Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Media Portrayal of Geologists

I have been wanting to write a somewhat humorous post for a while, so we will take a break from the science...for now.

As a geologist I find I am often stereotyped by people I meet and, by the media portrayal of my profession as a hard drinking, hiking boot wearing, bearded, bush man/woman who wears only plaid and carries a knife on my left hip and a hand lens on my right. Now, if you have met me, you know that most of this is actually true....but maybe me and others are all just conforming to the media portrayal of geologists. Perhaps, deep down I am a geologist who wants to dress like a hipster who wants to dress like a punk, but I am afraid of bucking the stereotype and being cast out of my profession by not appearing to be ready to hike through the apocalypse on any given day. In my case unlikely, but you never know.

Yukon Cornelius
Above you see a photo of Yukon Cornelius, in my opinion, the most baddest assedest geologist to ever lace up boots from the stop-motion Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (epic Christmas tradition) that was made in 1964. He is so far the earliest mass media portrayal of a geologist I have been able to find. Note his gun, hammer, pack, knife, hiking boots and beard...this guy is clearly ready for everything the North can throw his way. In fact, he defeats the abominable snow man (bumble) also shows how awesome he really is and sets the bar high for future geologists to follow.

Check out the awesome video where Yukon Cornelius introduces himself and his noblest of professions.

Sorry for the poor quality. The original video was taken off YouTube. You only need to watch the first 28 seconds to meet Yukon Cornelius.

The next great portrayal of a geologist is from American Dad. Their take on geologists is somewhat non-stereotypical, however, it is quite effective at showing how wonderful we all are. 

I know, there are no hammers, knives, etc....none of the quintessential geologist tools. However, I think that the James Bond approach really works and shows what it really means to be a geologist...in short, everyone thinks you're awesome. This leads nicely into our next geologist portrayal by a former Bond.

For our next video we look at the Hollywood take on what a typical geologist is. To do so we go to a classic geology movie: Dante's Peak,  in which we see the power of nature vs. the power of a kick-ass geoscientist played by Pierce Brosnan. Guess who wins?!? 

Pierce wins!! He showed that volcano that geologists are the stereotypical survivors. As you can see there is not a whole lot of actual geology in Dante's Peak, but despite that Pierce delivers an excellent performance as the "whistle-blowing geologist that no-one wants to listen to until it is too late." Classic. It is also another great media stereotype of geologists as nerdy, but rugged, people who care more about rocks, water and gases than people. This one is also partially true (we also care about beer). This leads to our final video, which leaves the realm of fiction and brings us back to reality where we see the stereotype in the flesh. 

What can I say? It's true. We all love beer. While the other sciences are held together by "findings", "labs" and wearing white coats, the glue that binds the geology profession together is: beer. It also helps to ensure the continued survival of geologists into the future by providing just enough social lubricant help us shake off our woodsy hermit side and start shacking up together.   

Ok, so that is is for now. I really have only just scratched the surface of geology stereotypes (pun intended). Please comment on any geologist stereotypes that I have missed or any that you have observed. 

Red Green would say "keep your stick on the ice"...I say "keep your hiking boots laced"



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