March 24, 2014 by Roe
“Today’s assignment: Write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog.”
Alright, so yesterday I commented on three blogs and after weighing the comments I left and debating how much I was inspired by the posts, I decided I wanted this post to be about Cosmos and why I believe it will positively impact the future of pop culture.
I commented on the ALL THINGS SCIENCE blog (You can see my comment here) expressing my excitement for the return of intellectual/scientific programming to a mainstream media channel (even if it is FOX…). In my eyes, this is huge.
Last night’s episode was killer, by the way. It talked about COMETS, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Halley, and stars. I love the graphics, the animation, I love Neil deGrasse Tyson narrating and leading this “Spacetime Odyssey”, continuing to carry the still-blazing torch of Carl Sagan. It’s awesome, inspiring, enlightening, and absolutely refreshing to this a show like this make headway, even with the controversial creationists nipping at Cosmos’ heels. We get to see the both sides of the public’s reaction to science in real time and no matter what the other thinks or believes, this can mean nothing but good because we are finally talking about these things out in the open. Science is making good dinner/social media conversation, making up for lost time when it fell out of the regular conversation scope for awhile; Blame it on the postmodern age if you must but whatever the reason, science has made a comeback in our daily dialog and these conversations won’t be going away anytime soon.
Another thing I mentioned in my comment yesterday, was how happy I was to see Star Trek-alum Brannon Braga’s name in the Cosmos credits. Good for him playing a critical role in Cosmos (Executive Producer) and ensuring its success! The world of science and the world of science-fiction are very closely related in my opinion.
When in comes to fantasy and science-fiction, it’s believability that is important; When it comes to real life scientific facts and calculation, it is the imagination that must be called forth so that the scientist may be encouraged to continue discovering. The two are crucially linked. For example, warp drive and transporters – They don’t exist in today’s world, but knowing how far we’ve come scientifically, technologically, we know that one day it may be possible, and possibility and believability are two skeleton keys on the keychain of innovation and can be the promise of a new tomorrow.
Before we accepted our solar system as heliocentric, something probed the mind of Copernicus. It must’ve been part imagination and part “what if”. Through observation and staring at the night sky, he somehow figured it out and let me tell you, his discovery was probably not motivated by prestige, popularity, money, or fame. The questions presented themselves to him and he fervently searched for the answers, devoting his life to something he cared so deeply about.
I’ve been watching Star Trek since I was practically born. There’s a home video floating around somewhere where at the age of 2 or 3 and while teething on a wooden spoon, I am captivated watching Next Gen or Voyager playing on the screen. And because of this early exposure to Star Trek, I’ve always credited Captain Janeway as being my first legitimate, positive, female role model (and these days I’m more vocal about it because I think it’s important to talk about) and I have my dad to thank for that; He was the one who realized the importance of presenting a character I could look up to as a young girl, especially within the strange, patriarchal-based world we currently live in. I don’t think he could have anticipated that that sense of allegiance continues to carry over now at 23-years-old, but I think I look up to Janeway more now than I did then. I will even go so far as to say I would not be who I am today, had Captain Janeway never been introduced to me. I’m 100% sure of that. (I can talk about how much Captain Janeway has influenced my life ad nauseam, but that is a different post for a different day.) 🙂
What’s so great about Star Trek is that it tells stories that are relatable, memorable, and innovative. After our planet had been explored and charted, where else were our stories supposed to go but to the stars? Gene Roddenberry was smart enough to realize that. Since TOS (The Original Series) with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, et al, Star Trek has projected an ideal future of people working together to solve problems regardless of their race, gender, (and in this case) species. It gave (and still continues to give) people a myth to live by, to follow (For more on Star Trek, myth, and Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ I suggest watching William Shatner’s 2012 documentary ‘Get A Life!‘ where all this is broken down really well), to better inform our lives somehow. There are archetypes that break through in every movie, in every installment of the TV series that personally reflects on our inner being and make us reflect on ourselves as human beings.
This is a great, wondrous thing. Despite television’s upsets, downfalls, and passivity and all the garbage that somehow makes it on to the screen (Neil Postman would probably have more to add about this), here we have a phenomena of sorts: A fictional TV show so uplifting and marvelous it has inspired, encouraged, and motivated hundreds if not thousands of people to become doctors, astrophysicists, scientists, engineers around the world. These stories are real. They have been documented and cataloged, especially in quite a few Star Trek documentaries. This continues to fascinate me and I think it is an important thing to recognize – Pop culture can lead to marvelous, positive things!
When a show like Cosmos gets put on the air, it is no small order. It is a massive step (the first of many, I hope) towards progress, towards uplifting the human race to get out there, explore, learn, think, do the most with our corporeal bodies as we humanly can. When children watch this show they are captivated, when lost 20-somethings like myself watch this show we are temporarily calmed about our futures and eager to learn more. TV shows like this have the capacity to change, change for the better. This is the stuff that makes kids want to be a part of this world. Not feel the need to participate in a decaying social construct that encourages destructive behaviors and habits and treating human relationships with disdain and not compassion (i.e. the majority of Reality TV).
If we can collectively make a pact to create and influence positive pop culture, I am sure we can make this world a better place to live in, to be a part of, emotionally and scientifically. This is the beauty of Cosmos, the beauty of Star Trek, and the potentiality we all have to play a role in making good things happen in our world, by encouraging these wonderful things. We have been starved for too long. I welcome Cosmos as our first dose of delicious pop culture nutrition, and I for one can’t wait for my second helping.