SXSW Film Review: ‘Bill Nye: Science Guy’ Shows The Return Of A TV Icon


To ignore our celebrated culture of ignorance in a science documentary would be like ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. Thankfully, when the documentary’s subject is Bill Nye, and the directors are David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, no one involved has any intentions of backing away from an unfortunate trend of willful stupidity that’s become increasingly troublesome in recent years.

From very early on, Bill Nye: Science Guy shows us how he’s been something of a regular feature on Fox News segments, brought in as a foil of science and reason. One that’s ultimately able to be written off at the behest of any anchor who decides to throw the words “kid show host” at him.

Still, there seems to be something in those frequent on-air appearances that sparked something in Nye, who’s rededicated his life to the public spotlight. While Nye’s focus is still on children — he asserts that you need to get kids interested in science by age 10 or 11 for them to want to dedicate their lives to it — he directs a lot of his time and energy to public forums talking to adults.

If there’s a downside to Bill Nye: Science Guy, it’s that every subject it tackles warrants a full-length documentary of its own. His public debates with creationist Ken Ham, his ongoing feud (for lack of a better word) with meteorologist Joe Bastardi, an adamant climate change denier, or even Nye’s own relationship with the nature of fame all felt like they could’ve been explored more on their own.

To say nothing of the actual expeditions that Nye goes on, discussing the tragedy of what we’re doing to our ecosystem while a glacier literally crumbles in the background behind him — which could’ve filled an OJ: Made In America-length run time on its own.

Granted, there’s an inherent sense of frustration you get from those who so gleefully and arrogantly ignore the scientific consensus, but Nye himself is an admitted voice of hope and optimism. Through his level-headed persistence and constant civility, Nye truly believes we will make the right choice eventually, but only if we all work at it immediately.

Having once again put himself back in the spotlight, Nye once again becomes an ambassador for science, but also for the virtue of basic reason, and the sincere belief that humankind, particularly those that dwell within our borders, will some day soon accept science and reason once again.

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