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December 26 2002

Farscape's Ben Browder praises BtVS and makes some very valid points about critics, genre shows and public opinion.

"One of the great joys of being on a show like Farscape or Buffy is that we've managed to crawl out of the critical ghetto so that mainstream critics are looking at it and going, "Actually this is really good television." And from a vanity standpoint, as an actor you hope for that. In science fiction you go in going, "Well, I know no one's ever going to take us seriously." And there will always be people who won't take us seriously. The industry has to take it seriously because science fiction makes a lot of money. But the critics don't have to."

"You know, Buffy is a fantastic show. Every time I've seen it, I think, this is a great show, and certainly worth far more praise than any number of shows which I see get nominated Emmys."

I wonder what Joss Whedon thinks of Farscape. I know that he doesn't like the humans-in-rubber aliens a la Star Trek. But Farscape was different in this and many other ways from standard sci-fi fare. Also Firefly and Farscape are companions in their fates as both recently got cancelled due to ratings, new episodes are yet to air, and both have a dedicated following that is actively trying to save the show. I just hope Firefly does better than Farscape has in finding a new home.
I honestly don't understand how network suits operate. They're obviously not catering to whatever my demographic is, cuz what I enjoy often either gets scrapped or spends a lot of time faltering. With the one possible exception being CSI. Crime Scene Investigations is on CBS and appears to be doing very well with the ratings. It claims to be more "science fact" but sometimes it almost feels like scifi. CSI is a curious beast.

I was into X-Files in its early seasons, when it was little more than a cult thing. Then when the mainstream started acknowledging it, I felt the writing was losing its edge. By the time Duchovny left, I was already gone. Quantum Leap was amazing at times, but never seemed to cut a break in the ratings game. I'm still stinging from the cancellation of shows like Strange Luck and VR-5, both of which I enjoyed but neither series had the chance to find their audience before they were scrapped. And a show like The Prisoner wouldn't stand a chance today, on either side of the pond.

I occasionally learn with disdain that shows like Springer and Jenny Jones still exist out there, and I'm frustrated as to why. Who are these idiots watching this crap, when fine television like Farscape and Buffy gets ignored? If I had a choice between a nine course meal and a Big Mac, I'd go for the nine course meal. Why do so many prefer junk food?

Farscape was on cable, which I no longer have. When I did, I saw a few episodes and what I saw was both fun and intelligent. Cable's too expensive for me to bother with. I realized I was paying for over a hundred channels but I was only watching five or six of them because the rest was crap. Then I got unemployed last year and had no choice but to cancel. Now that I've got a job again, cable's still too much of a bother for me to mess with.

Maybe that's the problem though. I don't invest a lot of money in television anymore. I don't see why I should pay for cable television, when most of the 'pay' channels STILL put stupid commercials in their programming. I don't blindly fall for commercial banter, and often ignore the TV when commercials come on. Maybe my demographic simply doesn't have the money, or the tendency to buy anything we see in a commercial. Maybe the suits have to aim for stupid junk food people cuz those are the ones spending money. It all comes down to money, I suppose.

Maybe when shows like Firefly get cancelled, it's a backhanded compliment from the network suits: "Your show is too good, Whedon. It's attracting intelligent people who don't fall for stupid commercials. We need crappy television that caters to people stupid enough to buy the goods and services we are paid to advertise, so quit making art Whedon and start making junk food so we can appease our advertisers."

I once spent an afternoon babysitting my nephew & niece and was appaulled to find they religiously watched The Home Shopping Network. They honestly enjoyed watching a network that was NOTHING but commercials. I sat there dumbfounded - this is the new generation. What is this world coming to?
It is approaching the place it was always headed. A depressingly mindless place. From my years in the educational system I noticed the anti-intellectualism of it all. The kids with no expression. It's sad really. How are the numerous problems of the world to be solved? Not that those in power want this.

But what to do about it? Is it not inevitable?

Well, of course, maybe unless… (That is about as far as I have gotten but I do have hope. Hopefully not wrongfully.)

(P.S. - See Donnie Darko if you haven't allready. Similar to BtVS in many ways: Apocolypse, teen superhero, angst, intelligent.)
Though hasn't low brow culture always been more popular than work performed by auteurs?

Even with the mass literacy programmes in the late nineteenth century, the public preferred to read 'Penny Dreadfuls' and scandal sheets. And before that that, music halls were far more popular than going to the opera.

So as far as I see, it's nothing new.

Though if you're interested in reading more about anti-intellectualism in the education systems, these three books: 'Everything You Know Is Wrong', 'You Are Being Lied To' and 'Dumbing Down: Essays on the Strip Mining of American Culture' have very good essays in them about the state of our schools.
Thanks for the references. I'll be sure to check them out.

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