By Andrea Plaid
When I announced at Wednesday night’s late night editorial meeting–I’m still recovering from it!–who this week’s Crush is, the Owner/Editor exclaimed, “That’s what I’m talking about!”
Anyone who can cause the otherwise unflappable La Editrix to flap…yeah, so this week’s Loved-Up.
But I’ll admit it: I’m late to this lovefest. Though he’s had an incredible 17-year career–if not controversial one, with his reclassifying Pluto from being the ninth planet in this solar system, as has been taught in US schools–I heard of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson in passing, like walking by a small crowd cheering about something-or-other but just not having the time to push through the crowd to see what’s going on. All I heard was “Black guy,” “scientist,” “astrophysicist,” and “YYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!” I promised myself I’d check out the commotion later.
Later–much later, like the other day–I saw (and reblogged) this on my Tumblr dashboard:
It took James Cameron 60 weeks to prepare Titanic for its rerelease, but apart from remastering the original at 4k resolution and converting it to stereoscopic 3D, nothing about the movie has really changed.
Well, almost nothing.
According to Cameron: “Neil deGrasse Tyson sent me quite a snarky email saying that, at that time of year [April 15, at 4:20 am], in that position in the Atlantic in 1912, when Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and staring up at the stars, that is not the star field she would have seen.”
“And with my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in. So I said ‘All right, send me the right stars for that exact time and I’ll put it in the movie.'”
So Tyson did just that, and Cameron re-shot the scene. According to the Telegraph, it is the only major technical change in the film’s re-release.
A Black astrophysicist corrected a white director that brought us that cog in the White Savior Industrial Complex, Avatar? YYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY! (Pssst–can you correct Cameron about that complex in Avatar, too, Dr. Tyson? Please?)
What I don’t get is snark–at least not the vicious kind–from Dr. Tyson. BAMF-brilliant? Yes. Can break it down as to why people need to become science-literate to help make their lives better on mulitmedia platforms, from books and columns, to PBS and podcasts, to Twitter? Absolutely. (In this sense, he’s like the Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry of astrophysics.) Doesn’t let bullshit fly–and gets a bit impatient when it happens–because he’s just that no-nonsense? Oh yeah. Doesn’t create false dichotomies between science and art? Doesn’t, won’t, and refuses. As he says in an interview:
“In my life experience, it’s not that bringing kids to the museum, taking kids to a museum, makes them interested in science…the goal here is not to make everybody a scientist. That’s not the goal. What a boring world that would be. You want artists; you want musicians; you want poets, novelists, comedians, actors. You want the rest of this. What matters is if they’re scientifically literate and maintain that literacy and curiosity throughout their lives, no matter what becomes their profession.
“Kids are born scientists. You don’t have to turn them on to investigating the world around them; they do that coming out of the womb. Kids turn over rock and poke at the millipede; they pick apart flowers; they bang on posts and pans. They will do things that are experiments in the world around them. So, the challenge isn’t getting kids interested in exploring the world around them. The challenge is staying out of their way. That is the challenge of the adult.”
And, in this closed-captioned video, Dr. Tyson explains how he got out of his own way regarding his “racial duty” of disseminating scientific knowledge in the media:
And, considering The Squee Heard ‘Round The R Virtual Office, I think quite a few of us are glad he did. Including me, his newest fan.