Bill Nye burst onto the national consciousness as the host of a Saturday morning kids TV program. He was there to get kids excited about science, and, by most accounts, he did a great job at that.
Then, for a few decades, Nye disappeared from the public view. He’d pop up here and there, but, for the most part, he was living on reruns of his program and pursuing other things … like studying other fields of science.
Then, as politics began to grow more entrenched in modern politics, Nye reappeared, speaking directly to his former fans, many of whom were politically active Millennials and younger GenX voters. Bill Nye was pro Climate Change Science, and he was pro evolution and pro Cosmos and sex education and a host of other issues that put him squarely on the left side of the political spectrum. His shows are currently being rerun on streaming service Netflix, the go-to media choice for many of his younger adult fans.
Suddenly, the goofy, funny “Science Guy” was a political weathervane. People either loved him or hated him based on their political inclination. Likely at this very moment, there’s an argument happening on social media about whether or not Nye is a “real” scientist.
But now Nye is in the news for a reason that may put him at odds with some of his most ardent supporters. Nye is suing Disney, claiming the massive media company withheld more than $9 million in earnings from his eponymous TV program. In the suit, Nye accuses Disney of “fraud” and “breach of contract.”
It’s an interesting PR conundrum for many fans and haters of the Science Guy. For the fans, many of whom appreciate Disney, ABC, ESPN and the perceived left-leaning stance of the media empire, Nye’s suit could be seen as a defection. Then again, for those who have denounced Nye for his vociferous support of climate agendas and evolution in schools, tend to also despise the Mouse. What to do? What to do?
Well, some are already asking “why”… According to the Nye camp, the lawsuit came after Disney, via its subsidiary Buena Vista, demanded repayment of much of his 2007 earnings. The company blamed an “accounting error.” So, Nye says, he had his own accountants take a look at the books and, lo and behold, he not only didn’t owe BV any cash … they owed him. At least, that’s Nye’s story. And, so far, he’s sticking to it.
Now, Buena Vista cut off Nye’s royalty payments, and the Science Guy turned Accountant Guy is fighting mad. What will this suit mean for the Bill Nye brand? Tough to say this early on, but it might get more attention pointed at Nye’s current Netflix program, which has been a point of cultural contention in its own right for the past month or so.