It wasn’t a good week for me and
things called Mars. Both Mars the planet and Mars the corporation
(manufacturer of such confections as M&M’s, Snickers,
Twix and Skittles) managed to piss me off. I have what I think are
good reasons for my rage, and, if you’ll indulge me,
I’d like to share them with you.
Let me start with the Red Planet, because it’s the easier
of the two targets. I’ve never really liked Mars very much.
Mars is to Earth what Canada is to the United States — a
cheap imitation that, no matter how hard it tries, can never match
Mars lacks flowing water (it’s all ice, like in Canada);
it’s bitterly cold (the average temperature is minus 81
degrees Fahrenheit, like in Canada) and there are no signs of life
(like in Canada). The only cool thing about Mars is that its two
moons are named Phobos (fear) and Deimos (panic), but that coolness
is more attributable to the Earthling who named them than the
But until last week I had put up with Mars. Before then, the
planet pretty much did its thing while I did mine. I liked it that
way. Then NASA had to get in the way and send a remote control car
and a color camera that cost taxpayers god-knows-how-much to take
pictures of Mars.
Now with all the attention it’s getting, Mars is
developing a superiority complex. No longer is the planet minding
its own business and staying out of my way. Mars is all over the
news with new pictures of the planet’s surface surfacing
daily. I could understand getting excited if we got some pictures
of Martian dragons and unicorns, but all I ever see in these
pictures is rocks and dirt.
Even NASA scientist John Grant admits on nasa.com that so far
the findings have been dull: “When I first saw the pictures
from Mars, I caught myself saying, ‘I know this place,’
because it looked like places I had seen on Earth.” What kind
of places? Empty ones full of rocks and dirt, like Canada. Maybe
it’s just my sadistic side talking, but I’d like
nothing more than to see the Mars rover crash into a Martian rock
or drive off a Martian cliff.
And then President Bush went and said that he wants to put a man
on Mars by 2015, which will only cost more money and further
inflate Mars’ ego. There’s really nothing to be gained
from such a mission. Going to the moon in 1969 served a purpose: to
win the space race and piss off the Russians. But in 2004,
America’s opponents have changed drastically. Iraq and al
Qaeda don’t have space programs (that we know of, at least),
so what are we trying to prove and to whom are we trying to prove
it by going to Mars?
So that’s why I’m not getting along with Mars the
planet. Now on to Mars the corporation.
This Mars, unlike the planet, was at one time cool, which makes
my newfound dislike even more upsetting. Mars has long been an
American institution. M&M’s, Skittles and the rest
— all delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I was willing to
overlook the alteration of the traditional M&M’s
red-yellow-green-orange-dark brown-light brown color scheme in
favor of the more modern (and inferior)
red-yellow-green-orange-dark brown-blue scheme.
But then last week I’m at the Diag Party Store, and I see
that the scheme has once again been altered. M&M’s only
come in two colors now: black and white. It’s part of
“The Great Color Quest,” a contest launched by the
people at Mars in which the six lucky consumers who find bags of
M&M’s filled with all of one of the proper colors will
receive a three-day trip to Los Angeles and a Volkswagen Beetle
Convertible in the color corresponding to the M&M’s they
What a pathetic and shameless ruse. Mars destroys an institution
to move some product.
If that’s not bad enough, the black and white
M&M’s don’t even look black and white. Black is
more of a dark purplish-gray, and white is more of a light
purplish-gray. What happened to the days when Mars promoted
diversity via their M&M’s? A bag of M&M’s was
once a microcosm for America — a celebration of our
diversity. Now a bag of M&M’s is just a vomit-colored
mess — a celebration of corporate greed and vomit-colored
So what should be done to settle my disputes with Mars and Mars?
I don’t even know anymore. I’m too confused.