Could you do NASA’s PR?

Last week I went to watch The Martian – a fantastic film that I’d definitely recommend.

If you’re planning on seeing the film, please stop reading now, minor spoilers! 

Aside from the great production and story-line, one thing that stood out to me was the character of the PR Director and NASA spokesperson Annie Montrose (played by Kristen Wiig). 

Among all the crises, she had the job of deciding what information went to the media and, more crucially, when. Or in some cases NASA had an obligation to share what they had discovered. 

This brought about a lot of conflicts between Annie and the rest of the team. Put very simply, NASA was thinking ‘we need to save our astronaut… Let’s cut corners and make it happen’. Whereas Annie ‘said we can’t cut corners, what if the public found out’.

The first thing I discussed with my boyfriend post-movie was this character and her role (clearly the PR part of my brain just doesn’t switch off). He assumed I wouldn’t like her as she was portrayed as a little heartless. 

But in fact it was exactly the opposite. Yes NASA was trying to save a mans life – that’s their job. But her job is to disseminate information to the media and manage NASA’s reputation – which is exactly what she did, and she did it well.

There is the question, of course, of how far do you go with ‘just doing your job’. In a situation like this, when someone’s life is at risk, is it acceptable to go against your own rules and morals? Do you do something against what you have learnt in your career?
Another scene that some might say made her seem a little heartless was when the media requested a photo of  Mark Watney (Matt Damon). He snapped a cheesey thumbs up shot similar to the picture above, and her reaction?… I can’t send that to the media! 

Again it seems a little insensitive but I feel that people don’t understand how difficult the media might be. What will they take from a less professional image and how will that shape the story that they write? 

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts on the character? 

Until next time…
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