The man who won the Nobel Prize for cancer-treating laser research is taking heat on social media. Someone dredged up a jokey promotional video from 2013 in which he is seen dancing with women who strip off their lab coats.
The old video only surfaced and started racking up views – and angry reactions – after French scientist Gerard Mourou, along with American Arthur Ashkin and Canadian Donna Strickland, won the Physics Nobel Prize for their laser research earlier this week.
‘Have you seen ELI’ extolls the virtues of Extreme Light Infrastructure, a pan-European research collaboration. Set to a reggae song about science and lasers, it features amateur dancing in labs and auditoriums.
The lasers must have made those labs really hot, considering that at 2:55, the women surrounding Mourou and his male colleagues decide to tear off their lab coats all at once (something you should never do in a hazardous environment). All of them are dressed in everyday work clothes, except for two in the front row, who reveal the relatively modest shorts and blouses underneath.
But it does not seem to have aged well in the era of female empowerment and #MeToo. Angry commenters have branded the video “embarrassing,” “sexist,” and plain “terrible.”
We shouldn’t idolatrise Nobel prizes, but still very relevant in our culture. This stuff is wrong at so many levels.
Also… WHY??? It’s just terrible.
— Dafnis Batallé (@dafnisbatalle) October 3, 2018
Some found it bitterly ironic that it surfaced the year that a Physics Nobel Prize was won by a woman for the first time in 55 years – an event that was supposed to be a step forward towards equality for women in science.
The whole #NobelPrize for #physics committee should resign. Not only they fail to find women w/ merit more often than e/ 50 yrs but they also find men like Mourou who asks their students to dance sexy in a physics promotional video financed w/public money! https://t.co/R6qS61Wt5F
— Florencia Tevy (@florenciatevy) October 4, 2018
While we celebrate Strickland, recall this guy also got the Nobel Prize
“What now about that institutionally filmed, official women-degrading dance video with the Nobel Prize winner Mourou…? When you are a Nobelist, the world dances for you.”https://t.co/NzVICVO93G
— Creso Sá (@creso_sa) October 4, 2018
Picking on a five-year-old light-hearted dance number to smear a man whose research involves fighting cancer, among other things, is just a low blow, some believe.
BREAKING: Random “science journalist” guy calls out humorous YouTube video featuring Noble Prize winning cancer-curer Gerard Mourou. Video shows some women being attractive, and a fast car! World now waiting for Twitter to lose it’s mind.
— Jay & Violent Mob, Insert Tribal Identity Here (@JAndViolentMob) October 2, 2018
And since nobody was forced to do anything, no harm was done, others argued.
A bit tasteless, but so what? You can’t ban stuff just because you think it’s tasteless, and to whom should he apologize? Nobody was forced to do anything, and if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.
— Tomas Gradin (@TomasGradin) October 3, 2018
All in all, the effort that has gone into bashing Mourou could have been better placed elsewhere – like actually promoting female scientists.
Imagine if the attention wasted on the alleged sexism of Mourou was instead spent on Strickland’s accomplishment.
— Viktor Arvidsson 🕊 (@anotherday____) October 4, 2018
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