Hey, science-fiction fans! Want to get shit on by the one cable network that caters to you?
“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network....
“We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi,” Mr. Brooks said. “It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”
Yeah! Everyone knows that "Sci Fi" is code for dysfunctional dweebs lurking in basements, right? That's why Sci Fi is changing its name to (wait for it...) Syfy.
Syfy (which sounds like a cartoon character who warns you about contracting syphilis) is hoping this change will make them more popular with non-nerds. Plus, Syfy is a "hip" name, right? The kids will love it, according to David Howe, the president of Syfy!
“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it,” Mr. Howe said. “It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.”
Oh, man. That quotation just made this "techno-savvy" 18-to-34-year-old want to throw himself off the Mercury's roof. Hit the jump for more dumbassery.
To be fair: Other than Battlestar Galactica, it's not like
Sci Fi Syfy is known for producing good science-fiction. These are the guys behind TV movies like Mansquito and Raptor Island, and when they're not doing those, they show repeats of Moonlight. Meanwhile, their transparent attempts to spread out beyond their geek niche usually results in bland stuff like this, which I'm so apathetic about that I can't even bother finishing this sentence in a halfway meaningful manner.
This attempt to branch out does shine a new light on comments Howe made last year to Variety about the upcoming Battlestar prequel series, Caprica:
"Battlestar Galactica was absolutely our flagship show. It put us on the map and helped transform the perception of the network," said Sci Fi prexy Dave Howe, noting that the cabler hopes to draw a broader audience to a series it sees as more compelling family drama than "space opera."
"We want people to come to this who have never heard of Battlestar Galactica," he added. "I think, because [Galactica's] backdrop was space and spaceships, there was a barrier to entry for some viewers. Caprica has none of that. It's an intense family drama set on an Earthlike planet, in the near future, speaking to a lot of the ethical dilemmas that we as a human race are going to have to face very shortly."
First, anyone who uses the word "prexy" instead of "president" should be soundly beaten. Second, okay: So Syfy is hoping to take the science out of science-fiction (or at least separate the syence from the fyction) in hopes of pulling in audiences who're put off by "space and spaceships."
But that just seems stupid to me. There's a reason that The Dark Knight did so well at the box office, despite being a comic book flick, and there's a reason Battlestar put Sci Fi on the map, despite prominently featuring space and ships therein. It's because these things are good, and when something is good enough, it'll usually transcend its genre, and become appreciated by a broad rather than a niche audience.
Obviously, Syfy is a business; they want as many people watching as possible. And to be fair, getting people to watch Battlestar Galactica can be a challenge—largely because there's a large segment of the population that, for whatever their closed-minded or outdated reasons, has decided they just "don't like" science-fiction.
But frankly, genre media is always going to have that struggle. The challenge isn't marketing it differently, but making stuff that's good enough that it transcends preconceptions about it. I'd suggest that if the people behind Syfy want more people to watch their channel, changing its name isn't important. What is important is making fewer TV movies about mansquitos and more shows like Battlestar Galactica—stories that aren't ashamed of their genre, but are also good enough to force audiences to move beyond their preconceived notions about said genre. Whether a show is on a channel called Sci Fi or Syfy won't make a difference—it's how good the show is that matters.