Science fiction > sci-fi > SyFy > SF > ???
To me a television station is a television station. As long as someone broadcasts the shows I want to see I'm happy. The exception to this rule is the Sci-Fi channel. The Sci-Fi channel is a place where imaginations soar, where the unbelievable becomes its own reality, where we can imagine a better world and a brighter tomorrow.
Science fiction is a genre that brings people together in a way no other genre has done before. Long before social networking took the world by storm sci-fi fans have been attending conventions; meeting not only the people behind their favourite shows, but fellow fans. They have been forging friendships and sharing interests. Sci-fi fans have become a community, one that bands together, one that gives back to the community at large. We are loyal and we are generous. It is only in more recent years that other genres have started taking their shows to conventions and with the help of the internet fandoms have flourished across genres. People across genres have come to learn the joys that sci-fi fans have known and understood all along; that fandom is powerful.
And yet despite the millions of devoted fans who attend conventions every year all over the world those in the sci-fi industry are not satisfied. Those behind the Star Trek franchise dumbed down Enterprise, ignored elements of established canon, introduced the first non-instrumental theme song and dropped the identity Star Trek from its title; all in the hopes of drawing in a new audience. Four seasons later Enterprise was cancelled; three seasons short of the lifespan of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine & Voyager. Those behind the Stargate franchise decided that the fan base they had was not enough so in creating Universe went for darker, edgier and very unlike its predecessors SG1 and Atlantis. After alienating a large portion of its fan base in the desire to expand Universe went for two seasons; as opposed to SG1’s ten year and two movie run and Atlantis’ five year (self-cancelled) run. Love or hate Enterprise and Universe there’s no denying these two shows saw the end of their respective franchises in terms of new material. And now the sci-fi channel; known as SyFy (siffy) in the United States and more recently SF in Australia are jumping on the bandwagon. Not content with the loyal fan base that has enjoyed sci-fi for decades the networks have changed their names to appeal to the general public. There are now more reality shows and wrestling on Syfy than there are new sci-fi shows. Popular shows are being cancelled to the pain of cast/ crew and fans alike. Awarding winning theme songs are being cut because it’s assumed we don’t have an attention span bigger than a gold fish and show runners are constantly fighting the networks desire to dumb down shows because apparently we ‘won’t understand’. This broader audience the network are seeking have either no apparent interest in sci-fi, no understanding of its power, or an often ignorant belief that it's nothing more than some nerdy genre for people living in their parent’s basements. Apparently having learned nothing from the Star Trek and Stargate franchises the network itself is now looking to drive itself into the ground in the quest for a broader audience.
Having grown up on Star Trek I am from a sci-fi household and it saddens me that the genre that has always been there for me, and that I refused to abandon even through the years of bullying, is slowly dying because the networks don’t wish to maintain this thought provoking, wonderous genre. I have made some of my closest friends and had some of the most amazing and memorable experiences thanks to science fiction. And as much as I love this genre I am coming to the realisation that those behind the networks don’t care about its fans nearly as much as we care about the shows and everything they represent.
I don’t normally like to air such grievances in public, but surely there are enough bullies and simply ignorant people out there already putting down sci-fi fans; labelling us as geeks, which FYI we proudly own. Does the very network that is supposed to imagine greater and house our dreams also have to give the sci-fi viewers a collective wedgie. Are we really that lacking as a group that we are not good enough for you, that you have to change and abandon what we all love in order to reach out to those who don’t get it or simply don’t care? Why are the non-fans so much more important to you than the millions of loyal fans you already have? Don’t we cop enough grief from the community at large without being further ostracised by the network who house the shows we owe so much?