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| | |-+  Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: A Review of Episode 1
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Author Topic: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: A Review of Episode 1  (Read 3612 times)
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« on: March 10, 2014, 04:43:41 AM »

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: A Review of Ep. 1

By Leslie
March 10, 2014 - africaspeaks.com

The reincarnation of the Cosmos series was something that I eagerly looked forward to after being quite enthused with Carl Sagan's version. I did not see the series when it first aired but I had the privilege of viewing it online a couple years ago. Perhaps more than his scientific expertise, Sagan's personality and genuine fascination with the universe made the thirteen-part series a gem. It was Carl Sagan's dream that the true story of the Universe would be known by all.

"Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey", a contination of Carl Sagan's original series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage", was visually magnificent taking full advantage of the technology not yet available in its original incarnation. It premiered last night, thirty-four years after the original series, at 9 p.m Trinidad and Tobago time on the National Geographic channel and several of Fox's networks.

If you did not know that Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) was involved in the project beforehand, then perhaps that may have eluded your awareness as his name, as well as Ann Druyan's, Sagan's widow and collaborator, occupied minimal space on the screen. Perhaps it was a carefully thought out strategy but it showed some restraint on the part of MacFarlane whose input is undeniably fundamental to the show. It also gave the idea that the show was bigger than those involved with prime focus going to science. There was also understandable concern about Carl Sagan's irreplaceability. However, the new host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, brings his own spunk and individuality to the narration. He seems genuinely passionate about his love for science and I'm certain that Saganists would appreciate this. There is much more that can be said about the awesome graphics that the series employs but alas, I leave that for the poets.

What was missing from this continuation of the Cosmos series was placing scientific ideas in a more accurate, historical context. Although there was a Black narrator, (and an unwarranted appearance by Barrack Obama before the premiere – another story in itself), the Euro-biased/Western voice still dominated. This was rather disappointing. Although revisionist historical perspectives were existent even before Sagan's times, there are more numerous sources recognizing non-European contributions and knowledge systems today. Evidently, the world still revolves around the European story despite more and more people acknowledging pre-European encounters with cosmic science. The information is there. Even if there may be differing perspectives, they should be included – and in a major way too. If we are to understand the great mysteries of the universe, suppressed voices resulting from historic racism, gender biases and other forms of negative discrimination must be included in narratives to help illuminate the cosmic story. A simple rehashing of the perspectives shed by Sagan – as well intended as he was – is an act of laziness which is inexcusable as far as I am concerned.

I'm uncertain as to how the rest of the series would progress. I'm almost certain though that it would continue to be a visual spectacle and provide basic, already-known information to the novice as well as re-inspire the familiar. However, despite all the on-the-surface marvels, without addressing blatant pro-Western biases then there would be no substantial progress from Sagan's original.

Posts: 1

« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2014, 01:53:58 AM »

I find it most interesting that some non-European perspectives are still waiting to be validated by Europeans purported perspectives of our mysteries.  I think the question must be asked, is this a deliberate act of laziness on the part of some Europeans to continually suppress more accurate accounts of historical evidence of the Cosmos? 
Posts: 1523

« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2014, 01:32:12 AM »

Leslie, it appears to me like someone read your article which was published on March 10th 2014 and developed the points you made. Check it out below...


5 Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes on ‘Cosmos’ That Get The Side-Eye

April 9, 2014 | Posted by K. Abel


Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a world-renowned astrophysicist who has won the admiration of the scientific community, and laymen alike, with his inviting and sometimes entertaining personality. People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds are taking interest in learning because Tyson has introduced science into pop culture. On March 9, 2014, Tyson extended his knowledge to television audiences by hosting the first episode of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”, which is produced by Seth McFarlane (creator of “Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad”) and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The concept of the show is a follow-up to the “Cosmos: A Personal Journey,” produced by Tyson’s mentor and friend, the late Carl Sagan.

Tyson is making history with every word he writes and speaks. However, he falls short when it comes to delivering historical information on his series. The narrative driving “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” is presented from a Western, Euro-centric perspective. Some statements made on the show are historically inaccurate. Other statements clearly place importance on European contributions to science while excluding discoveries made by other cultures. Racial and cultural inclusion within science history would make the information he provides on “Cosmos” accurate and empowering to all.'

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