Ok, by now you’ve all seen this: Lt. Starbuck… Lost in Castration. Yeah, I know. It’s been making the rounds ever since the new BSG started. Dirk Benedict has his knickers in a wad because the new Starbuck is a girl. ZOMG! NOES!!!! I was trying to ignore this, but apparently he’s recently reposted it at Big Hollywood, where old asshats too conservative for the Scientologists to deal with go to shoot what’s left of their careers loudly in the foot.
This is really disappointing to me on so many levels. For starters, I am old enough that I watched the original Battlestar in first run. I had a huge crush on Dirk Benedict as a young girl. In the late 70s Scholastic had a magazine you could order through the weekly book club thing they did, called Bananas. And one of those issues had a Dirk Benedict as Starbuck poster. I think it’s still in a box at my mom and dad’s somewhere. It lived on my bedroom wall until such a time as Duran Duran and Motley Crue supplanted Dirk Benedict in my daydreams. I loved him in “Scavenger Hunt,” a fantastically goofy movie about “Milton Bradley’s” heirs competing for his fortune in a scavenger hunt, per his will. I ADORED the A-Team.
But this is like a slap in the face, this misogynist screed using the updating of a show and a character as an excuse to spew this hateful crap. The original BSG was bad. It was poorly written, played for laughs, no pathos. I loved it, yes, but I was eight. The new show is not just a transformation of a relatively shallow show into something new, but an entire re-invention. It barely shares a skeletal structure with the original. Mr. Benedict is pissed because they’ve “castrated” HIS Starbuck by turning him into a her, that they’ve castrated the entire show by having strong female characters. “Men hand out cigars. Women “hand out” babies,” is one of the least offensive things he says. I am deeply saddened that I once harbored a crush on this hateful boor.
I have news for you, Mr. Benedict. A lot of those young girls, like myself, who daydreamed about you when they should have been paying attention in class, we didn’t just want to date Starbuck. A lot of us wanted to BE Starbuck. My daydreams about that character didn’t involve me sitting around on the big ship waiting for him to come back to me. In my daydreams, I was the first female fighter pilot, out there fighting the cylons with him.
I know I cannot be alone in this.
I LOVE the new Starbuck. Kara Thrace (played by Katee Sackhoff) is awesome. I wish I’d had her as a role model when I was that age. Hell, I fantasize about being her NOW. I don’t know that I’d let kids as young as I was when I saw the original watch the new one. I mean, “33” scared the hell out of me, and made me cry. But apparently young girls are watching the show, and writing her fan mail. And I’m glad. I’m glad that they don’t have to imagine they’re the ONLY female fighter pilot. I’m glad that their fandom comes with a place for them built into it, instead of them having to imagine a way they could be the exception.
That, and as I’ve said before, when we were watching the miniseries, and the scene where she punches the Colonel happened, the Mister looked over at me and said, “Honey, she’s you!” I don’t think they’ve written her as a “man with tits” as so many have complained. And maybe I’m biased, because I’ve been hit with the “man with tits” label so many times in my actual life. But I find her realistic, engaging, a nuanced and complex character. She breaks the trope of female heroes by having had something happen to someone she loved, instead of to her. I find her guilt over his death, in all its manifestations, very real.
And seriously, Mr. Benedict’s screed sounds more like a cry of “I could still play that role!” than a legitimate beef. And I think most of the people who’ve read it feel the way I do about it. You are not Starbuck, Mr. Benedict. You are an actor who happened to play that character for a season. In making Starbuck a woman they have not castrated, or even attempted to castrate, you. Had they left Starbuck male, you still wouldn’t have been tapped for the role. You’ve aged out of it. What would you have railed against then? And quite frankly, this screed has probably ruined any chance you might have had to cameo on the show at all. Seriously, Dirk, growing old gracefully? It isn’t just for women anymore.