Why Is Neil deGrasse Tyson Beefing With Demi Lovato?

Demi Lovato versus Neil deGrasse Tyson. Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

Okay, well, the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and singer Demi Lovato are apparently beefing over the best thing to call aliens, a truly pointless battle of semantics if you ask me. But, while we are here, please allow me to elaborate.

In an interview promoting their UFO investigatory series Unidentified, extraterrestrial enthusiast Lovato said the following in reference to potential visitors doing harm or staging a takeover: “I really think that if there was anything out there that would want to do that to us, it would have happened by now. But I think that we have to stop calling them aliens because aliens is a derogatory term for anything. That’s why I like to call them ETs!” Though they claim to have communed with some ETs at Joshua Tree, Lovato is admittedly not a space expert. But as an astrophysicist, deGrasse Tyson is, and in an interview with TMZ, he came out of nowhere to correct Lovato’s record. Below, his (pretty smug, it must be said) critique:

All the aliens that I’ve ever met, they have no feelings, so to be worried about offending them by calling them alien — what is she thinking is going on in the heads of species of life from another planet? I know it’s very considerate of [them] but really? Really? When I refer to aliens, just to be specific, I always say “space aliens,” alright, and then, what we used to call aliens on Earth, undocumented immigrants, that’s what the new term is for them. And I’m all-in on that. So the only invocation of the word “alien” is for creatures from outer space that want to kill us all. And so I don’t care what they feel, I’m not worried about — plus, why should I even believe they know English? So yeah, I’m not all-in on that. I don’t get it. 

A lot to unpack here. One, deGrasse Tyson has met aliens, plural; two, despite their alleged lack of emotion, the aliens do actually feel one thing, which is animus to do mass murder? Unclear why we are bickering over subjective interpretations — just arguing for the sake of argument as if this were a damn philosophy class — when clearly we have bigger fish to fry. We know the skies are crawling with UFOs; we (at least here at the Cut) suspect a good number of those are helmed by extraterrestrial beings and therefore eventual contact seems inevitable. Maybe some of them are hostile, and maybe all of them are hot. When we find out, I won’t care what either of these two space nerds want to call them. Just show us the aliens! Thank you and good night.

Why Is Neil deGrasse Tyson Beefing With Demi Lovato?