NOTE: This post is loaded with spoilers. If you can handle that, you may be able to handle the post.
SECOND NOTE: This post is a public service announcement to jerds* (jaded nerds) who watch Interstellar, wipe the tears from their eyes, try to stop their brains from spinning, and then declare: “Worst. Movie. Ever.”
It’s nearly Oscar time and Interstellar got nearly totally hosed with nominations (it got 1, for musical score). I’m posting this now because it’s possible Interstellar (and Chris Nolan) getting ignored will put the movie back on the nerd discussion circuit. Which would be great, because I am one nerd who really liked this movie, almost as much as I like calling out a Flying Snowman.
A Flying Snowman argument is a particular phenomena found in the nerd community where someone craps on some science fiction story by claiming that snowmen can’t fly. Yes, if you clinked* the link in the previous sentence, you’ll find that John Scalzi coined the phrase, because he’s a precocious genius. In a nutshell, everyone agrees that a snowman can walk, sing, dance, eat hot soup, and live, of course, but some will insist that he can’t fly. It is just one of the many arguments that holier-than-thou jerds like to launch at cool nerdy things to feel superior or coolly jaded.
Interstellar is loaded with Flying Snowman bait. Knowing how cerebral the director and writer are, it may be that they deliberately built the Flying Snowmen on purpose just so the jerds could vent their spleen at something, and the rest of us could jettison them like a first stage booster. Here they are, so hopefully you won’t act like a jerd.
- Love. It burns the jerds that Cooper signals his daughter because of love, that love does seem to be the thing that transcends dimensions and physics, and that there’s no hard physics to support it.
- Gravity. Solving gravity? Launching an entire space station (actually an O’Neill colony) from below the Earth’s surface? The jerds burn over these things; they rage about the lift weight of an O’Neill, for example.
- Inside the blackhole – crying foul about what happens to Cooper inside the black hole. The physics of the inside of a blackhole is essentially unknown. There are theories, but as the scientists in the movie repeat several times, no one really knows.
- Near the blackhole. How Brand escapes the black hole, how close the planet (and it’s sun) are to the blackhole, there’s all kinds of jerdish hard sci-fi outrage to be had here. Again, we don’t know that much about black holes. Anything in a movie about what happens up close to the event horizon is pure speculation. And when it’s awe-inspiring, and moves the story forward, and touches our hearts or makes us grip our seats, that’s a very good thing, jerds.
- Wave planet. Jerd: The wave motion is wrong, the waves are too high and will collapse sooner, the shuttle’s strength against the waves, etc.
- Ice planet. Jerd: “You can’t have frozen clouds!” Shut up, jerd.
- Placement of the wormhole. Jerd: “Why was the wormhole dropped near Saturn? Why not near the moon, or at Earth’s G5 spot or something closer? Worst. Superbeings. Ever.” Because of the story, jerdhole. The Endurance crew knows it has at least 4 years of lost time with Earth because of the 2 year cryosleep trip to Saturn. It lays the emotional groundwork for the rest.
- Wormhole – You’re a jerd if you accept some or most of the following, but not necessarily all: a wormhole can be dropped into a specific place, a wormhole can be stable, a ship can transit a wormhole safely, that the transit takes as long or short as it does in the movie, that it looks like that inside and out, and that it doesn’t cause any undue problems for Saturn, Saturn’s moons, or Saturn’s rings.
- Metaphysical infodumps. Jerd: “Brand said she chose Edmunds because it was love traversing dimensions. That is totally, like, not plausible physics.” Relax jerd. Not everything said by a scientist in a movie is the writer lecturing you about science. If anything, Brand is admitting she’s subjective, and biased, but she’s saying, all else equal, if the thing that tips the balance is that she loves one of the guys, there may be something behind it, so what the hell go for it.
- Forgetting the deus ex machina. Jerd: “The god-like beings can drop a wormhole, futz with the inside of a blackhole, but it is somehow wrong or silly for them to teleport astronauts across time and space back to comfy hospital beds!” Once again, super being goddish things. Maybe the super beings are human and they wanted to give Cooper closure. Maybe they knew Cooper needed to get his ass to Edmund’s World to help Brand.
*Scalzi, Shakespeare, and Taleb Nassim have inspired me to coin more terms. English is malleable, gorram it, so why not contribute a new term or three?