Movie critics were mostly impressed with the new Matt Damon movie The Martian, but a few critics took the movie’s boosterism of scientific nerdiness to make a point against those alleged science-hating conservatives.
Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post concluded her review: “at a time when a kid can get busted for bringing a DIY clock to school, presidential candidates seriously debate the value of vaccinations and even the Pope can’t win over global warming skeptics, the problem-solving valorized in The Martian provides a simultaneously stirring and spirited example of how cool science can be. As NASA-Hollywood plots go, this one is worth lapping up like all the water on Mars.”
Andrew O’Hehir at Salon made a pitch for very expensive Mars space programs at NASA:
Yes, it will cost fabulous, almost unimaginable sums to develop and execute a human Mars mission like the one that goes awry in The Martian. If anyone were to propose a concrete number — $100 billion has repeatedly been floated, but given the history of the space program that is almost certainly a lowball estimate – the inner Grover Norquist within all of us would rise up and vow to drown this pointless scheme in the cosmic bathtub. But that’s small-minded thinking from a nation that has grown distressingly hunched and small....
I can hear those murmurs of prudence and caution coming from the liberal quadrant too, which has grown hunched and small in its own distinctive way. As I was about to wrap up this article, I heard about Rush Limbaugh’s pronouncement that NASA was lying about the discovery of water on Mars in order to push a “leftist agenda,” and I could just rest my case right there. To a certain disturbingly widespread mind-set, scientific discovery and the advancement of human knowledge are suspicious in themselves, and likely to produce culturally unhealthy outcomes. Look at the mess Galileo and Darwin got us into!