Hi everyone! I've posted this in the New BSG group as well, so I'm sorry if you're seeing this twice!
My name is Evelyn & I've been a fan of BSG since 2005, when my sister sat me down and showed me the miniseries... love at first watch, let me tell you! Well, haha, guess I don't have to :)
Anyway, I'm a senior at the University of Michigan, writing my undergraduate honors thesis in the Screen Arts and Cultures (AKA Film & Video) department. I'm writing on fans of television franchises, and I'm looking specifically at BSG. My main argument is that fans/fandom are the reason why franchises are created, and that they sustain interest even during long breaks and after the end of the series. So, obviously, BSG is a perfect example of this! I've got a lot of academic arguments to back it up, but I need some help!
I'd love to hear about your experiences as a fan of BSG, both of the new series, of the classic 1978 series, and of the new spin-off series on SyFy. Of course, I will credit you for your responses in my thesis, and will be happy to send you a copy of the finished product before I turn it in so you can make sure I've accurately quoted you :)
If you're interested/willing to help me out, you can post here or email me at BSG7803@gmail.com! If you're comfortable with doing so, could you please include your age and location? I won't be sharing your information with anyone, and you can be anonymous if you like!
Just a couple of questions to get you thinking: Why do you like BSG? What does it mean to be a fan of a television series? What kinds of fan activities do you participate in? Do you read/write fan fiction, create fan art, go to the conventions (if you do, I'm jealous; I can never afford them!), read fanzines, buy merchandise (again, I'm jealous!!)? What other fandoms do you participate in, if any? And lastly, in what ways (if any) do you think BSG has affected your life?
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope to get to know you all! :)
David "Drake" Hunter - Birthdate: 02 Aug 1971 - Location: Hanover, Maryland - Occupation: IT Manager
First, let me say that I'm a fan of BSG:TOS. I have never watched the re-imagined series, although I am told it's quite good, out of protest. I feel like an important part of my childhood was bulldozed and paved over by something shiny and new for no reason. Star Trek managed three spin-offs and a prequel without destroying or retconning its TOS; Star Wars managed two sequels and three prequels doing the same. And honestly, how much did reusing the names and the original premise of the attack on the Twelve Colonies really matter to the series? Couldn't the two have co-existed? *sigh*
Anyway, let me try to answer some of your questions.
What is BSG to me? I first encountered BSG when I was 8 years old. I had already had a taste of sci-fi, even in the mostly barren 70s: Star Trek:TOS; Space 1999; Star Blazers (the Americanization of the anime "Space Battleship Yamato"); "Logan's Run;" "Silent Running;" and of course, "Star Wars." Boy, did Star Wars get its hooks into me! Yet, I can truthfully say that BSG had the greater impact on me, and even today holds the warmest place in my sci-fi heart.
Why? Well, I think part of it has to be the fact that it was serialized. Star Wars was great and all, but we didn't have VHS or DVD players then that you could watch it over and over again, whereas BSG was on every week to give me my fix, something to look forward to. Unlike Star Trek, which was admittedly a bit too cerebral for this 8yo, BSG was more action-oriented, more exciting. And I would go so far as to say that, compared to Star Wars, BSG was more character-driven. It was easier to identify with the characters and their motivations, good or ill. This is not to say that all of the plots were sophisticated or that there wasn't some scenery-chewing or wooden acting in most episodes, but I blame Standards & Practices more for that than Glen Larson.
The largest reason why I believe BSG has remained in my consciousness, has to do with the casting. As I mentioned in another thread, the character "Flight Sergeant Jolly," portrayed by Tony Swartz, was the first time I'd ever seen an overweight person cast in a heroic role, as opposed to a villain or fool. And what's more, it was clear that the character was at ease with his size and could even find the humor in it; this was a character who was accepted as an equal, despite whatever imperfections he may have had. And while underused, he did get his shining moment in "Saga of a Star World," when his landram arrived just in the nick of time to save the heroes from the advancing Cylons, with him personally manning the turret.
What does it mean to be a fan of this series? Well, look at my first paragraph. I made a conscious decision not to take part in four seasons' worth of highly-regarded sci-fi programming because that show destroys the legacy of my show. Perhaps that's being a little dramatic, but consider that from the mid-2000s forward, whenever a young person thinks of BSG, they'll think of the re-imagined series only. To them, the re--imagined series *IS* BSG, and likely the only BSG they will ever know. To them, the 1978 show is just a quaint, campy show that was so bad that it got cancelled after one season, or because Lucasfilm sued them, or because Glen Larson wanted to make "Galactica 1980" instead, or any number of completely fabricated reasons to justify why it isn't worth their time to even look at. Given the history that led up to the re-imagined series, and given that there were options on the table that would've honored, if not revisited the cast of, the original series, choosing to make the re-imagined series is akin to saying that the original series "doesn't matter." Well it DOES matter! I don't know to how many people, but it matters to ME. Hence, I will not support the new series, even though Richard Hatch relented and made peace with it. An important part of my childhood deserves better than to be swept under the rug. So I guess to be a fan of a series means that you are one part enthusiast, one part knowledge base, one part apologist, and one part activist on behalf of the series.
What kinds of fan activities do I participate in? For the most part, largely none. It's not that I didn't want to, only that circumstances either left me in the dark on what was out there or real life was prohibitive in allowing me to participate in them. I can say, however, that I mean for that to change. I remember seeing a picture of the cast from a BSG celebration back in either the late 80s or early 90s, where they look absolutely crestfallen. I remember the caption read something to that effect, that they were disappointed with the turnout. Now, I don't know any other details behind that picture, but it always struck me as rather unfair that the actors from Star Trek and Star Wars are feted like kings and queens, yet their contemporaries in the BSG universe are largely ignored by the sci-fi community. I actually came to this site when I heard about the celebration intended for 2013, and even though that's meant to honor both BSGs, I am already committing to attend. The original series cast deserves at least that from me, now that I can afford to do so.
Do I read/write fiction? Yes; I am an avid reader, and am the writer for a fantasy webcomic (I won't say which, so as not to sound like I'm advertising it). I don't create art, simply because I'm not an artist, but I do collect the original series toys and models, press photos, lobby cards, and other memorabilia as the opportunity presents itself. I have not attended a sci-fi con in quite some time, for personal reasons, but plan to do so again.
I do participate in other fandoms, most of which are sci-fi oriented: Babylon 5, Firefly, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek.
Lastly, in what ways has BSG affected my life? Well, I spoke of how BSG inspired me that heroes came in all sorts of shapes and sizes and colors. Star Trek may have been the first to broach that subject, but BSG pushed it quite a bit. Think about it: 1979 network television and we have a cast with three African Americans in prime roles (Tigh, Boomer, Deitra), with one in a supervisory/command role, one a science/electronics whiz as well as a warrior, and one the best of the female fighter pilots. We see women given combat roles in the first episode of the series, and despite the lack of training, flourish, proving (as in the case with FSgt Jolly) that talent and courage are irrelevant to size, sex, or skin color. We see a rotund person treated as an equal, something that even today is a continuing social issue (size discrimination is a very real phenomenon). Granted, the impact of these casting choices on the series is not earth-shattering, but the fact that BSG did it was a bold move given the times. Growing up, I inherently understood why discrimination was wrong, when many of my classmates were very discriminatory. Could the influence of BSG and Star Trek in my life have helped me in this regard? Science fiction has long been seen as an area where you could push the envelope of ideas without being seen as being overly provocative. After all, Star Trek showed the first interracial kiss on television, and although "LA Law" beat "Star Trek:DS9," by a few years for showing a same-sex kiss on television, "Star Trek:TNG" tackled the issues of discrimination against gender identity from the LGBT viewpoint in the episodes "The Host" and "The Outcast." My point here is that sci-fi is often among the avenues to present progressive ideas and themes. With BSG, this was a very interesting presentation, because on the surface, the BSG universe is very conservative: military rule/martial law (and even chides the idea of civilian leadership in wartime, something the re-imagined series tackles), religious elements (being "sealed," the Ship of Lights, the Code of the Nomen, and Count Iblis as a demon) and primarily rich, white, patriarchal leadership. It's not hard to see that BSG might appeal to a more conservative audience and introduce progressive ideas subtly, whereas a show like Star Trek may have been seen as too far to the left to attract the attention of conservative viewership/sponsorship, despite some outstanding storytelling.
Anyway, that's about all I can speculate on off the top of my head. If you want to ask any questions, be my guest. These are just my thoughts and observations, so please take them with a grain of salt if you disagree. I'm not trying to tick anyone off or offend anyone, just present some thoughts and ideas I've had.