By Brent Glass
Television is rotting the World’s brain! Kids these days. Wrapped up all of their smutty TV shows, super hero movies, and rap music. Thank goodness I’m not part of that generation. Oh, wait…
Obviously I’m wrapped up in most of the aforementioned subjects; I write about them – for fun. However, I wouldn’t consider myself as hopelessly mindless, trapped in an intellectual black hole where no challenging thinking occurs. On the contrary, I consider myself to be a poignant thinker. I know, I know. It sounds like I need to have a hearty serving of humble dog crap (pie is too tasty). But, I promise there is some promise to many television shows today.
More often than not, television shows and films have underlying themes that tend to be the intended message of the filmmaker. Sure, these works can be taken at face value. It is entirely possible for someone to watch an intellectually and morally challenging show like Breaking Bad and have the following to comment: “That was badass!” Badass it may have been, but any person worth their salt in critical thinking should realize the previous comment is eons away from delivering justice. The argument is not as prevalent today, but some still hold that television is bad for intellectual growth. I must disagree.
Beauty lies within the eye of the beholder, and the capacity to glean greater commentary from popular culture also lies within that eye. Whether authorial intent was to provide deeper thinking or not, a big thinker can take what they like from a work. However, that is an entirely different matter. I write now to console those who believe most television is garbage. A great show, providing equal parts of education and entertainment, is now on the air. The show is called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and it’s time you watch it.
As the title suggests, Cosmos is a scientific documentary. Technically, the show is a follow-up to the 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted by Carl Sagan (an influence of Tyson’s), which pioneered the scientific documentary. A word might have just turned you off: scientific. Don’t let it. I have never been the biggest science fan. Admittedly I find many science-related breakthroughs and other events literally awesome, but no more than the average person. I took one science course in my entire undergraduate career – and that was because it was required. Hear me now: Cosmos makes science fun.
Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos has the aura of Star Wars. Mostly because Tyson’s voice is reminiscent of James Earl Jones’, but also because the show convinces the viewer that it is indeed an epic. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Neil’s voice, check out the video below (his is the second voice). Impressive, yes? Not only does deGrasse Tyson have the vocal chords to command attention, he is one of the smartest dudes in America.
You see, Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist. For those who are not certain what the field of astrophysics encompasses (me!), here is the Wiki blurb: “Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that that deals with the physics of the universe, especially with ‘the nature of heavenly bodies, rather than their positions or motions in space.’” Impressive. Most impressive. Tyson, along with being the host of Cosmos, is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He is a science communicator and as a result he can coerce others to think of science in a different light. And, we can trust he knows what he is talking about.
The first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey was whimsical. The precise enunciation of words coupled with the wonders of modern computer generated images created breathtaking shots, not far from the awe conjured upon watching Oscar-winning Gravity. Tyson introduced the show and began to tell the story of the history of the Earth, masterfully intertwining wondrous shots of the universe (many, many galaxies) and computer generated illustrations. Tyson breaks down the life of Earth into 365 days, illuminating what event took place when. Some information may seem rudimentary but other facts will fascinate; it is a show for the whole family.
I highly recommend this show.
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Development.