Our nation’s foremost pop-culture astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson arrives once again to discredit Hollywood offerings from this summer’s blockbusters.
Tyson has – along with Bill Nye – grown into one half of the left’s two-headed media-friendly Science Hydra. Many are familiar with Tyson’s “scientific” analytics getting directed at the content of films. At times he can be insightful with some of his applications, but just as frequently he side-steps common sense.
I find myself torn on the subject of Neil’s commentaries, given my love of bad films and heckling the risible content. While at times he seems my contemporary in this regard just as often he strikes as being a pompous fun-sucker; his detailing of the scientific liberties and violations of physics displayed onscreen feel more like self-aggrandizement than jocular “infotainment”. Therefore in proper heckler fashion I’ll resort to breaking down Tyson’s cinematic breakdowns.
One recent example: During the brief furor over the appearance of a “gay scene” in a new Disney film Tyson offered us a meteorite of his wisdom. “FYI – As a percent of total, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” contains fewer gay characters than found in the general population.” The issue here is applying high-minded societal standards of reality to a film featuring talking furniture and a magic spell turning a prince into a man-beast. Simply put, within that construct I doubt people are expecting an accurate mirror onto our world.
His latest insights appear courtesy of a video segment he recently shot for The Late Show. In typical fashion when it comes to Sci-Fi films his critiques are heavy on the science while not allowing room for the fictional drama. Case in point, his issue with “Alien Covenant”, the upcomiing installment involving a space crew sent to colonize and populate a different planet.
“There is no sensible space mission that’s going to send humans to a planet before we send robots. Because if anything is going to do some killing, it’s going to kill the robots first, and not the people. Because that is going to tell us, ‘Let’s try a different planet.’ So, I don’t know what they’re doing there.”
Sure, a very sound and pragmatic-sounding mission objective. Except Tyson leaves off one consideration. When the story is “send robots – robots get attacked – let’s look elsewhere” you have a far less gripping film. You also end up with about a fifteen minute run time.
Next he takes on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, where Neil has a problem, with stuff.
“I think most sci-fi films that have stuff going on in space, they all have sound…For ‘Guardians’ it would be a silent movie for all those scenes in space.”
Well, doesn’t that sound like a more enjoyable epic action film? Oh…actually no, that would NOT sound like one. It would sound like nothing, in fact.
“I used to lose sleep over this, but then I realized: if there’s enough interesting things going on…then you can distract me from all the science you’re getting wrong. Soooo — a walking-talking tree, a raccoon that insults people, a green woman…okay, we’re there.. I’ll just sit back and watch.”
I love the image of Tyson stumbling into the Hayden Planetarium late, due to rolling in the sheets, sweating about the bastardized science in “Starcrash”. Though he is able to get on board with a sarcastic raccoon note that this was not the case with an anthropomorphic grandfather clock and singing candelabra however.
Lastly Tyson takes a potshot at one other sci-fi classic-to-be, the movie adaptation of “Baywatch”. Of note is a scene where Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Zac Efron compete in a race while carrying refrigerators. This is something the nerd king states is a celluloid nothing-burger.
“I hear he’s to the point where he’s carrying two refrigerators? Now here’s the rub on that. A refrigerator is mostly empty space… In his wrestling days he’d be putting people over his head and tossing them out of the ring. No, he’s strong enough he could easily carry two refrigerators — I’d bet they’re not even fake. Why wasn’t it three?!
Two things. A wrestler could weigh around 250-300 lbs. I feel silly explaining to an astrophysicist that professional wrestling is a staged affair, and that the “tossing” is greatly assisted with cooperation and choreography.
Second: while I do not know the exact model of chiller used in the scene, it does closely resemble the GE GSE25HSHSS side-by-side with ice/water dispenser. Now double that product, and add the weight of the frame the units were lashed to, and you have the men hefting around 650 pounds. To answer your question, why wasn’t it three, Neil? Because you’d be approaching half a ton! Additionally, consider they were racing in beach sand. There is nothing easy about any of that.
The dismissiveness here is made more laughable by one thought. Simply try imagining Neil Degrasse Tyson struggling to carry a cooler filled with Tang across a hot sandy shore. I get the sense that would be a far less easy task to complete.