' ' Cinema Romantico: The Ultimate Neil deGrasse Tyson Rebuttal

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Ultimate Neil deGrasse Tyson Rebuttal

As devoted frustrated longtime readers know, this blog’s #1 nemesis is Neil deGrasse Tyson. Not because Neil deGrasse Tyson holds the feet of climate change deniers and various other troglodytes to the fire, qualities for which we significantly admire Mr. deGrasse Tyson, but because of his nincompoop-ish need to constantly nitpick movies not for aesthetic or thematic deficiencies but for failure to adhere to the most stringent (i.e. pointless) scientific realism. Lord, how this grinds Cinema Romantico’s gears. And we are not alone. We are not alone because last month at The AV Club Sean O’Neal winningly, simply decreed “It would be awesome if Neil deGrasse Tyson would shut it.”

This stemmed from Mr. deGrasse Tyson’s following Twitter declaration: “In my day, the word ‘Awesome’ was reserved for things like curing Polio and walking on the Moon, not for food or TV shows.” Oh, for God’s sake. Put me in a sack and throw me in the Hudson River. If you don’t think the banana pudding at Hattie B’s is awesome, if you don’t think Phil Hartman as David Brinkley on that old Saturday Night Live Bush/Dukakis debate sketch is awesome, then what the hell are we even doing on this stupid blue rock? This tweet, at least, was apart from the astrophysicist’s usual fixation on movie plot holes, but still…..he is, as ever, despite always and forever being light years smarter than this blog, a complete idiot.

Anyway. I have been reading Alexander Walker’s 1978 book, The Shattered Silents, about Hollywood’s fairly brisk transfer from silents to so-called talkies. In its rush to transition, studios became fearful of actors with tenuous voices, over-correcting by focusing on performers’ speaking voices, disregarding everything else, like all-important presence, reducing screen acting to mere elocution. To do so, studios consulted voice specialists and university professors, like Ray Immel, Dean of the School of Speech at USC, who, per Walker, expressed of those (un)willingly in his charge that their “vocal capacities should be determined by tests specially devised ‘to eliminate the human element’”, which is one of those advisories that can only be proferred by absolutely brilliant people that have no idea what’s going on.

A film director of the era, William C. deMille was so un-taken with this overthought school of thought that he unleashed a withering screed: “If David of the Old Testament had been obliged to figure out Newton’s law of gravitation and then laws of centrifugal force governing the stone he was about to hurl, as well as the relative density of the skull he was about to hurl it at, I wonder if he really would have hit Goliath.”

Needless to say, I stopped reading. I wanted to cut and paste that deMille quote right then and there use it to rebut every deGrasse Tyson bellyache about improper starfields in “Titanic” and how “Gattaca” wrongly cites Pluto as a planet even though everyone knows that “Gattaca” merely saw the future where grousers like deGrasse Tyson have been overruled on their Pluto-Is-Not-A-Planet horse hockey. After all, as The Shattered Silents goes to show, when Hollywood gave too much power to specialists in the wrong field, everything went to pits. And no doubt if deGrasse Tyson was put in charge of a movie production, the product rendered would no doubt wind up as “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” for the periodic table tie crowd, not to mention if the dude had been around during Biblical times he totally would have pulled a “Well, actually” on Samuel.

No comments: