Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Space PR Follow Up (COLBERT and Defying Gravity)

In a small continuation of the comments I made regarding Defying Gravity, the new ABC show, I give you this...

Science is nice for those of us who have chosen it as our profession, or have some inner fascination with it, but this is not true of most people. The scientific community is not that big compared to the rest of the population, so you have to figure out ways to target them (and their support) in other ways than by boring them with science.

Face it, not everyone is that into science. They use instruments derived from it, but care less how they got them and definitely don't care about the details of how they work. Science and space exploration is not some sacrosanct institution that has to obey strict laws regarding how it popularizes itself. Where do people get this notion that in order to promote science, it MUST be scientific. You can skirt the edges and appeal to a larger community.

A case in point would be the new show on ABC called Defying Gravity. Is it completely scientifically accurate? No. Does it have some scientific merit is places? Yes. Does it have interesting characters and attractive plot lines? Yes for the first part, but who knows for the second part as it's still developing and new. Still, a prime time show like this is exactly the kind of thing the main stream public needs exposure too, to entertain them WHILE immersed in the realm of space!

Additionally, you have the COLBERT Treadmill which will fly to the ISS on STS-130, which was recently "awarded" to the comedian Steven Colbert (from the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report) by NASA after he mounted a campaign to have the Node 3 segment named after him, following the guidelines set forth in NASA's most recent naming PR campaign. Well, even though he won the actual contest, NASA still didn't use his name, but knew the PR hit would be terrible if they completely discounted him all together, which would have been ultra-stupid, so they gave him the treadmill. At least it all turned out to be positive.

If space is on the collective conscious of non-space people, then real life space based initiatives are easier to realize because people are more familiar with the subject matter, even if it's not EXACTLY like how TV portrays it. Hell, Star Wars and Star Trek have motivated MANY people to become scientists and engineers just so they could try and make Sci-fi into Sci-fact!

As far as I'm concerned, any positive publicity is good publicity. I'd rather be talking about the COLBERT or Defying Gravity than budget cuts or space disasters.

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