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Science in the modern pop-culture

Even 10 years after its debut, Breaking Bad is still one of the most popular series in television history. Regardless of their age, gender and culture, millions of viewers around the world follow the thrilling adventures of Jesse and Mr. White. The villainous mastermind has become a famous archetype, and this show has made a remarkable footprint on pop culture.

Chemistry is probably the most complicated subject in school, and only a few people can relate to it and enjoy taking part. Science classes are often portrayed negatively in movies, unlike sports, games and literature. Football players, cheerleaders, and dealers have always been at the top of the food chain, while geeks and quirky artists only get to go on dates if someone makes a hilarious bet on them. Smart kids are being bullied even today, and in pop culture, girls still tend to choose a dominant partner over a brainy one.

Thanks to the appearance of influential techies, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Adam D’Angelo and David Karp, more and more young people are motivated to undertake a career path in the science and technological field. After surviving the many torments of high school, smart youngsters can develop their ideas and innovations with software, tools, interface and systems.

Fortunately, modern filmmaking is starting to rethink its long-lasting prejudice against intellectuals. However, soldiers, secret agents and warriors are still often the ones who save the world at the end of the day, there are many recent movies that represent scientist as heroes. Hurray! Ironman is a genius of mechanical engineering and far the most entertaining Marvel character (alongside Deadpool). In Interstellar, the smart daughter relocates mankind into space, and so they can all live happily ever after. Matt Damon was able to “science the shit out” of cultivation so he could survive alone in Mars. Hopefully we will see more and more examples in these types of movies in the near future.

Astronauts have always been a symbol of achievement, strength and persistence, but what about the thousands of people who help make space travel happen? All of the physicists, engineers, software developers, IT specialists, and analysts who dedicate their lives to this process remain anonymous to the public. They are the real heroes of our modern society, helping up to enhance life on Earth or colonize a new planet. Together they achieve goals that most people can only dream.

NASA Curiosity - Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It is time to bring attention and glory to the scientists and engineers in our modern culture, because the future of mankind depends on it. We need to teach boys that observing matters with a microscope is much cooler than shooting a gun toy. We need to motivate our girls to dare to take risks instead of blending in with the crowd. Somehow, we all need to understand that cooperation is the key for endurance, and educating people will solve more problems than punishing or slaughtering them.

To make this goal happen, science has to be popular. Science, technology and engineering must be more appealing for young people than anything else. This is why I highly praise the creators of Breaking Bad. We have seen hundreds of movies about criminals operating in restaurants, strip-clubs, casinos and hotel rooms, but we definitely haven’t seen a giant crime laboratory before. Mr. White evolves from a failed chemistry teacher into a badass genius. His greatest weapon is his brain and he is smarter than everybody around him, therefore he can reach the highest levels of success. Using pure logic, rationality and chemical materials, his actions never lack entertainment value. This series demonstrates science as stimulating, dangerous and prosperous, and therefore totally rewrites the awful stereotypes about nerds.

Being smart means being cool – and this is what should be taught. Whether one is an innovative thinker, debater, craftsman, executive, advocate, logistician, supporter or explorer, all individual skills are essential for a mutual benefit. Multimedia is probably the most influential and entertaining content to convey this message, so let’s do it together!

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