I love National Geographic, so when I was contacted about filming a piece with them I got all excited, until I realised I couldn’t do the dates and recommended some others.
Void ended up doing the shoot and suggested some script. They dutifully ignored all his expert advice and instead hired some writers and Richard Hammond to present the feature on the physics involved in Yo-Yo.
My feelings on Richard Hammond are summed up well by Stewart Lee (video below) so I was not expecting to enjoy the National Geographic video. But I underestimated how mean spirited the piece could be.
The whole feature has a tone of anti-intellectualism, of mocking the different and cynicism which really saddens me given that it’s produced by a media group that I used to respect and enjoy.
Opening paragraph sums it up well, (Richard Hammond talking about Yo-Yos), “I’ve never really seen the point of them, I mean pusshh. Where’s the fun?”
And comments like, “Yes yo-yoing might seem boring but at least it can be dangerous too”.
Given the idea of science is to investigate nature, to look and learn about
any every subject and that encouraging curiosity is crucial to the scientific mission, I think this video is pretty shameful.
I don’t mind mocking Yo-Yos, I do it a lot in Down-Up. The notion of a grown man being obsessed with a child’s toy is funny (at least to me). I do mind a cynical, ‘ironic’ approach to knowledge and human endeavour.
National Geographic, try harder.