Read this from chels (my comments are below):
Neil deGrasse Tyson has a few things to say about ‘Gravity’ | BuzzFeed
Because we don’t all have the education or knowledge to be able to imagine ourselves in space the way a cinematic masterpiece can place us there. It’s not that mysterious, you pretentious windbag.
I have so many problems with Neil deGrasse Tyson’s approach to science communication, and usually I just pass it off as “eh, this guy ain’t for me,” but this tweet really makes me angry. Sometimes he knows how to spin a soundbite, but more often than not, he comes off as condescending and pedantic. So why do we enjoy this “make-believe space” more than the reality of manned space missions?
How about this: how about the notion that film has the capability to show us realities outside our own, to take us places most people will never go.
How about the fact that our government and our public education system place little emphasis on the importance of science and the endeavor of spaceflight, making it hard for people to really understand what it takes to put humans on the International Space Station.
How about the idea that a filmmaker can say more in 90 minutes than NASA can say in 10 years of press releases.
Or how about this: art is the lens through which science transforms into wonder. We can do all the most amazing science in the world, but if we don’t have eloquent, engaging, inclusive science communicators (even if they happen to be film directors in disguise) then the work will remain a mystery to the public.
I’ve heard there are scientific inaccuracies in this movie, and I hardly care. If the most talked about movie of the season is one that centers on astronauts, a spacewalk, and satellites, I’d say we’re on the right track. I’m seeing the film on Tuesday and I can’t wait to be wowed.
(See also: the best response to this tweet)
In general, I like NdT a lot. Certainly more than Chelsea does. But I have to agree with her here. I’m pretty sure that Neil was really just trying to fire up support for our manned space program in a time of epic governmental nincompoopery, this is kind of a clumsy way to do it, and he sounds like a bit of an ass.
Someone’s love for a sci-fi movie that is set in space does not preclude them from also loving actual people in space, and Chels lays out some excellent reasons (I particularly like the “art is the lens through science…” part). Especially when the director of that movie goes to such great lengths to get things scientifically right. Plus there’s that response tweet at the bottom, which is the sickest burn.
There’s also the fact that NdT is just plain wrong. Gravity set a record for October movies with a $55.6 million opening weekend haul. With an average national ticket price approaching $9, this means that a hair under 6.2 million people went to see Gravity this weekend. That’s way more people than would ever watch real people in space right?
Wrong. To date, more than 9.1 million people have watched Chris Hadfield wring out a washcloth from the ISS. And that’s just one video. I’m not an astrophysicist, only a humble biologist, but I am pretty sure that 9 million is more than 6 million.
I’ll forgive NdT for this, because I sense that his heart was in the right place, but loving Gravity does not a space-hater make. To me, the fact that this movie exists at all is proof of how many people are looking up.
If you want another way to fire up support for our space program, maybe this is a good time for me to plug my YouTube video about that?