The Sixth Corridor: The Contextualization of the TV Series Cosmos “A Spacetime Odyssey“
Keywords:popular science, hegemony, formula, Cosmos, culture war, climate change, creationism
The paper provides a framework for understanding the role of popular science in the sphere of the culture war currently being waged in the USA, and also in other places in the West. It focuses on the instrumentalization of the TV series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and a reading of the cultural political messages woven into this narrative. It first describes the development of popular science as a means of establishing a modernist worldview which, through popular literature, but above all through TV series, has become an integral part of the upbringing of numerous generations in the West. It points out a number of useful, but also deeply problematic aspects of using popular science in education, and underlines its inherent ambivalences. Particular attention has been paid to the mechanism by which popular science takes on the character of an instrument bringing audiences closer to relevant knowledge akin to truth. In this context the concepts of media, television, genre and formula are described, as means by which popular science is established as the vehicle for a very specific worldview. In this way, the deconstruction of the narrative pattern of the Cosmos series, created by Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Seth MacFarlane, has been prepared. The key conventions of the series are highlighted, e.g. the specific way of presenting facts, the significant use of special effects, or the presence of speculations about the future, and the inventions of narratives such as the Ship of the Imagination, the Cosmic Calendar or the Halls of Extinction. All this has been done in order to show the utility value of popular science narratives in the context of the culture war that has been waged in the US for decades by, roughly speaking, proponents of liberal humanism versus conservative fundamentalists. Particular attention has been paid to defining the concepts of cultural war and hegemony, as key to understanding long-standing tensions and conflicts between creationists and humanists in the US. The paper shows how the authors and producers of the series consciously engaged in criticism of the creationist refusal to accept a series of facts relating to the process of global warming. At the same time, it looks at criticism of the series from the creationist perspective. An analysis of the culture war shows that scientific topics have been instrumentalized and suggests their profound value for every sociocultural context. The paper looks at the reading of political messages into a popular science narrative, and highlights the importance and value, but also the danger of such acts. The concluding section stresses the fact that the series Cosmos supports a certain way of thinking about the world around us, and emphasizes its utility value in promoting a specific liberal progressivist worldview.
Bergman. Tabe. 2018. „American Television: Manufacturing Consumerism“. U The Prpaganda Model Today: Filtering Perception and Awareness, edited by Joan Pedro-Carañana, Daniel Broudy and Jeffery Klaehn, 159-172. London: University of Westminster Press.
Broks, Peter 2006. Understanding Popular Science. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Cawelti, John G. 1974. „Myth, Symbol, And Formula“. Journal of Popular Culture 8 (1): 1-9.
Cawelti, John G. 1969. „The Concept of Formula in the Study of Popular Literature“. The Journal of Popular Culture 3 (3): 381-390.
Shinn, Terry and Richard Whitley, ed, 1985. Expository Science: Forms and Functions of Popularisation. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company.
Gitlin, Todd. 1977. „Spotlights and Shadows: Television and the Culture of Politics“. College English 38 (8): 789-801.
Gitlin, Todd. 1979. „Prime Time Ideology: The Hegemonic Process in Television Entertainment“. Social Problems 26 (3): 251-266.
Grejling, Entoni Kliford. 2015. Rasprava o bogu. Beograd: McMilan.
Grant, Barry Keith, ed, 2003. Film Genre Reader III. Austin: University of Texas Press, Austin
Forrest, Barbara. 2008. „Still Creationism after All These Years: Understanding and Counteracting Intelligent Design“. Integrative and Comparative Biology 48 (2): 189- 201.
Franklin, Sarah. 1996. „Making Transparencies: Seeing through the Science Wars“. Social Text 46: 141-155.
Bucchi, Massimiano and Brian Trench, ed. 2008. Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology. London and New York: Routledge.
Đorđević, Jelena (ur). 2009. Studije kulture. Beograd: Službeni glasnik
Hilgartner, Stephen. 1990. „The Dominant View of Popularization: Conceptual Problems, Political Uses“. Social Studies of Science 20 (3): 519-539.
Hunter, James Davison. 1991. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books.
King, Kenneth P. 2000. „Educational Television: 'Let's Explore Science'“. Journal of Science Education and Technology 9 (3): 227-246.
Kirby, David A. 2003. „Science Consultants, Fictional Films, and Scientific Practice“. Social Studies of Science 33 (2): 231-268.
Lewenstein, Bruce V. 1987. „Was There Really a Popular Science 'Boom'?“ Science,Technology, & Human Values 12 (2): 29-41.
Neale, Steve. 2003. „Questions of Genre“. U Film Genre Reader III. Edited by Barry Keith Grant, 160-184. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Pedro-Carañana, Joan, Daniel Broudy and Jeffery Klaehn (eds). 2018. The Propaganda Model Today: Filtering Perception and Awareness. London: University of Westminster Press.
Schatz, Thomas. 2003. „The Structural Influence: New Directions in Film Genre Study“. U Film Genre Reader III, edited by Barry Keith Grant, 92-102. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Storey, John. 2003. Cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Stjuart, Hol. 2009. „Kodiranje, dekodiranje“. U Studije kulture, uredila Jelena Djordjević, 275-285.Beograd: Službeni glasnik.
Tomašević, Milan. 2014. „Značenje razaranja. Određenje i kontekstualizacija filma katastrofe“. Glasnik Etnografskog instituta SANU 63 (1): 199-214.
Tomašević, Milan. 2020. Kosmologika: kontekstualizacija popularne kosmologije. Beograd: Etnografski institut SANU.
Whitley, Richard. 1985. „Knowledge Producers and Knowledge Acquirers: Popularisation as a Relation Between Scientific Fields and Their Publics“. U Expository Science: Forms and Functions of Popularisation, edited by Terry Shinn and Richard Whitley, 3-28. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company.
Zakarya, Nasser. 2015. „Exhibiting Cosmos“. Technology and Culture. 56 (3): 738-744.
Dan Arel. "13 ways Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos" sent the religious right off the deep end". 14. June 2014. https://www.salon.com/2014/06/14/13_ways_neil_degrasse_tysons_cosmos_sent_the_religious_right_off_the_deep_end_partner/
Casey Luskin. "Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson: Same Old Product, Bright New Packaging". March 10, 2014. https://evolutionnews.org/2014/03/cosmos_with_nei/
Jay W. Richards. "In a Ninth Episode, Marred by the Now Familiar Rigid Ideology, Cosmos Tackles Geology and Climate". May 5, 2014. https://evolutionnews.org/2014/05/in_a_ninth_epis/
Jay W. Richards. "When Ideology Trumps Science: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Cosmos on Global Warming", August 6, 2014, https://evolutionnews.org/2014/08/when_ideology_t/
Seth MacFarlane hopes ‘Cosmos’ counteracts ‘junk science,’ creationism, March 7, 2014, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-qa-seth-macfarlane-cosmos-science-creationism-20140305-story.html#axzz2vIc9ccMT
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.