Do you see that picture above? You’ll only get that caption if you like Sci-Fi. For some reason, there is a really quite substantial group of people who claim they don’t like it. I don’t want to alarm you, don’t make any sudden movements, but these people are everywhere. Perhaps your partner is one? Your friend? Or maybe a treasured family member? We’ve all been in the situation of wanting to watch a preferred film or TV show that just happens to be Sci-Fi, and the other person will block it. The (by now) familiar refrain of “I don’t like Sci-Fi” will pass their lips, and that’s that. End of discussion.

… Except it isn’t, is it? Since when has genre been the sole indicator of quality? If a story is strong, has interesting characters and is well made, does it matter if it’s set on Alderaan or Earth? Upon the DVD release of JJ Abram’s Star Trek a few years ago, I really wanted my girlfriend to watch it with me. This is a film that in sensibility and execution is as mainstream as they come, by a director who knows how to please a crowd. But because it is labelled Sci-Fi, it was an epic battle to get her to watch it, on par with any galactic conflict dreamt up by George Lucas. Once I got her to watch it, guess what? She loved it, even going so far as wanting to watch it all again immediately afterwards. “Aha!” I thought, “perhaps next time it won’t be so difficult!”.

How wrong I was.

Avatar was released in the winter of 2009. “Do you want to see it at the IMAX?” I asked her. “Not really, I don’t like Sci-Fi” was her maddening reply. Through some rhetorical gymnastics, including pointing out that James Cameron directed Titanic and that it was probably going to end up being the film event of the year, I managed to convince her to go. And guess what? She liked it.

I find that she, and others, actually like Sci-Fi films and programs when they are unaware that they are watching Sci-Fi. They judge them on their own merits and are able to connect emotionally and viscerally to the material. But tell them that it’s Sci-Fi, and the film they were watching will transform into a kitschy, mawkish drama featuring silly words, laughable costumes and campy dialogue before their very eyes. I have deemed it wise not to broach the subject of watching Star Wars with her just yet. If Sci-Fi were a country, Star Wars would be its Prime Minister, nay, its King (or Queen). A lot of water needs to cross the bridge before I can work her up to watching that, but believe me, when I do, she will enjoy it.

Maybe I sound like a cruel bully? Perhaps it is I who is wrong, I am the prejudiced and stubborn character in this farcical situation. But all I ask is less prejudice towards an entire genre, and more letting individual entries be judged on their own merits. With the advent of Internet Culture enhancing the cohesion and celebration of things like Sci-Fi, and Science-Fiction-flavoured films and TV shows doing gangbusters business, it has never been more mainstream, but despite this, it still carries a stigma in the eyes of those outside it. We all owe it to ourselves to try and show others the more accessible films, TV shows and games, in order that we might live in a world where the best examples of every genre, be they Sci-Fi, Horror or Thriller be enjoyed for what they are, not dismissed based on the genre trappings they exhibit. What do people really mean when they say they don’t like Sci-Fi? That they haven’t given it a chance… And doesn’t everything deserve a chance?

Except Romantic Comedies though, they suck.


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