Tuesday, July 19, 2005

"Frack" You

Now that things have finally settled down here in my life, it's time to get back to our regular diet of Bush-bashing. Frankly, with all that has been going on a late, it's been torture to remain mute.

However, I don't want to jump on the Rove thing right away. That's some serious heavy lifting. Instead, I'm going to warm up on lighter fare so I don't pull something. I'm not 18 anymore, you know.

On that note, let's talk about Battlestar Galactica.

I'm not the crazy sci-fi geek that I was as a youth, but I still have some passion left for the genre (as evidenced by this post). So, when I started hearing that the new Battlestar Galactica was really worth checking out, I immediately... Well, I immediately thought that the people telling me this had gone batshit insane. Because, as much of a sci-fi geek as I was, I can remember the original series and -- let's be honest here – it blew.

But, as the retooled version headed into its second season, people began buzzing about it once more. And some of those buzzing seem to be pretty on the ball in other respects. So, I figured "what the heck?" I have a TiVo and a bong -- how bad could it be?

Verdict: not that bad. Of course, I have no idea about the storyline or characters at this point, so it's hard to know how believable the plot actually is. But the production value is much higher than expected and the grittiness of the battle scenes made them delightfully intense. All in all, it was good enough to merit a Season Pass nomination for the time being.

However, there is one little thing.

Clearly, part of the creators' goal was to create a very brutal, raw, and real universe. And these creators knew that, in the real world, when people are faced with intense, life and death situations, they tend to say "fuck" an awful lot.

Unfortunately, you can't say that on basic cable. You can say a lot of other words, but admittedly nothing quite does it like "fuck". It's just one of those words.

This has been a dilemma for TV screenwriters since time immemorial (or since the FCC started laying down heavy fines for broadcast transgressions). Usually, the dialogue is modified in order to avoid the f-bomb. This leads to a lot of "I don't give a damn” (as opposed to "I don't give a fuck”) and "screw you" (as opposed to "fuck you"). It's a little silly, but at least it's English.

The creators of Battlestar Galactica, however, have decided that this isn't good enough and have, instead, created a new word for us.


This word has been globally pasted into the script in every instance where a "fuck" would normally be. In fact, I suspect that the writers simply write what they want, and then do a search and replace for every instance of "fuck." I don't know if that's how they do it, but there's no practical reason why such a strategy wouldn't work. The two words are interchangeable in every respect, with nary a grammatical or idiomatic deviation to be found. Just whenever you would expect a "fuck", you have a "frack" instead.

Two observations.

First -- to the creators. This is incredibly distracting. One of the burdens of science fiction is that there is a fairly high burden of disbelief that the story must attain for it to be enjoyable. The stories take place in strange worlds, with aliens and space travel and all sorts of other things that we never experience in real life. The viewer must be able to lose himself in the story so that these issues of believability never have an opportunity to bubble to the surface, breaking the spell. However, every time I hear an utterance of "frack", I can't help but think about the FCC -- something I'm pretty sure doesn't exist in the Battlestar Galactica universe. Maybe I'll get over this -- but, then again, maybe not. We'll see.

Second -- to the censors. Is this really what you intended? Is preventing the use of the word "fuck" really about offensive phonetics? Is the problem of that word -- whatever that problem is -- really alleviated by this strategy? Is it really OK to express everything that you would otherwise expressed with the use of the word "fuck" as long as you don't say "fuck"?

You can get back to me on that.

Anyway -- this isn't a deal killer -- yet. But, if I'm still cracking a smile every time I hear that silly word three episodes from now, I'm pulling the plug. I'll let you know.
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