During my drug-induced little vacation, I re-watched a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica — and although I can’t remember exactly what I was looking for when I went to Starbuck’s wikipedia page (some little detail from an episode I hadn’t re-watched, probably) I ran across a quote from the previous Starbuck (played by Dirk Benedict) which said something like:
Speaking about the new A-Team movie, Benedict told Anorak City: “They’ll screw it up. They’ll do it what they did to Battlestar Galactica, probably.”
He continued: “[The Battlestar Galactica remake] wasn’t the show I made. I played an iconic character, but they turned him into a girl! […] When you do Star Wars you don’t turn Han Solo into a girl, Hannah Solo. When you do Rio Bravo you don’t have Madonna get her boots out to play John Wayne. Create another character instead.”
And I was like … Oh. Then: DAMN IT.
A little of Meljean’s history:
It’s probably no surprise to anyone who has read this blog for a while that I had a girlhood-crush on Dirk Benedict — or rather, on Starbuck from the original BSG, and then on Face from The A-Team. (I’m a dork, I know this. Let’s move on.) I shouldn’t really say Dirk Benedict, because I don’t know anything about him at all. I do know that if I saw his name on the credits somewhere, I’d be more likely to check out the movie/show, just because I liked his work.
And I remember when I first heard that Starbuck was going to be a girl in the re-imagined series, I had that moment of WTF? Really? And I totally get the reluctance to accept substantial changes to beloved characters. So for a second, I understood the above quote … and I also assumed that it had been quoted before the new BSG played on TV. Then I realized the date was all wrong. He was talking about The A-Team movie. So that quote came from this year…long after Katee Sackhoff totally kicked ass and took names as Kara Thrace. So he doesn’t even give credit to the character that the newer version did create — it’s all about her being a girl or not.
So I am back to: DAMN IT.
Sometimes, I really don’t like seeing behind the curtain. That isn’t to say that actors/writers/whoever can’t have personal opinions and lives; it means that sometimes, I’d rather not know what they are. Sometimes, it’s very hard to separate the work being done from the person who does it … and that is just for opinions — don’t even get me started on actions (hello, Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen!) I hate knowing that I will never be able to read/watch something the same way, even though whatever that person’s opinion was doesn’t really affect the actual text. My perception has changed.
This is also why I rarely, rarely ever look at the pictures that some authors/readers put up to illustrate who they think a certain character looks like — because I don’t want to know, especially if it means that I will associate that actor with the character before I get a chance to read the book. I also rarely share the models of characters that I use for my books. Because although I’m usually just relying on the pictures to cement a physical description in my brain (and usually it’s a specific shot of that actor/model — not just any picture of that person will do) the reality of certain actor’s/model’s lives could be a huge turn-off for anyone else. Once you see behind the curtain, you can’t always un-see it.
This is also why I like the relative anonymity of most cover models. I have no idea if they are a sweetie-pie or a coke-snorting diva — and I like it that way.
(At the same time, it’s nice to find out that some people don’t make you go DAMN IT when you follow their Twitter or when they give an interview or whatever. Not that I agree or care about everything they say, but I’m often relieved when they don’t go around being asshats.)
Anyway, despite my initial reaction and dismay, the Dirk Benedict quote probably won’t bother me TOO much if I ever re-watch the original BSG or A-Team again. It is, after all, just an opinion that I disagree with — and his perspective of the Starbuck character is something that I won’t have, and maybe there’s more of an issue at work here than a character’s gender (and if there’s one thing that I do understand, it is a fan’s reluctance to accept change [see my post on Wonder Woman’s pants]). So he didn’t want the character to be called Starbuck *cough* even though it is the same damn character *cough* — I totally get that.
Of course, I totally realize the irony of writing this, and how it could change a reader’s perception of my work if they really hate Kara Thrace or how many times I say “totally” in an average blog post, and so on. It’s a new and strange risk that comes with the internet, I guess.