Or at least that’s what Bill Nye, the Michael Jordan of Edutainment, told the 8-year-old version of me. Of course, I accepted that concept fairly easily. After all, it makes sense that the “ ” would rule. Plus, Bill Nye was cool and funny, and I was allowed to watch his show as much and as often (through the use of a mystical device known as a VCR) as I liked!
So I did.
And I learned about a bunch of cool stuff: Lift, Kinetic Energy, Potential Energy, Weather, Biology… the list goes on and on. Bill Nye made Science cool for my generation, and I am truly thankful to him for that.
I’m slightly less thankful to him for this. [Language Warning]
After I watched that clip, I learned something new from Bill Nye:
Science doesn’t rule. Culture does.
Bill Nye, redeemer of many a boring middle school science class, has taken the goodwill he generated through years of excellent service in our culture, and parlayed it into a career dedicated to validating the Left’s premises.
He’s used his “Trusted Expert” status to push the climate change alarmism agenda on more shows than I care to list. Shows that, like “Last Week Tonight”, cater to audiences familiar to him. Audiences who know Bill Nye speaks the truth, because, just like me, they grew up learning from him. Plus, how on Earth could he be biased? I mean, he’s The SCIENCE Guy for crying out loud!
Meanwhile, with nothing even close to a Bill Nye analog, we on the Right are painted as anti-science.
How do we get around this? Can’t we find a conservative scientist and make him our Science Guy? Would that fix the gap?
Well, yes and no. I talked about the “Conservative Science Guy” problem on The Refinery this week, and Leslie P had a very good point regarding our movement’s perceived need to label all of our content as “Conservative”:
Leslie has it exactly right; the REAL power behind Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the rest of the Left’s rent-a-nerds is the fact that they aren’t considered partisan.
Which means that if we want to compete with them, we need to be subtle.
And believe me, we NEED to compete with them, because there are a LOT more coming. Edutainment is HUGE on YouTube, and is growing faster by the day. Spurring that growth are channels like the Vlog Brothers, VSauce, and CGP Grey, all of whom (in my opinion) tend to skew leftwards.
And then there’s Wisecrack.
I know that I started this article off with Bill Nye, but Wisecrack is what really motivated me to delve into the Edutainment arena. Wisecrack erupted out of the massive popularity of the channel “Thug Notes“, where Thug-Professor Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. delves into classical literature and provides viewers with the best in thug commentary. Thug Notes hits the sweet-spot for edutainment, combining humor and information with extremely well-done graphics and an aesthetic that is unique and interesting. Continuing the trend of the previously mentioned YouTube channels, Thug Notes also has a progressive bent… But it’s practically right-wing compared to its sister channel, 8-Bit Philosophy.
Case in point:
I’m not sure if you watched that. In fact, I doubt that you could stomach much of it at all, given the saccharine portrayal of Marxism it depicts.
But what about the people who don’t really know about Marxism? Do you think they came away from watching that with a negative opinion of said ideology? Judging by the number of likes(2,877) and views(103,579), I’d say the answer is “No.” What’s particularly subversive about this video, and the rest in the 8-Bit Philosophy line, is that they are part and parcel with Thug Notes. Just like with Bill Nye, people get drawn in by good content, only to be fed propaganda in an education wrapper. Sparky Sweets (while a role played by a comedian) is a trustworthy dude, he gives you the straight scoop on a ton of books that would be a hassle to read.
You wouldn’t expect him to be in cahoots with any particular ideology, would you?
Well, apparently, he is. And he’s letting his viewers know just how great Marxism is.
Which is why WE need to copy their model.
Thankfully, we have the talent, and the technical ability to do so, we just need to move away from the “For Us By Us” mentality. Take Prager University, for example. In this video, Adam Carolla (who is kind of a big deal, even to non-conservatives, hint-hint) talks about some pretty conservative stuff.
It’s great, high-quality content, but if you’re not already a conservative, how exactly are you going to find yourself on that video?
The answer is, you probably aren’t.
That is by no means a knock on the content, as the goal of Prager University is to educate and empower conservatives, not to convert new people to our side. That’s an incredibly important job, and one that I’m glad they’re handling. It also energizes me, because it’s quite clear that if they tried, the team who created that video could ALSO create a subversive “view funnel” for their conservative content, just like Thug Notes does for 8-Bit Philosophy.
They have the “Edu” part down, now all they need to work on is the “tainment”, and we’re good to go.
The other good news is that they may be able to find some help with striking that balance. The first place I’d look is Huntsville, Alabama, where you’ll find Destin, a Rocket Engineer, YouTuber, and Christian. He runs the excellent channel Smarter Every Day, which has veered into some pretty interesting conservative territory in the past. He’s a master of the Edutainment genre, and puts out awesome, family-oriented content. The second place I’d check out is EconPop, which really does about as much as is humanly possible to make economics interesting to people who don’t know why the should care about economics. Their fusion of economics and (surprise!) pop culture puts them at the forefront of conservative edutainment.
And who knows, they might even change the culture.