September 27th, 2016

NCC-1701 Nebula 2

Meme dissection!

There's a meme that says "That there are ten seasons of Duck Dynasty and one season of Carl Sagan's Cosmos tells you all you need to know about humanity."

No, it tells you that reality shows are really cheap and easy to produce and something like Cosmos is much more complicated. Far more research, writing (to make literally cosmic ideas comprehensible to a general audience), visualization of those ideas, and travel. Both versions of Cosmos (Sagan's and Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson's) were shot around the world. Duck Dynasty isn't. Both versions hired major film composers (Vangelis then Alan Silvestri) to score the shows. Duck Dynasty doesn't need anything that grand. The newer Cosmos added Hollywood-level special effects, animation, and voice acting. The original was a little more lo-fi, but got its messages across.

I love both versions of Cosmos. I've never seen Duck Dynasty except maybe when it was playing in the background at a bar. But I know both shows fit a niche and find an audience, and Cosmos had to do much more work to get there. It's more special.

Could there ever be 10 seasons or more of Cosmos? It's actually not outside the realm of possibility, in our vast universe of possibility — the show makers have said more shows could happen — but they wouldn't want the quality or educational value of the show to go down. Cosmos fans wouldn't want that, either, not really.

A lot of memes make me cranky, and this one made me want to parse why.

And now I want to rewatch Cosmos. Both versions.

(Finally, trivia: Carl Sagan did not in fact say "billions and billions" in the original Cosmos, but he did say "trillions and trillions." Think bigger!) Edit: Apparently I was wrong, but I, like scientists, must be ready to admit when I'm wrong!