Netflix’s Bill Nye the Science Guy re-runs have been a lightning rod for controversy, and Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe appears to have been sucked in by the buzz of the electric field. A viral meme unfavorably comparing the two men made the rounds on social media this week.
The meme in question addresses criticism that Bill is masquerading as a real scientist on his new Netflix talk show Bill Nye Saves the World. The program has particularly irked some viewers on segments discussing scientific consensus on issues not necessarily accepted by the general public, such as evolution, vaccines, climate change and GMOs.
A face of blue collar America to some due to Dirty Jobs, Mike found himself pulled in for comparison. The meme above calls out a so-called hypocrisy in people who will support Rowe’s advocacy for working class jobs, even though he doesn’t have one, but will then criticize Bill Nye, a mechanical engineer with a host of accomplishments in his field, for being a comedian talking about science.
For the Dirty Jobs host, the criticism is nothing new. Throughout his career, Mike Rowe has been periodically attacked by naysayers who insinuate he is out of touch with the subjects of his program, or somehow not qualified to host it due to his own background.
“I first responded to this newsflash a few weeks after Dirty Jobs premiered, way back in 2003, when a crusading critic in Seattle rushed to inform his readers that I wasn’t ‘an actual worker.’ I’ve been responding to that same revelation ever since…. Every month, for the last fourteen years, it occurs [to people] that I don’t possess any of the actual skills required to work in the industries my TV show highlighted. This breathless disclosure is usually followed by the ‘truth’ of my actual resume – which includes six years in The Baltimore Opera, three years in the home shopping industry, and hundreds of other dubious hosting gigs that apparently disqualify me from having an opinion on the nature of hard work and skilled labor.”
Furthermore, Mike was annoyed by the idea that he had ever tried to label himself “the hard labor guy” in the same way that Bill had associated himself with science “even as he denounces skepticism,” said Rowe. He claimed to have always attempted to downplay his expertise of the industries being presented on Dirty Jobs, referring to himself as a “perpetual apprentice.”
It’s worth noting that Mike downplayed his own criticism of Bill Nye and his program in his response to the meme. Rowe remarked that he had once been on a panel with the scientist and found him polite and respectful, despite the fact that they no doubt shared differing opinions on several subjects.
“To be clear, I have nothing against Bill. I met him a few years ago, and he was a perfect gentleman. We did a radio show together, as I recall, and though I suspect we might disagree on any number of things, he was both thoughtful and polite to me and the rest of his guests. However, I would never juxtapose myself with Work, in the same way Bill has juxtaposed himself with Science.”
— Mrs. Cobb (@RJRAnatomy) April 27, 2014
Mike Rowe has been no stranger to controversy himself. After the win of Donald Trump, he came forward with a message that criticized both candidates, but conceded that the GOP candidate won because he was able to connect with working class voters in a way that his opponent was not. It’s charge that was levied against the Clinton campaign before she even lost the election, particularly by Bernie Sanders supporters.
“The people wanted to be seen. Donald Trump convinced those people that he could see them. Hillary Clinton did not.”
Outside of Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe has been a strong advocate of filling the skills gap — a wealth of some five million jobs in the U.S. market that remain empty due to a lack of workers trained to occupy them. Speaking around the country and in videos online, he has underlined the benefits of choosing one of these career options over a four-year degree.
“And just because you’ve earned a degree in your chosen field, it doesn’t mean you’re going to find your ‘dream job.’ Their imaginary existence just might keep you from exploring careers that offer a legitimate chance to perform meaningful work and develop a genuine passion for the job you already have. Because here’s another dirty truth: your happiness on the job has very little to do with the work itself.”
What you think of the meme’s comparison of Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe and Bill Nye the Science Guy?
[Featured Image by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen]