James Cameron: The Last Hope for Hollywood

James Cameron personally attended the International Mars Society Conference in 1999. He delivered the Keynote Address then spent the entire weekend moving from panel to panel with his camera crew, sitting in the audience alongside other attendees while taking extensive notes on a yellow legal pad with a ball point pen. That was before laptops and only a year and a half after the release of his record blockbuster “Titanic.” It was a bold dramatic meaningful appearance which said: I care about Humans-to-Mars; I want to get this right. For the next two years he continued to send teams of videographers to record every presentation. Then, two purely idiotic movies were released — “Red Planet,” “Mission to Mars” — and Cameron wisely decided to shelve his project until the cultural debris settled. Periodically interviewers will ask, “What about Mars?” The most important consistent reply he provides with confidence is: “I have done the research. I know Mars. When the time is right it will happen.”
James Cameron has not only laid the foundation for making one of the most important films about Mars in our generation, for a time he even sat on NASA’s Advisory Council – a panel of experts and advisers appointed by the agency’s administrator. He remains on the science team for the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory. The Mars Science Laboratory, known as Curiosity, is a NASA rover scheduled to be launched between October and December of 2011. One can only hope this window of opportunity is not corrupted by competition from less informed directors, once again.
“I’ve been very interested in the Humans to Mars movement—the ‘Mars Underground’—and I’ve done a tremendous amount of personal research for a novel, a miniseries, and a 3-D film.”
These very rough drafts of Mars mission equipment were created by Digital Domain nearly ten years ago to accompany Cameron’s Keynote Address. Although they were of high-quality for CG at that time, he nevertheless apologized for not being able to bring final renders. The point of showing these images though was to demonstrate his support for Mars Direct and in particular humans to Mars; Cameron wanted to show fellow space enthusiasts he could be relied upon to “get the facts right” and — that this is important. (As an aside, during his keynote the name for Factual Fiction was conceived: if we could get the facts right a “New Mars” in the public’s imagination might lead to a rethinking of humans to Mars.)
“Exploration is not a luxury we can’t afford; it’s a necessity we can’t afford to lose. Pushing farther into the unknown is our greatest endeavor as a civilization and our deepest responsibility to future generations.” Near-term, realistic — without aliens, laser, or guns — someday James Cameron will change the way we think about Mars. No doubt there are many right now saying, “Come on Cameron!”

The follow are excerpts from his Mars Society keynote address:

“People are always saying … we need to solve our problems right here on Earth before we go spending money out in space. It makes me want to vomit frankly. [applause!].

Check back in five hundred or a thousand years. People will still be talking about all the problems that need to be solved. We are never going to reach some utopian plateau where everything is solved so we can then, with lordly confidence, look around us for worlds to conquer as some kind of hobby. Not spreading ourselves outward into the solar system now, when we have the capability to do so, is one of the problems we have to be solving right here on Earth. [more applause].

We are really at a turning point. Go forward, or go back. By stopping, by stagnating, we go back. I look around at the turn of the millennium and see a prosperous, powerful, technologically unparalleled society which, collectively, has no purpose but to feather its own nest. It is a goal-less, rudderless society, dedicated to increasing security and creature comforts. .

Our children are raised in a world without heroes. [!!!!!!!!!!]

They are led to believe that heroism consists of throwing a football the furthest, getting the most hangtime during a slam dunk, or selling the most movie tickets with your looks and boyish charm. This is not heroism, and these are not valid tests of our mettle as an intelligent race.
Young kids need something to dream about, something to measure their value system against. They live in a sea of mind-numbing inputs, a point-and-shoot videogame world where it is hip to not care, where death and violence have no meaning, where leaders are morally bankrupt, and where the scientific quest for understanding is sooo not cool. Going to Mars is not a luxury we can’t afford … it is a necessity we can’t afford to be without.”