Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SyFy vs. SciFi

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

It’s not a big change. Really it’s just a change in spelling. The pronunciation is the same. However, it’s still a name change. There is no longer a Science Fiction Channel that most people refer to as SciFi. There is now a channel that calls itself SyFy.

What is the big deal, you ask, since nothing seems to be changing except spelling? Why would anyone care about the change or dislike it? I can see your point that nothing is really changing, but I would also like you to see mine. The name change leads to the possibility that everything would be changed.

I am an avid viewer of the SciFi Channel. I pretty much have the weekday schedule memorized. In my family, when TGIF died its sad death, we started watching SciFi Fridays. My Fridays were spent watching Stargate: SG-1 (the greatest show of all time) and Stargate Atlantis. When SciFi introduced the new Battlestar Galactica I watched it. When they created Eureka, I watched it. But even before all of this, I remember being in late elementary school and middle school and watching Quantum Leap every week day at 4:00 pm after I got home from school on the SciFi Channel.

Perhaps you see the connection in the shows I watch on SciFi? They are all science fiction. Stargate, Battlestar, Quantum Leap, Star Trek, Doctor Who, SciFi shows them all. You might think that is obvious being that their name was the Science Fiction Channel, but that is my point exactly. They were obligated to show science fiction.

The SciFi Channel doesn’t just show science fiction. They show horror and fantasy. They also like to show Indiana Jones and National Treasure, though I’m not sure how either of those movies fit in. They air Ghost Hunters and other shows about the supernatural. They pretty much air anything they want. This is what I fear in the name change.

Why does it no longer what to claim its science fiction? Because “"Sci Fi" was a barrier to possible viewers and that if the programming is good, the viewers will follow”. Basically, saying its science fiction is not hip and cool, so we’re going to cover it up a little bit, not claim science fiction straight up, so we can get in these other people. Since apparently, good programming is not enough to get over the name.

What I fear from this lack of having science fiction in the name is that the channel will no longer feel obligated to show science fiction. Where else will I be able to watch Stargate? What other channel remembers Sliders was even a show and occasionally air it? Am I really going to have to wait for BBCA to decide to air something because what used to be my science fiction channel is letting Doctor Who slide by?

Now I don’t really think the SciFi Channel is going to degrade so much. Doctor Who is pretty much a hit, who would let that go? Not even SyFy I don’t think, but I am worried that I may see more of what used to be science fiction programming taken up by ridiculous fantasy movies or gory horror movies. It will be like the SciFi Channel usually is during Halloween – kiss science fiction goodbye.

I suppose really I just hate ambiguity. I have this same problem with the name “740” when it comes to the Georgia Tech BCM. 740? What on earth does that mean? Is it a Christian organization? Maybe a band? Maybe a weird club celebrating a certain time of day? I have no idea. The name tells me nothing. Syfy is the same thing. What on earth does that mean? When I watch the Science Fiction Channel I know exactly what I’m getting into. I know what they’re offering me (science fiction) and I know what I want (science fiction). They have a great base of people who want exactly that. Why alienate these people – the people like me who think science fiction actually is cool and aren’t scared of saying it? Why turn your name into a number because you’re afraid the word “Baptist” carries too much of a stigma? I think people appreciate honesty. I’m a Baptist Science Fiction nut. I’m ok with that. Let’s call it the BCM and let’s call it the SciFi channel. Don’t hide who you are. Don’t act like you’re ashamed of what you are. I’m not ashamed. Why are you telling me I should be? Why are you telling me that what I am is not hip or cool when I think it is?

By golly I’m a nerd and proud of it. Nerds have way more fun.

I just wish the world would stop telling me that what I think is ok isn’t. Stop changing your names because you think your old name is uncool. By saying that, you’re calling me uncool (which I admit I may be, but in the world of nerds, I’m pretty cool).

You know what? If a rose was named “redthorn” I doubt it would have the same love connotation.

Guy: Look honey, I got you a redthorn.

Girl: What? Are you saying our love is prickly and full of thorns?

Guy: I should have gone with carnations.

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