hotness.” Really! At least one member of the Aspiring Martians Group was quite offended by it, as I recall. If somebody’s going to rank people by their hotness, they do deserve to be called out for having the wrong priorities. However, not even having the Internet equivalent of a big hook that can be used to pull bad performers off the stage would necessarily help prevent all the offensiveness that appears online daily.

For the record, the website was called, “Funny or Die.” And this was definitely a “Die” in my book. The writers of that particular article don’t seem to have put too much thought into it. There was one point where they were just repeating, “Too sandy, too snowy, too sandy, too sandy, too snowy.” If I laughed at all, it was at the sheer ridiculousness of rating people who might have the “right stuff” for becoming the first Martian settlers by their appearance. (And yes, Leila, that Photoshopped reference to Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy was worth a 42 in my book.)

Yes, people are really that shallow. You only have to look at a lot of “unscripted” reality shows like The Bachelor to see the kind of show that appeals to the masses. Yes, I know that you don’t have to watch it if you don’t like it. Stuff like that only stays on the air because it appeals to people who want cheap entertainment. It stinks for those of us who actually prefer more sophisticated entertainment to have to put up with the fact that a lot of Americans think Monty Python is funny.

TV and the Internet both run on the same basic business model. If you can get more eyeballs on the content you produce, corporate marketing departments will be willing to pay you more for getting their ads in front of that audience. It’s all about advertising dollars, so I simply advised the AMG to avoid clicking on links like that to avoid rewarding the writers and publishers of those articles with advertising revenue. At the risk of sounding like I was imitating the version of John Glenn portrayed in The Right Stuff, I also warned them not to do anything that could provide gossip fodder for blogs because people will choose to believe that Mars One is sending the wrong stuff if somebody slips and gets caught at it. The paparazzi is going to be everywhere and they don’t really care about the privacy rights of famous people when they know that they can sell scandalous pictures.

Ranking the 100 remaining candidates by hotness is really quite mild compared to what the candidates are probably going to face. It helps to have a thick skin. In a way, I’m glad that Mars One is doing a documentary instead of a straight up reality show because it could cut down on comparisons to shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Independent bloggers the ones who created that article are going to be brutal enough as it is. The remaining candidates might want to start their own blog so that they can set the record straight when the media is being offensive or gets the facts wrong.

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