Sci Fi becomes 'Syfy'...sigh

Battlestargalactic_lCable’s Sci Fi channel is changing its name to Syfy, which sounds the same but can be trademarked, in an attempt to "broad[en] perceptions and embrac[e] a wider and more diverse range of imagination-based entertainment including fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure, as well as science fiction," according to the network’s statement. Which…I guess? It looks like "siffy" to me, but okie doke.

I know that selling sci-fi is an uphill battle — is there another genre with such a stigma that it’s commonplace for people to categorically refuse to watch any of it? As someone who’s spent the last four years and change recommending Battlestar Galactica, I’ve started to appreciate how severe an aversion some people claim to have. I’ve even said, "it’s not really sci-fi!" in attempting to convince people to give it a try. Well, uh, eff that noise.

Let’s take a pledge, PopWatchers, all of us together: Let’s stop apologizing for sci-fi. Let’s stop playing into the idea that sci-fi is fringe, or a guilty pleasure. Let’s rightfully claim fantasy and superhero literature as part of the sci-fi family — a family tree whose roots and branches are so intertwined that it’s impossible to tell where one begins and another ends. We may not be able to agree on a strict definition of sci-fi or speculative fiction, but we can agree that while it may not be synonymous with fantasy or superhero stories, there’s a lovely gray area where the genres overlap.

addCredit(“Carole Segal/SCI FI”)

Most of all, let’s reject the notion that sci-fi isn’t mainstream. In the last decade, two Star Wars movies have been the top-grossing films of their year. If we use an inclusive definition of sci-fi, we can add Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Return of the King to our list of box-office winners; The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 3 aren’t too far off. The top five grossing movies for 2005? StarWars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, The Chronicles of Narnia: TheLion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire;War of the Worlds; and King Kong. In 2007, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I Am Legend were in the top six. Last year, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and WALL-E were among the top five. Star Trek is coming back. Lost and Heroes have generated buzz on TV. But tell me again about how many people would never watch sci-fi.

So if changing a station’s name to the contrived "Syfy" helpswussies cop to their fandom, fine — I can deal. Because I know, andyou do too, that science-fiction by any other name is still totally,totally sweet.


Comments (116 total) Add your comment
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  • sissyfissy

    Oh, that’s just plain stupid.

  • Ceballos

    I actually think Margaret hit the reason for the change right on the head in your first sentence: SyFy can be trademarked while “Sci-fi” can’t.
    I really don’t believe the reason for the change is that there’s this big stigma between anything “Sci-fi” related. Not only do all of the statistics cited in this post show the “sci-fi” stigma has more to do with snooty critics and award shows and less to do with audiences, but changing it specifically to “SyFy” does little to actually erase the prejudice you talked about. “SyFy” sounds exactly like “Sci-fi”, so if you’re telling a buddy that they should check out this awesome show on “SyFy”, how is that going to be any different than before.
    By the way, “is there another genre with such a stigma that it’s commonplace for people to categorically refuse to watch any of it?” …Musicals.

    • Aaron

      Well…….. Being Human is nice but I can’t belivet hey canceled all the shows on it!

  • AshleyBrooke

    What? Syfy looks completely ridiculous. How in the world does spelling it like that make it seem like a more watchable “brand”???!!! I don’t actually watch the channel, unless I’m channel surfing and catch something, but I am a big sci-fi horror fan. And I’m sure not calling something syfy. Ugh.

    • Sam

      I call it “siffy”. Sooner or later they are going to bring show that have nothing to do with Sci-Fi. Jeez, they show wrestling. That is more fantasy then Sci-Fi.

  • Lyonside

    Isn’t this also just so they can justify putting *ugh* pro-wrestling on the channel? (right after Eureka, because of COURSE those audiences are the same?)

  • Winona

    People who watch the Sci-Fi channel already are not ashamed to be watching sci-fi. This whole thing smacks of The Nashville Network -> The National Network -> Spike TV.

  • Alisa

    I don’t like SyFy… what about all of their “iF” ads on the channel. I love those!!

  • Kalick

    I looked at the new name and it made me think of Syphilis. Is that the kind of rebranding they want?

  • chelle

    I’m in if they’re trying to go more Buffy / Supernatural / Jeremiah / etc. But if this about the aforementioned wrestling or if they go all PsyFi again (I mean really, pet psychics?) then I give up.

  • wg

    Considering they’ve rarely shown any actual *science fiction* on that channel in years, I think it makes perfect sense to rebrand. I gave up on them after they cancelled “Farscape” and became the schlock monster movie and wrestling psychic friends network.

  • Jack

    So does that mean they’re going to give up scifi.com for scyfy.com?
    … cuz true believers can do good things with that domain.

  • Lauren

    Meh. The SciFi channel is absolutely the worst thing about the science fiction genre. This really isn’t that much a shocker.

  • zrb

    They have been going down hill since they canned farscape, stargate(s), and brought in wrestling. Their SciFi made movies are pretty bad too. I never watch anything on there anymore. Still wont have a reason to after the name change.

  • Ian Smithy

    The Sci-Fi channel?
    What Sci-Fi Channel”
    Years ago they ditched programming such as MST3K and Sliders to promote ECW wrestling, reality, endless Ghost Hunters, and movies every Satruday and Sunday about Giant Bugs, Giant Fish, Giant Stones, and more Giant Bugs.
    I would not dignify calling this a Sci-Fi channel. They just dump cheap programs on to make a profit off of basic cable rates.
    There are HUNDREDS of fine sci-fi channel shows from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s that are ripe for the picking and would be of interest for thousands of fans………

  • Big D

    A name change. That’s great, but let’s hope it is accompanied with some new quality programming. Once BSG airs its finale on Friday, I will have no reason to turn on Syfy until Stargate Universe, Warehouse 13 or Caprica starts or until they air The PLan.

  • jgirlkzy

    I agree. It it stupid to change the name. If they would take off the wrestling (it’s on another channel already) and put quality SciFi movies on that would be great.

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