Isn’t this ‘safety’ issue about eclipse viewing, a bit overblown?

Absolutely not!  Everyone needs to be reminded that eyes never evolved on  Earth to look at the sun without suffering severe damage. We have many built-in reflexes to prevent this. There are no higher organisms on this planet that can do so and not run an enormous risk of being blinded.  Most of the time, astronomers are anxious for you to look at the sky and deeply enjoy the sights that you see. There is never a disclaimer that this is dangerous. The ONLY exception is in viewing solar eclipses. It is an inherently dangerous activity that you have to do very carefully in order not to suffer eye damage. There are specific steps you can take, based on the experience of  thousands of professionals, not only in astronomy but in medicine. So, bottom line: read the safety warnings and make sure you understand how to view the eclipse before  August 21, 2017 so that the only lasting impression you have is a wonderful memory of the event, not a damaged retina!