Hello and welcome to Nineties Institute examination. I will be proctoring this examination. You must use a standard, wooden, graphite-based No. 2 pencil for all portions of the test. Bubbles next to your answers should be filled in completely. All other bubbles should be empty. Be sure to make your marks heavy and dark.
Question 1: When you think science, what comes to mind?
A) Petri dishes
B) Graduated cynlinders
C) Mysteriously smoking noxious compounds
D) Rap music video parodies
Question 2: Who is to thank for bringing you endless hours of science-based entertainment?
A) Your parents
B) Your teachers
C) Your classmates
D) Viewers like you
Question 3: When something in science excites you, your immediate reaction is to:
A) Record it
B) Share it with the class
C) Continue careful observation
D) Chant wildly, "Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!"
If you answered all or mostly "Ds," you must have been a fan of Bill Nye the Science Guy. Or at least you watched it in middle school science class.
For some reason, this tall, lanky self-proclaimed "science guy" had a sort of hypnotizing quality over us. Maybe it was the cheesy way in which he and his cast mates sought to relate to contemporary youth culture. Maybe it was his ultra-dramatic voice-overs indicating the scientific value of the subject at hand. Maybe it was his bowties.
In retrospect, probably the bowties.
Although Bill Nye the Science guy was decidedly directed at a preteen audience, it was chock-full of teenage pop culture references. Perhaps the show's writers formulated the ratio Teenage Culture: Preteens ≥ Coolness and thus inferred that Teenage Culture + Science = Cool. It's all very scientific, but I swear it adds up in a deductive reasoning type of way.
In short, the show capitalized on 90s youth culture standards to entice tweens to learn a thing or two about science. If there was ever a more absurd adult-use-of-teenage slang than the catchy Bill Nye slogan, "Science Rules!" I'd like you to show me. Sure, we all knew it was corny, but Bill and the gang presented it to us with such enthusiasm that we often couldn't help but get caught up in it. Often before presenting some seemingly commonplace object, a voice-over would boldly declare "This is the _______....OF SCIENCE!" The ______ of science, indeed.
It also sometimes took on an children-directed sketch-comedy type quality à la All That, such as in this charming cross-dressing segment featuring Bill Nye as the lovely Vivian Cupcake:
Cheesy, yes, but at least you learned something and experienced some mild form of educational entertainment. Bill Nye the Science guy was into well-worn comedic territory in a big way. For some reason as of yet to be explained by indoor kids and middle school science teachers (i.e. the show's main audience,) Bill Nye loved parodies. And not necessarily clever ones, either. We're talking more Weird Al than Christopher Guest. Many of these parody sketches went a little something like this:
Aside from the regular sketch-comedy-esque spoken bits, most episodes also featured a parody music video as well. If I hadn't already mentioned Weird Al, this would be a great time to reference him. Unfortunately, I've already used that one so I may just need to let the following video speak for itself.
I present to you, the grunge-tastic Nyevana as "Smells Like Air Pressure:"
You may be asking yourself, wait, did they really just parody Nirvana in full costume to illustrate a scientific phenomenon? The correct answer would be yes, yes, they did. Nothing is too far in the name of lightly comedic science educational television programming. At least they got the correct dirt-to-hair ratio on that one.
As Nyevana, Sure-Floats-a-Lot , or Carpoolio, the Science Guy and his pals certainly had their finger on the pulse of America's youth. At the very least, they could provide some pertinent information on its beats per minute or arterial pathways.
Check it out:
Funny Bill Nye Onion Parody
Even funnier follow-up inquiry