‘Tis the latter role that has Dirk all hot and bothered. You see, as you may have heard, there’s a new version of Battlestar Galactica, which, unlike the orignial, is big on plot and character development and stuff. And while the series have some basic similarities — some characters carry over between shows, for example — the take on the characters is radically different. For one thing, in the original series, the characters were one-dimensional, while in the reimagined series, the characters are three-dimensional. Crazy, huh?
No character in the new series is more multidimensional than Starbuck. Starbuck is tough, tormented by visions, afraid that those visions are leading humanity to their doom. But Starbuck is also a phenomenal pilot, although at times, a big pain to superior officers.
Starbuck is also a woman — and that’s got Benedict’s knickers in a twist. Because he totally isn’t a woman. And he blames the liberal feminist conspiracy for making his character into a girl:
Starbuck was meant to be a lovable rogue. It was best for the show, best for the character and the best that I could do. The Suits didn’t think so. “One more cigar and he’s fired,” they told Glen Larson, the creator of the show. “We want Starbuck to appeal to the female audience for crying out loud.” You see, the Suits knew women were turned off by men who smoked cigars, especially young men. How they “knew” this was never revealed. And they didn’t stop there. “If Dirk doesn’t quit playing every scene with a girl like he wants to get her in bed, he’s fired.” This was, well, it was blatant heterosexuality, treating women like “sex objects.” I thought it was flirting. Never mind, they wouldn’t have it. I wouldn’t have it any other way, or rather Starbuck wouldn’t. So we persevered, Starbuck and I. The show, as the saying goes, went on and the rest is history for, lo and behold, women from all over the world sent me boxes of cigars, phone numbers, dinner requests, and marriage proposals.
Witness the “re-imagined” “Battlestar Galactica,” bleak, miserable, despairing, angry and confused. Which is to say, it reflects in microcosm the complete change in the politics and morality of today’s world, as opposed to the world of yesterday. The world of Lorne Greene (Adama), Fred Astaire (Starbuck’s Poppa) and Dirk Benedict (Starbuck). I would guess Lorne is glad he’s in that Big Bonanza in the sky and well out of it. Starbuck, alas, has not been so lucky. He’s not been left to pass quietly into that trivial world of cancelled TV characters.
“Re-imagining”, they call it. “Un-imagining” is more accurate. To take what once was and twist it into what never was intended. So that a television show based on hope, spiritual faith and family is un-imagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction. To better reflect the times of ambiguous morality in which we live, one would assume. A show in which the aliens (Cylons) are justified in their desire to destroy human civilization, one would assume. Indeed, let us not say who the good guys are and who the bad are. That is being “judgmental,” taking sides, and that kind of (simplistic) thinking went out with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Kathryn Hepburn and John Wayne and, well, the original “Battlestar Galactica.”
Yes, in the original BSG, men were men, women were sex objects, and everything was either good or evil, just like God meant it. In the new BSG, things are actually nuanced. Decisions have consequences. And while nobody — not even a good chunk of the Cylons — think they were right to commit genocide, there’s increasing evidence that the Cylons might not have fired the first shot, and as we found out last week, the Cylons themselves have endured genocide.
In short, it’s like the real world — messy, complex, and not easily categorized.
Dirk blames women:
One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of “Battlestar Galactica” everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak and wracked with indecision, while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp!) and not about to take it any more.
And this proves that Dirk hasn’t watched the show; every character on the show, male and female, has had moments of doubt. Admiral Bill Adama came close to breaking down last week, and was only able to pull it together and get the fleet righted after a good talking-to by his friend (and Cylon) Saul Tigh. Meanwhile, President Laura Roslin did break down, burning the pages of her beloved prophecies, refusing to talk to the press, leaving the heavy lifting to former Acting President Lee Adama — who despite his worries, stepped up and acted decisively.
Of course, the Admiral and Lee and Tigh have had their doubts, too, and their moments of weakness. This, of course, is why the show is worth watching — because the characters aren’t cardboard cutouts. They’re real.
But this is all prologue. Dirk isn’t really upset that the new BSG has depth and humanity and dischord, like the best of art. No, what he’s upset with is that his analog in the new series is a girl:
The best minds in the world of un-imagination doubled their intake of Double Soy Latte’s as they gathered in their smoke-free offices to curse the day that this chauvinistic Viper Pilot was allowed to be. But never under-estimate the power of the un-imaginative mind when it encounters an obstacle (character) it subconsciously loathes. ”Re-inspiration” struck. Starbuck would go the way of most men in today’s society. Starbuck would become “Stardoe.”
What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker, as in, “Frak! Gonads Gone!”
And the word went out to all the Suits in all the smoke-free offices throughout the land of Un-imagination, “Starbuck is dead. Long live Stardoe!”
I’m not sure if a cigar in the mouth of Stardoe resonates in the same way it did in the mouth of Starbuck. Perhaps. Perhaps it “resonates” more. Perhaps that’s the point. I’m not sure.
What I am sure of is this…
Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Hans Solo as Hans Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women “hand out” babies. And thus the world for thousands of years has gone’ round.
Oh, kill me now. Women are vulnerable, men are tough, and there’s no way that it could be otherwise. Except…
…except I’ve had the privilege of watching Katee Sackhoff play Capt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace these last few years. (That’s gotta gall you, Dirk — she outranks you, doesn’t she?) And you know what? Her Starbuck is twice the man your Starbuck was; hell, she’s twice the woman too, and twice the human — even if she isn’t human, which, irony of ironies, may be the case.
The character of Kara Thrace isn’t just a lovable rogue looking to score — though she does manage to get with many of the hottest men in the fleet, including a pro athlete, Lee Adama, and the villainous (yet sexy and received-English-accented) Gaius Baltar — but she’s also tormented. She’s tough — easily the toughest pilot in the fleet. But she blames herself for the death of Lee’s brother, is still dealing with the abuse she suffered as a child, and has visions of leading her people out of the wilderness — yet has heard prophecy that she will lead her people to their doom. Unlike Lt. Starbuck, who was essentially a cardboard cutout, Capt. Thrace is a fully realized, human character. One that would work, incidentally, if she was a he.
Because of course, there are plenty of women fighting (and dying) for our country. Plenty of women working in the real world. Plenty of women flirting with, and trying to hook up with, someone tonight. Plenty of women who aren’t looking to hand out babies, and are happy to smoke a cigar. Plenty of women, you see, who are like plenty of men.
And of course, there are an awful lot of men out there who find themselves plagued by doubt sometimes. But Benedict doesn’t want to see them. Because in his mind, he was playing a man’s man, a guy who was the apotheosis of tough guy. And it’s got to hurt him that in a fair fight, Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck could kick his Starbuck’s ass. But she could, every single time, in any fight from piloting to boxing to painting to acting. Stop blaming your inadequacies on feminism, Dirk. It’s really just you.