Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sci-Fi Fans Not Human? NBC Thinks So ...

by Ian Johnston
Writer - Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman

March 18, 2009

NBC-Universal Declares Sci-Fi Fans Not Human
Ackerman To Rise From Grave In Protest

Where’s Dr. Ackula when you need him?

How would the creator of the term "sci-fi" feel about this?

Oh right. He’s gone to the great Ackermansion in the sky, leaving behind a legion of fans and a grave plate that reads “Sci-fi Is My High”.

Too bad. We could have used him this week to defend the word he created (or at least popularized) more than 55 years ago.

The Sci-Fi Channel – owned by NBC-Universal, who used to know a thing or two about creatures that go bump and buzz in the night – has decided to ditch the word sci-fi and replace it with the more “cool” brand of “SyFy”.

According to the president of Syfy…..oh god, I can’t even type it…Dave Howe, the name change is aimed at “building a broader, more open, accessible, reliable and human-friendly brand…”

Wait a second. Did he just call all his current viewers “non-human”? God damn. I think he did. Wow…

Well, we know what he’s saying, don’t we? He just decided he’s too popular to hang out with the nerds and basement geeks. He wants to hang with the cool kids. Cool kids who don’t usually go for aliens and monsters.

Women. Guys with jobs. Normal folks.

And all this after The Sci-Fi Channel recorded its largest audience ever last year – built on all those very geeks he’s dumping.

Don’t you think it’s a bit wrong-headed to abandon your core audience in favor of a viewership who can be fooled into watching by the sight of a shiny new logo?

Needless to say, the world of always-indignant sci-fi fans has risen up in derision of this cynical money grab. Oh beware the power of the geeky internet blog. My fave comment so far? “I want to punch NBC-Universal in the face”.

Not that sci-fi has had a particularly free ride. Back in 1953, Forrest J (no dot) Ackerman claimed to have coined the word while riding in a car, playing on the current popularity of the word “hi-fi”.

Some in the science fiction world at the time felt the shortened word trivialized the genre. Harlan Ellison said it sounded like “crickets fucking”. But the word lived on.

Don’t see “SyFy” catching on however.

I mean, depending on how you pronounce, it sounds a bit like air escaping. Or like an abbreviation for syphilis.

Is there a cure for this affliction?

Maybe that’s the crowd that NBC-Universal is targeting – the flatulent syphilis girl who is drawn to sight of shiny things. Hey – you got her number? There’s a Stargate Atlantis marathon tonight.

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