The dumbening of Sci-Fi

A friend posted a link to this earlier … and I couldn’t believe it. Apparently, the Sci-Fi channel is changing its name to Syfy.

This has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

The reasons for it the change are clear, according to the article:

“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.”

Meesa dinks dats smart!

Meesa dinks deesa move is smart!

Being a complete and utter nerd, all I can say is “WHAT?”

OK, here’s the thing about your audience that you don’t seem to grasp: We don’t give a flying fuck about being “cool” and “hip.” We are used to being social outcasts because we like things that challenge our brains. We spend our money on computer stuff and video games and even *gasp* books — not the latest fashion. We watch stuff like  “Battlestar Galactica” because it’s an oasis of intellect and good writing in a desert of devoid, unimaginative programming. We like the Sci-Fi/Fantasty genre because it’s a little more free, more creative and non-traditional than the crap that’s floating around out there. Sci-Fi/Fantasty is geared toward those of us who have a partial brain, and enjoy using it in a capacity other than trying to guess who is going to be booted from “American Idol” this week.

Sci-Fi channel programming execs

Sci-Fi channel programming execs: "Roger roger!"

Rebranding the name to “SyFy” just dumbens everything down. And I know I don’t like it. I’m stodgy like that. Keep my traditional Sci-Fi spelling. It’s not hip. It may even be cumbersome. But dammit, it is what it is and I like it that way. It’s doesn’t sound dumb or like it was dreamed up by some marketing chimp who learned how to read by using “Hooked on Phonics.”

Here’s an idea: Instead of the name change, how about you give us good solid programming? Maybe run the old BSG and Buck Rogers series. Run Babylon 5 from beginning to end. Run shows that saw an untimely demise, like “Firefly” and “Space: Above and Beyond.” If you feel compelled to change the name, make it the “SFF Channel” and add Fantasy shows to the lineup — like Xena and Hercules and that Tomb Raider rip off that starred Tia Carrera — cause even those bad shows had a certain watchability aspect to them. Hey, how about Star Trek — they only have about 8 trillion shows to pick from. And while these are going on, you can pick up writers from great shows and work on new series that place an emphasis on good writing and storylines. Maybe bring back the art of the saga, where the show/story has definite beginning, middle and end (like BSG and Bab 5) from the get-go, and specialize in that. Be a trend setter in the most important of ways — by bringing back great writing that appeals to your audience — and stop worrying about what the average mouth-breather is watching. I mean, c’mon, we nerds feel that they should be used for Soylent Green, anyway.

Seriously, we’re nerds. By definition, we’re smarter than the average person. Why not feed into that aspect of our personalities by producing quality shows? Do you not think we know a fluff move when we see it?

And if I see a Sci-Fi ripoff of “American Idol” with Tweekie and Dr. Theopolis singing a duet and getting ripped on by Simon Cowl, I’m flying out to Sci-Fi Channel HQ and bitch-slapping every one of those motherfuckers. Especially Dave Howe, who is behind this whole fiasco.

Gah, does anyone out there even get it anymore?


7 Responses to “The dumbening of Sci-Fi”

  1. 1 Sly Reference
    March 16, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Three, you’re forgetting that one of the top shows on Sci-Fi is ECW, which has nothing to do with science fiction.

    The problem with execs is that they’re never happy that their channel is doing okay, and has found its niche. They always see the numbers that other channels are doing, and how their hit shows are always behind other hit shows. They will do anything to expand their demographics, even when that might mean alienating their original fan base. They think they can trade up.

    And the problem with trying to shell out for quality shows is that the execs have to put up the money long before there’s a product to look at. Even a good pilot can lead to a crappy series, and execs want every one to be a winner. They pick shows because of their marketability, their saleability, not because of their quality. They’re not trained to think like that. If they did think about quality programming, they probably wouldn’t have become execs because they would champion the wrong shows and lose money.

    But I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

    Execs are part of the stupid Hollywood system of making shows. Right now, the only alternative is the Internet, where less money is spread out to more creators, meaning that the only quality is in stuff that requires little financial input. Until a new system springs up where creators can tap into funds to create high-priced quality, then execs control the money and we have to put up with their stupidity.

  2. 2 Rob
    March 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Knowing how corporate minds work…

    None of the reasons you cite are the real reason. Truth is, they can’t trademark/copyright/whatever (IANALAIS) (I Am Not A Lawyer And It Shows) the name Sci-Fi. It’s generic. They CAN do that with Sy-Fy. It’s branding, pure and simple.

    Yeah, it’s dumb, but I can understand why. Why they’re claiming it’s to “distance themselves” makes no sense.

    They are making changes. They’re getting away from space opera, as shown by Eureka and Caprica (which will be set entirely on Caprica). They have ECW (gag me with a spoon). But if they wanted to distance themselves from science fiction, they sure as frak wouldn’t change it to Sy-Fy. If anything, it keeps the association since it’s pronounced the same.

  3. 3 Sly Reference
    March 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    “Truth is, they can’t trademark/copyright/whatever (IANALAIS) (I Am Not A Lawyer And It Shows) the name Sci-Fi. It’s generic. They CAN do that with Sy-Fy. It’s branding, pure and simple.”

    And yet USA and Bravo can copyright their names? Doesn’t quite hold water, because they could easily call it Sci Fi Channel, the way the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel or The Learning Channel does.

    The truth is the they already have a brand, and they don’t like it. They did sci fi, so they called themselves Sci Fi. It seems that for a while they’ve been wanting to break out of their niche market, and want to REbrand themselves. They’ve been bouncing around the name change for a while. According to tvsquad, they’ve gone through more than 300 names to come up with this one, with reports from at least a year ago.

    Oh, and if you don’t like ECW, I read one rumor that suggested Smackdown could end up on Sci Fi (oops, Syfy) because their current channel, MyNetwork, basically collapsed around them. Maybe they’ll go with a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome theme so they will fit in with the rest of the programming….

  4. March 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    The problem is really that the “Sci-Fi” itself is owned geeks and has been for a very, very long time. They can brand it all they like but they don’t own it, and have no hopes of actually being thought of when someone sees the word “Sci-Fi”

    Think about it… if the word “Sci-Fi” popped on your screen do you instantly think of the Sci-Fi Channel logo or do you think about a book? Or your favorite scene in star wars where ships get blow to bits?

    If you saw the word “Discovery” – BLAM the word channel follows. You see a little Earth and a big blue D.

    That’s some good and powerful fucking marketing right there. They own the word, if not legally, personally.

    Sadly, they chose to use homophone, so the only time SyFy will work like I suggest is when people read it.

    Overall it’s a marketing gimmick. Like Heinz dropping the pickle that we all know will be back in a year. Or DC killing superman, or batman. I don’t think it’s a real attempt at New Coke.

  5. 5 haij
    April 29, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Sounds a bit like syphilis. Then again, so did Wii sound silly at first.

  6. 6 Stupid Future
    July 12, 2009 at 12:20 am

    We agree and have attempted to cast a humorous light on the whole fiasco:

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