Does the math check out?
Since seeing the Martian, my friends and I have been non-stop quoting a line said by Donald Glover: "I've done the math. It checks out." Somehow this wasn't already meme-ified, so I generated one.
Prefer more context? Here's the full clip:
It's an older meme, sir, but it checks out
A quick search brought me to the Know Your Meme page "It's an older meme, but it checks out." It just so happens that this meme originates from the ultimate space franchise Star Wars. In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader asks Admiral Piett if a ship (it happens to be Han Solo and crew, but the Imperial Forces are unaware of this at the time) has the proper clearance codes. Piett replies "It's an older code, sir, but it checks out." Here's the original clip:
This has since grown into the meme "It's an older meme, but it checks out." Here's a gif of the same scene, though it can be, and has been, applied to all sorts of memes and is often incorporated into reaction images on forums.
This brings me to the topic of sci-fi apologetics. I first encountered the term apologetics in the podcast 99% Invisible. Apologetics has traditionally been used in reference to theology. For example, someone might argue that time is not to be taken literally in the bible, and that God did not create the world in seven actual days, but in seven metaphorical days. Apologetics allows people to believe something by letting them create their own system of logic around that belief.
This sort of logic can also apply to sci-fi. The expression sci-fi apologetics was first used in print in the 2012 book Make It So by Nathan Shedroff and Christopher Noessel, though it popped up in a handful of forums before that. The earliest instance I can find is from 2004 if the date on this post is correct.
99% Invisible producer Sam Greenspan explains it like this: "The most interesting lessons from sci-fi come when you assume, for the sake of argument, that everything in sci-fi is there for a reason—even things that look like mistakes."
So let's assume that the math, science, codes, and all other theoretical technology in sci-fi checks out. This assumption allows people watching sci-fi to sit back and appreciate the story rather than get caught up in the details. I would argue that the phrase "it checks out" can improve the quality of our lives by giving us permission to ignore the logical inconsistencies when it comes to far-fetched sci-fi or technological concepts in beloved movies and tv shows.
But still I nitpick.
Jackets in Continuum
I find that I'm able to easily buy into things like complex time-travel logic with multiple timelines, but when it comes to something familiar and not theoretical, I can no longer suspend my disbelief.
I've been watching this sci-fi show called Continuum. The main character Kiera travels back in time from the year 2077 to present day. I happily accept this logic, but what I cannot accept is that she owns a million jackets. WHEN DID SHE HAVE TIME TO BUY ALL THOSE JACKETS? She's not someone who particularly cares about fashion because she's singularly focused on trying to get back to her son in 2077.
Here are seven different jackets worn in two seasons of television:
I know what you're thinking: it just doesn't check out.