The excitement for the NASA-announced discovery by the brave little toaster Curiosity, that ankle-deep water flowed on the now surface of Gale Crater at 3 feet per second is a moment to consider how far the American culture has come since 1980 and the Carter Administration zeitgeist of Viking landers on Mars and war on Earth. Above find the deeply camp video of the NBC/BBC co-production of Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles," first aired in 1980, starring Rock Hudson as the philosopher hero, Colonel John Wilder. The Martians are presented as wily but stupid Indians who repel the early colonizing expeditions with lusty tricks, however, like the Native Americans, they are ignorant that Homo Sapiens is a walking shopping center of pandemics. Chicken pox wipes out the super smart Martians except for a few spiritual shadows, so that the third Earth expedition, led by Rock Hudson, gains a foothold. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev push the bottoms and wipe out civilization. What is left of mankind on Mars comes to understand that we are all Martians now and must quit the homo sapiens trait of pointless aggression.
We know now that Ronald Reagan's defeat of Jimmy Carter saved mankind from radioactive clouds. On Mars, the Martians are far trickier than Ray Bradbury supposed, because they remain hidden in the mysterious geology. Clearly water flowed, clearly the atmosphere was thicker, clearly there are signs consistent with either fossilized organics or subterranean organics, but as of yet, no confirmation of Martian Life. The next challenge is to establish where on Mars the Earth Colony will prosper while it recreates a Martian ecosystem. Subterranean is the logical choice -- the caverns of Mars provide the fundamentals of a planetary scale civilization based upon Martian resources and Earth-exported technologies and creatures. And when the first infants are born to Earth creatures, are they not Martians?
1980 was the 4th Grade.
Watching the campy Martian Chronicles, it is impossible to ignore the thought that Hollywood and TV and our culture once accepted production values that wouldn't get made in the 4th Grade in 2012. The argument that Earthlings destroy civilization with a nuke exchange also sounds trite. Why this all signifies today is that POTUS Obama learned what he knows of disarmament during the Reagan Administration. Also most of what POTUS knows about confronting a tricky enemy who wins by deception dates from the out-of-date realpolitik of the Cold War. Presidents usually fight the last tragic opera. Will POTUS Obama's second administration revisit the cheesy productions values of 1980 and the hollow victory of shaking hands with a Martian Supreme Leader? It is simple of me, but it is fun to substitute the Twelvers of Tehran for the Martians of 1980. Time for the chicken pox weapon?