Oh, we have plenty of patience for the fake stuff. Who doesn't think Frankenstein is cool? A mad scientist running around steals body parts, zaps them with electricity and, whammo, he creates a flat-headed yet ultimately misunderstood monster who hates everybody except one sweet little girl he finds sitting by a stream. He only likes her for about two minutes while she's plucking flower petals and throwing them into the current. When she runs out of petals, Frankie Jr. realizes it would be really interesting to see whether bigger things float in water. In his way, he's a nascent scientist himself.
But does anyone admire him for his scientific curiosity or his inherent feel for empiricism? Hell no. All he gets is a bunch of angry villagers with torches and sharpened sickles after him.
The kind of science in monster movies was persistently and reliably interesting. I recall another mad scientist (Why is it that we don't get mad scientists anymore, at least not since Edward Teller died?) whose girlfriend's head comes off, but she doesn't die. He keeps it in a pan with a load of wires and tubes attached to it, and resolves to find her another body. I don't remember the details. He brings home plenty of bodies, but I don't think any of them ever fit.
Real science simply can't compare. Humorless white men holding press conferences, telling us they've just discovered a molecule that may or may not be a precursor to a water molecule on the surface of one of Saturn's moons, somehow doesn't cut the mustard. We don't want precursors, damn it. We don't even want the slime mold that may live in the water indicated by the precursor, depending on how you analyze the data. We want blood-sucking green monsters invading our beloved planet, unifying humanity in an epic struggle, or failing that, at least sucking the life out of everyone not being paid $20 million in the lead role.
Unless, of course, it's Tom Cruise. Most of us would love to see alien bloodsuckers have a go at him.
But recently, some really boffo science was brought to my attention. It seems scientists at places including Arizona State University (Wait a minute: Am I allowed to mention that place here? Or will I be mobbed and murdered by red-and-white-shirted, torch-wielding villagers?) have discovered that if you make tiny robot cockroaches, the other roaches, often against their better judgment, will follow that robot wherever it goes. Cockroaches, it seems, have lousy vision, so you don't even have to bother making the robot roaches look real. According to Jose Halloy, one of the researchers from Brussels, you just have to drench them in really hot cockroach hormones. Most of the others will follow them anywhere.
Any competent scientist will tell you what a grave fallacy it is to transfer what you've learned about one species onto another. But I'm no scientist, competent or otherwise. Nonetheless, this has got me worried that Mitt Romney will be our next president.
I've never met the guy, so I have no idea whether he smells sexy or otherwise, but since I'm a visually oriented human and not a smell-oriented cockroach, this doesn't matter. What matters is that the guy is 6 feet 2 inches worth of man meat. OK, so his hair's dyed. It's no store-bought quickie; the man spends some heavy shekels on "the do." He's toned and tan, slick and smooth. He's got perfect white teeth that could light up an opera house, and as far as I can tell, not one physical flaw.
Who cares that he panders to anybody he happens to have a conversation with? Or that he's anti-gay, anti-choice, pro-war, anti-environment and an intelligent designer who believes that the ultimate truth about the nature of everything was revealed to Joseph Smith while he stared into a hat with a crystal in it? They guy's physicality veritably screams, I'm the sexiest beast on the block. Come and get me.
And if the cockroach study is any indication, straight men will like him, too. It's not only sex appeal that counts; it's charisma as well. Although, I guess if Britney Spears was nominated on the Democratic ticket, she might give him a run for his money. But I doubt that will happen. It's hard to go to rehab and run for president at the same time.
The only thing that gives me any solace at all is the fact that in the roach study, only 60 percent of the bugs followed the sexy robot cockroach consistently. The other 40 percent did what they always did: stayed out of the light and tried not to get stepped on.
So let it be with politics. Gosh darnit.