Adam Savage is heading to Dragon Con in Atlanta this weekend and was gracious enough to talk to me about a wide range of things for the occasion. He's best known for his work on Mythbusters and his work lecturing and touring about science and discovery.
Through his career, Adam has taken very seriously the responsibility, through his show and other avenues, promoting the passion for learning and discovery that is a hallmark of his personality. Intelligence and scientific rigor seem to be shrinking sub-cultures in the landscape of American culture, and since conventions of all types are gathering places for underrepresented sub-cultures, including science nerds, we spoke quite a bit about his views regarding that.
Asked if he viewed passing on his passion for discovery via television and conventions as a responsibility,
"Yes. I totally do. I was in New York a couple of years ago and I was doing Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I don't even remember what we were talking about, but I was watching him and I remember thinking, 'Man... It's so beautiful how this guy moves through his career he's constructed, he's so clear about what his thing is.' Then I thought, wait, what's his thing? And I realized he's a communicator. He's really understood that his job is being a communicator and I realized that's actually one of my jobs, too. It really helped clarify for me an important thing that I do that I take seriously. I have a mission to maybe reach someone like me who might not have otherwise been encouraged to try the thing you want to try."
Part of that encouragement is in the world of fandom.
"When people find their fandom, the thing that happens is that people find a passion, and then they find a community for that passion. In my experience, finding that community that's in the same fandom as I'm in has been nothing but rewarding. I get the feeling when I go to Dragon Con and Comic-Con that a lot of people feel like that's really their time to step out. I think that's a lovely thing. By stepping out they can be themselves in world where they can't always be themselves. I really love the skeptic track and science track and all the various disciplines that Dragon Con delves into. It's an oasis for any decentralized community to come together."
"Things we're passionate about, as anyone who's been in middle school can attest, is something we can be vulnerable about. It's an intersection for someone to ridicule you, especially if you're passionate about something esoteric. It's funny, we are a nation that is constantly telling people to follow their dreams, and yet we also, in school at least, celebrate and demand conformity. And when your passion is for things outside the mainstream, like dressing up in costume, and anime, or building costumes and things, you're not going to find a ready made group at your high school in Tennessee for doing that. The fact that a place like the Internet and Dragon Con and Comic-Con and PAX are places where people can find a community and feel normal. That's the main thing. Because it is normal to have a passion for something."
Adam and I also discussed other things, including his love of Star Wars and what his hand-built Artoo unit means to him. And how he's going to talk to JJ Abrams about getting his droid into the next Star Wars film.
To listen to the full interview, head over to Full of Sith.
Adam will appear at Dragon Con in Atlanta this week, where he'll be performing his Mythbusters live show. You can get more details about that here.
Bryan Young is the author of A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination, and the editor in chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot!