In case any of you need it, here’s a refresher course on why Seth MacFarlane is the Executive Producer of COSMOS, and why this is good for this country, and the world at large…
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Seth MacFarlane is not only “rebooting” Carl Sagan’s timeless educational classic “Cosmos” to the front lines of mainstream media, aptly titled: "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey" - but it’s being broadcast on the Fox Network.
Let me repeat that. Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey…an educational 13-part program about history, science, skeptical inquiry, evolutionary biology, physics, science, astronomy/cosmology and the importance of scientific literacy…will be broadcast via the Fox Network.
For all of you not familiar with Fox, let me clear up any misunderstandings. The Fox Network is a division of 21st Century Fox, which is responsible for such holdings as Fox Entertainment Group, who own 20th Century Fox film studio and Fox Television Network. Fox News Channel is a subsidiary of the Fox Entertainment Group, completely separate in it’s management and structure.
Why is this important? Because this is Fox News….
and this is Fox Network…
The same channel, two different broadcasting stations entirely (yes, this is confusing and precisely why it airs in America).
With that being said, we can all agree that whether or not you’re from or living in America, the airing of Cosmos on this media outlet is not only a “breath of fresh air” so to speak, but a much needed educational adrenaline shot to the jugular vein of America - mainstream media.
I encourage all of you to watch this brief clip of British American broadcast journalist (and Nightline’s lead anchor from 1980-2005) Ted Koppel on Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Show as a demonstration of how bad it’s gotten for the American public. When Ted Koppel, who is now a senior news analyst at National Public Radio (NPR) and contributing analyst to BBC World News America/NBC News, says that "Fox News is bad for America," you realize there is a hideous and corrupt problem going on, whereby Americans are routinely plagued with poor information and unscientific world views on a network retaining millions of viewers each year.
And we can’t forget that books like this exist to address the issue…
What I’m getting at, is that Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey is in good hands. The program will be aired on other networks, certainly, but it’s headlining network is the Fox Network and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. There couldn’t be a better time in this country and this world for a program of this calibre to be broadcast into the homes of the American public, serving over 300 million people a fresh dose of revised knowledge on the natural world. And not to single out Americans only, the entire globe will benefit from a Cosmos reboot, because all 7+ billion of us aren’t online all the time, certainly not on Tumblr and by far are not flowing directly to the sites, webisodes and podcasts a lot of us are familiar with and to which we receive our daily dose of “awe”.
What is surreal and absolutely humbling to me is the reality that Carl Sagan has had such a profound impact on the world for several generations and will continue to do so as long as there is a species called “human”. It’s inspiring. 30+ years since the original Cosmos and here we are, gearing up for a re-installation as an ode to the man who made it possible and a show which will be watched by ironically, “billions and billions” be it on television or the internet. What’s just as powerful to ponder is this….there will be more generations of children who will be introduced to Carl Sagan, yes, but to the reality and beauty of life itself through the cosmic perspective. Most of you know where I stand on religion; however, Carl Sagan truly is enjoying an afterlife, through all of us who share him and the wonders he’s communicated to us during his precious time on this planet.
Which leads me back to the original point of this post.
Seth MacFarlane isn’t “new” to the world of science communication. He’s dropped so many subtle hints to his love of science and science fiction via his animated series’ while rubbing shoulders with puns and quips directed to the embarrassing quality of education and faux news in this country. Not to mention his quick Carl Sagan shout out where he took a shot at the scientific illiteracy, corrupt mainstream media and rampant religious fundamentalism/creationism plaguing America (see clip, screen shot below).
Did you know that Seth MacFarlane is such an avid fan of science/education and Carl Sagan that he had Carl Sagan’s personal documents donated to the Library of Congress? From theverge:
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has donated a large collection of Carl Sagan’s papers to the Library of Congress, where they will be preserved alongside works by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Sigmund Freud, and many other important historical figures.
MacFarlane provided the funds that enabled the Library to obtain some 800 boxes of documents that include book drafts, “idea files,” correspondence, and even childhood report cards, notebooks, and drawings.
"We are honored to preserve and make accessible to researchers the legacy of Carl Sagan, a man who devoted his life to the study of the universe," said Librarian of Congress James Billington.
One of Carl’s childhood drawings/imaginings
You can read the official press release from the Library of Congress, HERE. And here’s another short article from dailygalaxy:
Carl Sagan’s passion for exploring worlds beyond our own began as a child growing up in Brooklyn, when at the age of five he began frequenting the New York Public Library to browse books that could give him a better understanding of the stars. He later reflected on the what he discovered: “There was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has never left me. Never ever left me.”
Sagan’s fixation continued and as a pre-teen he sketched his vision for the future of interstellar space exploration, currently housed in the The Library of Congress. The drawing featured newspaper headlines he predicted would happen in the future. Our favorite: "Epsilon Altair seen fit for human habitation."
Sagan pursued his passion into adulthood writing later: "All my life, I’ve wondered about life beyond the earth. On those countless other planets that we think circle other suns, is there also life? Might the beings of other worlds resemble us, or would they be astonishingly different? What would they be made of? In the vast Milky Way galaxy, how common is what we call life? The nature of life on earth and the quest for life elsewhere are the two sides of the same question: the search for who we are."
So…before you hate on the man for whatever reason you may have, get to know him first (he’s currently developing a new animated show to tackle the issue of immigration). I recommend watching the Forbes interview with MacFarlane entitled "Can Seth MacFarlane Save Science?" Although it’s a bold hypothesis, the interview is a pleasant and personal unmasking of who Seth MacFarlane actually is, how he views this country, the world, our human future in space and what kind of perspective is required of us all to get there.
Again, Happy Carl Sagan Day. Ad astra per aspera, indeed.