Five Times Neil deGrasse Tyson Ruined a Movie

Five Times Neil deGrasse Tyson Ruined a Movie

Astrophysics is a difficult science to apply to everyday life, but that’s a challenge that one opinionated scientist has decided to tackle head-on. Neil deGrasse Tyson, who earned his PhD studying the abundance of the Galactic bulge, has taken to spending his free time uprooting the logic behind some of your favorite movies, much to the chagrin of everyone on the internet.  

His latest victim? The guys and dolls of Barbieland. Not to be outdone by other internet loudmouths like Ben Shapiro and Bill Maher, Tyson took to Twitter to share his own opinions on the billion-dollar blockbuster. In particular, he used his many, many degrees to hypothesize the exact location of Barbieland. 

Despite the fact that the film very clearly places Barbieland off the coast of Southern California, Tyson used lunar rotation to put the fictional destination “between 20 & 40 degree North Latitude on Earth,” which, by his calculations, leaves it “somewhere in the Florida Keys.” He bolstered his geographical discovery by citing the existence of palm trees within the confines of Barbieland (a thing that also exists in Southern California).

But if we are to take what he says as truth, the relatively tame analysis does lend itself to some pretty dangerous implications. For one, South Florida is ground zero for rising sea levels; this means that at the rate things are going, Barbieland could be swallowed up by the ocean as soon as 2045. It also means that the oft-neglected Allan would be stripped of more rights under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ tyrannical crusade against his LGBTQ constituents. Worst of all, it renders Ken the misfortune of being a “Florida man.”

And again, this isn’t Tyson’s first run-in with an overly scientific analysis of a movie either. Here are four other times he ruined the fun for everyone with his galaxy brain… 


Back in 2020, Tyson had some choice words for the design of Elsa from Disney’s Frozen — namely, she was too physiognomically incorrect for his liking. He wrote that under the assumption that Elsa has a human-sized head, her “horse-sized eyeballs” would occupy “four times the normal volume within her cranium.” Not only did he point out something no one was thinking of, but he put together a string of ungodly visceral words in the phrase “horse-sized eyeballs.” In the words of the movie’s inescapable companion song, let it go. 

The Martian

Tyson took down a very critical scene in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi romp The Martian. It features a wild windstorm that leaves astronaut Mark Watney behind and presumed dead. But the scientist says that “at only 1% that of Earth, the Martian atmosphere is so thin, 100 mph winds would feel like a gentle breeze,” basically upending entire premise of the film. To Tyson’s credit, this is technically his domain, but as common people who have not been to space, we should be afforded the opportunity to suspend a little disbelief in the name of thrills and excitement. 


Allowing no room for metaphor or even acknowledging the common phrase “the gravity of the situation,” Tyson was very clear that the Sandra Bullock-George Clooney led film about two scientists stranded in space was mistitled. In a tweet, he wrote that the movie “should instead have been named ‘Zero Gravity,’” which sounds more like a middling SyFy original series than an Oscar-winning film. Despite Tyson’s criticism, everyone else — from NASA scientists to Buzz Aldrin — was impressed with Gravity (no zero) and understood the need for creative liberties.


During a sit down with Stephen Colbert, Tyson said the thing that made him hate Titanic the most was the easiest thing to get correct. As Rose is laying on the wood mourning the loss of her soon-to-be frozen lover after the catastrophic frenzy of the sinking ship, she looks up at the night sky. But according to Tyson, she’s not looking up at the right sky. From the exact day and time to weather conditions, he rattles off a list of things we know to be objectively true thanks to history, which means that we also know what the sky looked like on this fateful night. He even sent an email to James Cameron about it, negging Cameron’s perfectionist tendencies as a filmmaker. 

This time, though, Tyson’s nitpicky analysis worked in his favor as Cameron himself was sure to correct the error for the film’s re-release. 

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