There was a time in recent memory where a television production company was keen on creating a “Big Brother” reality show featuring Mars One explorers. Mars One, of course, is trying to send people on a one-way trip to the red planet as its first colonists.

The show has since been axed in pre-production1 Though a documentary is reportedly still in the works.

If the show had happened and carried through to the ultimate fate of a Mars One crew – death on Mars, or much sooner into the mission – it’s another step toward the return to people’s morbid appetite for bloodsport and similar death-fueled events. Millions would have tuned in to see what could potentially be the first humans on another planet, and the consequences – unlike carefully controlled “reality TV” like “Survivor” – would be deadly.

Sure, we sadly have animal fighting and other terrible, illegal things going on that fall into the genre of bloodsport. And some consider boxing and MMA to be bloodsports, and perhaps, in the strictest of sense, they are.

But I’m talking about entertainment-centered events that involve a parade of human death. And not accidental deaths like in NASCAR either, but events where the fates of the unlucky are sealed and expected. A Mars One documentary or television show could certain be considered such a morbid extravaganza since space flight and exploration has notably ended in tragedy a few times2. Space is a brutal and unfriendly place for life. MarsOne, SpaceX and other private companies racing for the stars don’t have quite the experience and expertise of NASA.

The Romans and others were engaged in bloody, death-filled events for centuries that weren’t finally phased out until the early Middle Ages3.

As we approach our theoretical limit of 12 billion people on earth4 and live increasingly longer, human life may become less sacred. And we’re already obsessed with death and horror in our fiction, and are seemingly more desensitized to atrocities and terrorist attacks every year.

Whatever there’s a market for, someone will manage to exploit. If watching astronauts die in space will rake in ratings – and therefore profits – the taboo may eventually be broken.

And from there, watching more doomed souls for the sake of entertainment might only become more commonplace, especially as amateurs make their own streams.

This, of course, is already happening as people have taken to streaming murders, suicides and other violent events onto Facebook Live[^5]. Once that explodes into an even more popular occurence, the floodgates may be very difficult to close.

[^5] Harper, Paula and Mullin, Gemma. “How Facebook Live suicide and murder videos are spreading online and what to do if you see inappropriate content” The Sun. May 16, 2017. Link

  1. Griffiths, Sarah and O’Callaghan, Jonathan. “No more ‘Big Brother’ on the red planet: Endemol axes plans for reality TV show that would record life of Mars One explorers - but a documentary will still be made” Daily Mail. February 23, 2015. Link 

  2. “Wikipedia: Space Shuttle Columbia” Wikipedia. Link 

  3. “Wikipedia: Gladiator > Decline” Wikipedia. Link 

  4. “Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained” Kurzgesagt. December 22, 2016. Link