Author Topic: Why was there a stigma against sci fi in the 2000s and early 2010s?  (Read 10935 times)

Offline CmdrShepN7

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It seemed like during the 2000s and early 2010s people who watched fantasy shows and "Battlestar Galactica" were seen as "People who lived in basements".

Once Game of Thrones showed up it seemed like the stigma was erased virtually overnight but I don't seen TV watchers flocking to shows like "The Expanse".

Hopefully the "Three Body Problem" does for sci fi what GOT did for fantasy.



https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/1/21410210/netflix-the-three-body-problem-benioff-weiss-adapation

And hopefully "For All Mankind" can suck in more mainstream viewers too.

Why were TV watchers less open minded about sci fi and fantasy in the 2000s?

In the early 2010s it seemed like cable TV hit the "idiot button".

Offline daedalus1

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I read the book 'Three Body Problem'. Good read.

Offline Blackstar

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It seemed like during the 2000s and early 2010s people who watched fantasy shows and "Battlestar Galactica" were seen as "People who lived in basements".

That characterization of science fiction as something only nerds and outcasts paid attention to has been around for a very long time. Arguably, the Marvel movies, starting with "Iron Man," changed a lot of that. Robert Meyer Burnett, a filmmaker and editor, has referred to this as the "Post-Geek Singularity," when everything changed and comic book movies, sci-fi, and fantasy became totally mainstream. One could argue that there were major milestones before then--Star Trek and particularly Star Wars which reached much broader audiences--but the domination of popular culture by fantasy, sci-fi, and comic book/superhero movies is a relatively recent event.

Offline Coastal Ron

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It seemed like during the 2000s and early 2010s people who watched fantasy shows and "Battlestar Galactica" were seen as "People who lived in basements".

As someone that watched the original Star Trek TV show live on TV, and watched MANY other science fiction movies and TV shows, I would say that I don't understand your premise. Science fiction has been around a long time, and has always been considered a niche genre, but not something that you had to keep hidden.

And Game of Thrones is NOT science fiction, it is in the fantasy genre.

And in any case, it is the stories that hook people, not that it is "science fiction". Battlestar Galactica, the 2004 version, told interesting and engaging stories, as did The Expanse. It just so happens that those stories took place in a future or imagined timeline.

Michael Bay has made $Billions in revenue from making "science fiction" movies like the Transformer series, Armageddon, and such. To me those were more "fantasy" than "science", but they certainly showed that there was a market for storytelling that takes place in a fictional future.

And the same can be said for science fiction books, in that I have never known of anyone that had to hide the fact they were reading them - not when plenty of people read "trash" novels for pure entertainment purposes (you know who you are...  ;)).

Quote
And hopefully "For All Mankind" can suck in more mainstream viewers too.

Why were TV watchers less open minded about sci fi and fantasy in the 2000s?

They weren't.

Quote
In the early 2010s it seemed like cable TV hit the "idiot button".

I disagree.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Thorny

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It seemed like during the 2000s and early 2010s people who watched fantasy shows and "Battlestar Galactica" were seen as "People who lived in basements".

That's nothing new. Science Fiction as a whole has always been looked down upon by mainstream media as something only nerds and geeks like. The 2000s did have some popular sci-fi, though, such as Eureka, The 4400 and Stargate. There was also the hugely popular Lost and the long list of failed series that tried to recreate its success (Flashforward, Surface, The Event, etc.)

And hopefully "For All Mankind" can suck in more mainstream viewers too.

It probably won't. Apple TV+ is still a small player compared to Netflix, Amazon, Disney, or even Paramount+ and does not release its original material on home video or other streaming services. So the only way to watch it is to pay Apple, and there just isn't enough incentive for most people to pay for another streaming service. That's a shame, because For All Mankind and Ted Lasso are great.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2022 10:59 pm by Thorny »

Offline Steve G

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There's a lot of science fiction out there, but it's just awful stuff. Most have too much youth, leading to high-school immaturity, the themes are increasingly dark, too many social statements and not enough storylines that matter. No, men and women soldiers in the future will never have shared showers unless men are genetically altered to not being complete jerks. Calling women officers "Sir" is also a bit tiresome. The writers have never opened an astronomy book and always get the science woefully wrong, and don't even talk to me about Star Trek Discovery or Picard. (Strange New Worlds is an improvement.)

I tried to watch Bruce Willis in Breach, and it was pathetic. They even used an old Panasonic MX-50 video editing board (which I used in the early 2000s) as a control panel. The Expanse is very good except the same-old trap of using current hairstyles for the future, where men don't shave and look like slobs but women are expected to keep their underarms and legs completely hairless.

If anyone out there that has some suggestions, please let us know!

Offline ninjaneer

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It seemed like during the 2000s and early 2010s people who watched fantasy shows and "Battlestar Galactica" were seen as "People who lived in basements".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're mentioning the time frame that started approximately with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Harry Potter, breezed through Avatar and some Twilight stuff among other things, and ended with The Hunger Games.

Offline Metalskin

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It seemed like during the 2000s and early 2010s people who watched fantasy shows and "Battlestar Galactica" were seen as "People who lived in basements".

Def not true (from my experience and awareness of relevant pop culture). The meme about basement living was mostly associated with computer geeks, especially hackers.

The basement stereotype normally had a long haired, possibly overweight male, living at their mother's home in the basement, pizza boxes everywhere and spending their whole time either hacking online and/or hacking hardware. Often they would have multiple monitors, and bits of hardware everywhere.

A good example of this meme is the 2007 Die Hard move called Live Free and Die Hard. Though even in that movie they demonstrated different types of computer geeks.

I have been a science fiction fan from the 80s as a teenager through to now and my experience has not shown this to be true.
How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean. - Arthur C. Clarke

Offline Zaum

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No, men and women soldiers in the future will never have shared showers unless men are genetically altered to not being complete jerks.

Maybe off-topic, but I wanted to say that I disagree on this bit. Social conventions have a lot of flexibility and can move at least as fast as technology. If you look back in history, somewhere or somewhen you will find many unusual customs or forms of organization. Exploring these changes, even in the form of small details like the one you mentioned, can make the story more interesting. It's not something related to more recent works since many of the classic authors of sf have done this. Heinlein had definitely opened an astronomy book but still felt like bringing up the idea that only women should be spaceship pilots in Starship Troopers, or the polyamory in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (does jealousy have to be genetically removed too?).

You said that it's ridiculous that TV shows set in the future use the same hairstyles as today. I think it'd be just as ridiculous to depict a spacefaring society, perhaps several centuries or more from now, to be exactly like the one we live in.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2022 09:35 pm by Zaum »

Offline Steve G

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I don't disagree. Just ditch the punk hairstyles. And maybe in the future, tattoos will be out of style. Most currently produced shows in the future have a darker dystopian feel too it. Got help us all, even Star Trek Discovery and Picard are darker, destroying Gene Rodenberry's vision of Star Trek of a humanity that has moved passed our cultural differences, and is why those shows are so much despised by traditional Trekkies.

Offline Vahe231991

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The stigma against sci-fi movies regarding imaginary aspects of space travel isn't going away -- anyone who watches Star Trek and would love to see mankind travel to distant stars in spaceships able to travel at the speed of flight will be in for a rude awakening when they learn that Albert Einstein's theory of relativity makes clear that time slows everything down. The recent Russian ASAT test earlier this year will give certain people reason to stigmatize Star Wars because they probably know that a space war won't happen in their lifetimes, especially after the White House announced a ban on ASAT tests.

Offline reysero

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I don't disagree. Just ditch the punk hairstyles. And maybe in the future, tattoos will be out of style. Most currently produced shows in the future have a darker dystopian feel too it. Got help us all, even Star Trek Discovery and Picard are darker, destroying Gene Rodenberry's vision of Star Trek of a humanity that has moved passed our cultural differences, and is why those shows are so much despised by traditional Trekkies.
I love star wars tattoo.

Offline tea monster

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The attitude to Sci-fi has always been there. I would say that Star Wars in 1977 helped to dispel that and made sci-fi properly mainstream for the first time that I can remember. Having said that, the Republic sci-fi serials of the 30's were considered mainstream too.

Battlestar Galactica in the 2000's was a mainstream show with sex and violence. I don't see it being viewed as 'basement dweller' material.

If you think think that Sci-fi has been dumbed down recently, go watch some of the 1980's Buck Rodgers or Battlestar Galactica 1980 episodes. I was a huge SF nerd and SF TV in the 80's was a lobotomised graveyard. I welcomed when Buck Rodgers got cancelled. It was more put out of it's misery than cancelled. If you want to really get some perspective, then go watch some third season Lost in Space. Put on "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" and be prepared to have your brain turn to tapioca and run out your ears.

Sci-fi, especially on TV, has always been treated more as science fantasy than what readers of 'hard' SF would consider science fiction. Screaming spaceships doing tight turning dogfights has been accepted to be what space is 'really like' by the public and cinema/TV producers, when, of course, it isn't. Even with regular thrillers, explosions miles away are heard instantly, when in reality there would be a delay as the sound takes longer to get to the viewer than the image of the explosion.

None of this is new to this millennium. It has been a thing, and that thing has been much, MUCH worse in previous decades.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 11:25 am by tea monster »

Offline MattMason

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The original post's question begs the question.

One should ask "if" about a subject before asking "why." The question presumes there was a stigma in the first place.

So my opinion tries to answer the question as an "if," first. I'll stick primarily to TV shows and films here since books have a natural upper-hand by having more content.

The general public is, well, general in their education. Unless you, as John Q. Public, were also "Dr. Jane Q. Public," you didn't often have any scientific background to differentiate between science fantasy (physics and technology well outside of scientific plausibility, the majority of what has been shown on virtually any Star Trek episode or film, and all of "Star Wars" stories), lightweight science fiction (where scientific terms, physics and technology are faintly present, such as the 2004 "Battlestar Galactica"), and hard science fiction ("The Martian" film, based on the Andy Weir hard SF book, and even the 1995 "Apollo 13" film).

For the general public, in my opinion, understanding of scientific principles comes only through practice, exposure and even presumption based on other media watched. Space and science nerds like ourselves that read NSF or similar forums are NOT the norm. We have, as amateurs like myself, read papers, well-sourced documentaries, read books by accredited experts and spoke with space industry people. We're learned to differentiate fact and plausible things in SF and fantasy. Most of the public has not.

The entertainment industry is generally indifferent to scientific accuracy and for good reason. It's not profitable to be scientific for any film unless it can make extra profit. As "Star Wars" showed, flashy dogfights in space, lightsaber duels and drama don't require someone explaining how the tech worked. In fact, explaining the tech, or exposition, is the last thing a viewer wants. They just want to see things used, and the viewer will pick up the significance of the technology in context. In short, "show, don't tell."

Good hard SF appeared in the 1995 "Apollo 13" film, with hyper-accurate sets, creating actual microgravity during filming, events, terms and dialogue lifted from the mission transcripts, and mostly good physics. The Apollo spacecraft's crazy oscillations in the initial moments of the O2 tank explosion, transferring dialogue said by others to central characters, and creating fictional tension between two of the astronauts (Fred Haise was no less of a rookie than Jack Swigert) were among the film's greater fictionalized areas. The film succeeded since they showed more what the tech did than necessarily explain it. And when explanation was done, it was made through a natural context we all know: Q&A using fictional media or other NASA people asking questions to other NASA characters.

The 2004 "Battlestar Galactica" had technical advisors, including Dr. Kevin Grazier, who worked in NASA/JPL on the Cassini spacecraft. The show didn't explain out its artificial gravity on the battlestars or even its FTL drive, but some physics during the dogfights, particularly the law of inertia (things stay moving unless stopped by something else) allowed drift of fighters and their debris. The show even toned down the necessary sound effects of ships in space, a quieter acknowledgment that sound doesn't exist in a vacuum, for those that noticed. No aliens ever appeared in this version; the notion that intelligent life outside of humanity (and its creations, the Cylons) was left unanswered to concentrate on both groups alone.

Any "stigma" about science fantasy or fiction comes from the film or TV comes from the natural separation of being entertained versus being informed. We nerds want both. Most others don't care.

But sometimes the line of informed and entertained cross in a good screenplay. The concised story in "The Martian" did this. However, the element that kicked off the story, in both film and book, was impossible. A sandstorm on Mars lacked sufficient pressure to tip over a human, much less any large spacecraft. The author deliberately gave nature a false upper hand to get the drama going.

The "Apollo 13" film also crossed the info/entertain line very well. Most of the public today can tell you lots about the mission, although often from the film's depiction. We nerds know that Gene Kranz never said "Failure is not an option" during the actual mission.

But even the real Gene Kranz appreciated the line. He made the line the title of his autobiography.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2023 12:53 pm by MattMason »
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Offline Vahe231991

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The attitude to Sci-fi has always been there. I would say that Star Wars in 1977 helped to dispel that and made sci-fi properly mainstream for the first time that I can remember. Having said that, the Republic sci-fi serials of the 30's were considered mainstream too.
The specter of a potential space war like the ones in Star Wars was aroused by the USSR's development of the IS-A satellite killer weapons in the late 1970s.

Online JAFO

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The specter of a potential space war like the ones in Star Wars was aroused by the USSR's development of the IS-A satellite killer weapons in the late 1970s.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 04:13 am by JAFO »
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Offline Star One

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Probably because 95% of all the various genres of sci-fi is rubbish that’s why. Also this is a very western leaning thread as at least in anime there has always been things like the giant robot genre with long running franchises such as Gundam let alone Neon Genesis Evangelion or Macross. Also OP talking about GOT as some point of change when in fact over here in the UK the highly successful revival of Doctor Who predates it considerably. The show not just predates GOT it also has outlasted it.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2023 08:05 am by Star One »

Offline Blackstar

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Some of you guys really need to read a bit more history. The "stigma" against sci-fi didn't start in the 2000s. There was a stigma against it in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. If you read about the history of science fiction and culture, it was considered marginal, kids' literature for a very long time. Science fiction conventions, which for a long time were only about written sci-fi, were considered gatherings of nerds and outcasts.

Sci-fi only started to become more mainstream over a long period of time. Star Trek appealed to a wider audience in the 1970s, Star Wars an even wider audience in the 1970s and 1980s. But even in the 1980s and 1990s people talked about science fiction as if it was kids' stuff, not serious, not "art." Even when the biggest grossing movies were science fiction, they were often looked down upon by people in the literary establishment and the arts. You can go look at what movies won the Academy Award for Best Picture for the past 50 years and you'll see that often science fiction movies won technical awards, but didn't get the big awards.

The perceptions really only started to change by the 2000s or so.

Offline Cheapchips

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It's easy skip over the fact that good TV is really hard. Scifi/fantasy elements just add to the complexity and cost.  There's also the fact that you're potentially narrowing your audience if its not set in a hospital or police station. It's why there's less space operas than soap operas.

and why Space Precinct managed to get green lit.  ;D

Offline punder

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Iain Banks wrote “serious” novels, and Iain M. Banks wrote science fiction. Tells you all you need to know about how the publishing business views SF.

Edit, great interview with Banks in which he addresses, somewhat ambiguously, this issue.

« Last Edit: 03/07/2023 02:17 am by punder »

 

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