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SciFriday: And What's Wrong With Female-Driven Stories?

Former 'Battlestar Galactica' star Dirk Benedict opens mouth, inserts foot

Dirk Benedict turned 65 this year, and I don't know, maybe he's starting to lose his marbles a little bit.

Thanks to "The A-Team" movie, news outlets have wanted to talk to him again (well, not all of them -- we had no interest), and Benedict seems to be having trouble separating himself from Starbuck, the cigar-smoking misogynist from the 1978 ABC series, as he describes the character.

I don't know if he's chomping on cigars, but the misogyny is certainly there.

"The new 'Battlestar Galactica' is female driven, like so much television nowadays," Benedict told SciFiNow. "I do not really have any feelings one way or the other about the new show. It is just a sign of the state of television today. Like I said, 'Battlestar Galactica' is now told from a female perspective. Our show was male-driven.

"I just worry about all the bad television being produced."

You might sit there and say you don't have feelings about the show, but the rest of your words are betraying you, Mr. Benedict. Phrases like "it is just a sign of the state of television today" do not suggest this is a positive state, but more where you feel those with a penis should rule, and everyone else should simply follow.

Maybe that mentality worked in the 1960s and the 1970s, and maybe even a little in the 1980s ... but it doesn't work now. And thank God it doesn't.

The state of television today is a mixed bag -- the way it should be. Joss Whedon really hammered that point home when he created Buffy Summers, who instead of being the screaming damsel in distress, ended up being the one person you turned to when your life was in danger by vampires, demons and the like in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

It didn't end there. James Cameron made Jessica Alba into a household name when he cast her as Max Guevera in his short-lived Fox series "Dark Angel." Then there was Josh Friedman taking a much different focus on the Terminator franchise, concentrating instead on Sarah Connor in Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." And let's not forget how strong Anna Torv's character of Olivia Dunham is in "Fringe." (Seems to be a strong pattern of female-driven shows on Fox).

Yet, even with those few examples, there is still a lot of male-driven television out there. Many of your procedurals like "House" and "CSI" as well as even a few genre shows like "Eureka," "Smallville" and especially "Supernatural," which has two male leads. Even "Doctor Who" seems to be staying away from any discussion of hiring a female lead.

So there is a little bit of something for everyone. Even the gay audiences can enjoy a lead of their own -- even if it is only one -- with John Barrowman's Capt. Jack Harkness in the "Doctor Who" spinoff "Torchwood."

That's what's nice about television in the 21st century compared to the ancient days when Benedict was on. Television has realized there is more to their audience than a bunch of guys in their boxer shorts burping, drinking beer, and making their wives cook dinner. So even if "Battlestar Galactica" was female-driven, who cares? And just to note, I don't consider BSG female-driven. Yes, a couple of male characters were changed to female, but a lot of that was because women -- especially women in positions of any significance -- were almost impossible to find in the original production from Glen A. Larson. It's a balancing that was absolutely needed.

The sad part is that I don't think Benedict has ever watched the show. Probably not even the episodes where his former co-star -- once a huge critic of the new version of BSG who is now an advocate -- Richard Hatch was involved.

"I wrote an article called 'Starbuck: Lost in Castration,' in which I mentioned that you cannot have the same character I played in a television show today," Benedict told SciFi Now. "He is a misogynist and he smokes cigars. He drinks and he looks at women, and he wants to take them to bed. Now how would that fit into the new 'Battlestar Galactica'?

"I am sure the producers looked at our series and thought, 'What the hell should we do with this guy? Oh, I know -- we will make him a girl.' It's a joke."

What, did you write that article in crayon?

Last time I looked, Starbuck -- even played beautifully by Katee Sackhoff -- loved those cigars. And while she wasn't bedding women (at least not on screen -- take a look at slash fanfic for that), she certainly didn't seem to have a problem sleeping around otherwise.

But then again, if a man sleeps around, that makes him awesome (remember Michael Knight in "Knight Rider"? He got laid every episode with someone different). If a woman does it, it makes her a slut.

I guess there is still a long way to go to get misogyny out of our society. And hopefully, we can start by better educating Dirk Benedict.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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