On April 23, Mars One began accepting applications for the first ever Mars colony, which at this stage is nothing more than a website and the ramblings of a crazy businessman. Seriously, despite having literally almost nothing to differentiate itself from any of the countless other space-related fundraising projects currently out there, Mars One manages to stay in the news. It's like they've taken lessons from North Korea on how to stay relevant in the face of crippling irrelevance.
Think about it ...
#5. They Both Make Propaganda Videos Devoid of Any Real Information
As we pointed out last month, North Korea loves their propaganda videos, all of them champions of unintentional comedy and absent of anything that could be mistaken for facts.
Mars One made a video, too, and despite being a handsome example of semi-professional visual effects, it doesn't convey a single bit of information beyond reminding us that Mars is a thing and space is where astronauts live.
"Only the blandest men will do for our new world."
Nothing about the science, nothing about how they plan to pull it off or what resources they will require. Just a stoic spaceman and a thoughtfully determined pair of eyes.
Stoned, slightly unfocused eyes.
It falls perfectly into the category of "videos made exclusively to remind you that we exist" that North Korea has been perfecting.
#4. They Both Invest Heavily in Fake Pictures
Doctored images are like currency in North Korea, usually touched up to make it look like they have more missiles than they actually do or staged to make it appear that Kim Jong Un is chairing every military strategy discussion.
"Everyone should have guns this big, like in Rambo."
"How many inches can we move each turn?"
Same thing with Mars One. So far all they've put out are animated interpretations of what their proposed colony might look like, in space, 20 years from now.
Granted, we're not expecting them to take actual pictures on Mars, but it would be nice to see photos of some of their facilities, equipment, etc., since they're asking for both money and lives to fling into space. But of course they can't show us those photos, because they don't actually have any of that stuff. All they have is a website. We can't stress that enough.
#3. They Both Know Their Buzzwords
Both North Korea and Mars One know what phrases make good headlines. North Korea has famously threatened to "wipe the U.S. once and for all," not to mention their vow to crush South Korea with "sledge hammer retaliation" for their "puppet authorities" and their anti-North Korean rally, which was dubbed a "monstrous criminal act" by Kim Jong Un and friends.
Ed Jones / AFP / Getty
"Wait, are you clapping for me or them? If me, good. If them, fuck you."
In the Mars One recruitment video, the narrator says phrases like "the heavens are part of man's world" and "the dawn of a new era." And in their press release, Mars One expresses hope that the whole world will unite to search for the "envoys of mankind to Mars."
Clearly an elite group.
They're like two entities that speak exclusively in taglines.
#2. They Both Need Money
North Korea's economy has been in the dumps for a while now. A few weeks ago the country was literally begging for food from Mongolia, which, historically, is a terrible idea that can only be borne out of desperation.
STR / AFP / Getty
It turns out people can't eat walls.
Mars One needs it, too. What many of the excited applicants fail to realize is that Mars One is nowhere close to raising the $6 billion needed to launch anyone into space. Since December, they've raised an estimated $72,000, and they firmly believe they'll get the rest of the funding from television sponsorships. That is, sponsorships for the show based on the colony that they haven't actually established yet using technology that hasn't been developed yet (when asked how they planned to protect their astronauts from the extreme levels of radiation they would be exposed to on their journey to Mars, a Mars One spokesman said they had no idea, but that figuring out a solution was a "high priority"). Seems like an advertising home run, right? There's no reason Mars One shouldn't consider that $6 billion in the bag.
#1. They Both Seem Like Giant Bluffs
To be fair, no one really knows the true launch capabilities of North Korean missiles. But their missile failures are well documented, and to date, none of their vague threats have amounted to anything. It seems Kim Jong Un, like his predecessor, just likes to rattle his swords every once in a while to stay on the front page.
AFP / Getty
Real threats to world peace have more than one telephone.
Mars One is the pet project of an eccentric rich person that currently exists in no form beyond his own imagination except a promotional video and a website (again, we cannot stress this enough). This project has no science behind it whatsoever -- it's some guy who wants to build a city on Mars. Additionally, the fundraising goals are stunningly unrealistic -- $6 billion in sponsors is a lofty goal for the Super Bowl, yet Mars One is assuring potential investors that 4 billion people will be tuning in to watch its Mars colony reality show. That's more than half the planet, and we're not sure all of them own televisions.
The people at Mars One actually seem to be aware of this, since they've already revealed what they plan to do with the money just in case the project doesn't reach its goal. Curiously, "disappear to Mexico" doesn't appear to be on their list of contingencies, although in all likelihood this is what Mars One will do either way.
"Mexico, Mars, it's all desert anyway."