Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

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EricoBard
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:00 pm

True; nowhere in the course of the show is Abby Sinian called "Professor." But here's my justification for it, which takes a passing knowledge of the rules of Academia, and her specific specialties.

We see that Dr. Sinian works in the Megakat Museum of History. In her work, she is not only responsible for overseeing the exhibits, but she is also in charge of managing the texts and rare books in that collection. In her work, she is thus a combination of a curator and a librarian/archivist; it requires a special skillset for both, and they don't let you work at a museum if you don't have a doctorate. My sister recently got her Master's degree in library science with a focus on archival and rare document preservation and storage; she is now going after her doctorate.

Among the various classifications of a "Professor" is that of a Research Professor; someone who has little, or NO teaching expectations hoisted on them, and whose main responsibilities are research and study. Many research professors rarely receive a full university salary, and have other tasks to supplement. Dr. Sinian's role as curator of the MK Museum of History fits this niche rather correctly. We never see her actively engaged in the task of teaching, but we do see her take on the tasks of a research professor consistently throughout the show's duration.

The strongest piece of evidence of her as a research professor is the expedition to Katchu Picchu; her archaeological dig team is on site when the Pastmaster arrives and starts stirring up trouble. Archaeological surveys that have the focus of excavation and relic/artifact retrieval are carefully monitored, controlled, and approved; such expeditions are typically the enterprises of multiple historical societies and universities. In her role as curator of a museum, Dr. Sinian would have little pull to authorize or work on such an expedition. Were she a Research Professor at a larger institution of higher knowledge, like Megakat University or some other unspecified College, the process to get the funding, and approval for, such a large expedition becomes much easier.

Thus, while the show may never identify her as a Professor as they do Hackle, who presumably did some engineering instruction along with working for Pumadyne, her skillset and the actions she takes within the show lend themselves strongly to her having the classification of Research Professor.
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby Kooshmeister » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:50 pm

Yeah, but she's still never identified as one. That's indisputable. Even if she does hold the title of professor, everyone calls her Doctor. It's fine to mention she might be a research professor given what we see her do, but she should be listed as Dr. Abby Sinian, as that's her canon name and primary title.

Also, how do we know Sinian is also the museum's archivist? Do you mean the scene in The Ghost Pilot where she gets a book to read up on the Red Lynx? If the simple act of taking a book off a shelf means she's in charge of the books and texts, isn't that like assuming I'm the janitor where I work because I clean up a spill?

Anyway, the book she retrieves is in a place where anyone can go get it. In fact, it appears as though it's in the airplane hangar. She and Callie are clearly in the hangar, and then Sinian walks forwards all of two feet and takes the book down off the shelf. Hardly evidence of her specialty as an archivist.

To be fair, it appears as though a transition error occurs in that scene, and the background used for when she gets the book is a different room containing a dinosaur skeleton and not the hangar. But this still doesn't mean much, because the same background is used later for when Sinain calls Callie to tell her what she's discovered, and I'm pretty sure it's meant to be the room in The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice where the chest was, just seen from a different angle, and this room is right outside Sinian's office. So whether in the hangar or right outside her office, the book is in a place she wouldn't need to be the archivist to get it.
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EricoBard
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Re: Writing Good SWAT Kats Fanfiction: Staying In Character

Postby EricoBard » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:52 pm

I give the show a wide berth for inaccuracies, because library science, professional archaeology, and rare document/archivists all operate in a very insulated, private world that the population at large is clueless about. In truth, Dr. Sinian should have the most rare documents locked in temperature/pressure/humidity controlled vaults, should always be wearing gloves to prevent shedding/oil residue, etc...

But this is a cartoon show, a kid's cartoon show, and the folks doing the writing and the animating have likely never experienced that personally or had the time to reach out for complete accuracy.

As a compromise to your concerns, I'll edit her post as Dr. Sinian, but I won't stop personally referring to her as a professor. It's a matter of RAW vs. RAI; a conflict which hails from paper and pencil RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and so on.

RAW is shorthand for Rules as Written: Like supreme court judges who take a hardline that the U.S. Constitution is a document with no room for interpretation, RAW in the framework of this particular issue with Abby Sinian is exactly as you state it: The show only ever addresses her as "Doctor" Sinian, therefore, she is just a doctor.

RAI is shorthand for Rules as Intended: That a literal interpretation is not always the correct one as times and circumstances change, and that some room for modification can and must be given as needs must. I take the side of RAI with my examination of Dr. Sinian.

When the writers and animators on the show created Dr. Sinian, they were likely unaware of the specifics in her field: She, like all of the tertiary cast, exists solely to create situations or to present a solution to them. They didn't know enough about the historical sciences, the library sciences, to make the necessary adjustments for complete accuracy. They made her a doctor. They INTENDED for her to be a Professor, they just didn't know enough to make the necessary adjustments. And that's where we come in.

We cannot answer every unanswered question, but we do have the capability to use critical thinking; What were they going for when they made her character? What needs to change to flesh her out more fully? My answer, using the principle of RAI, is that she's a Professor. They intended her to be. The books, the texts she references may not be where they need to be, but she KNOWS where to find them. A Curator who left the archival of rare documents to the Archivists on staff would take longer to find and supply the answers needed. They just lacked the knowledge set at the time to give Sinian her full due.


Anyhoo. I've made the compromise adjustment and provided my reasons for this interpretation of Dr./Professor Sinian. Continue to call her a Doctor only if it pleases you. My use of the term Professor is meant to give additional foundation and explanation as to how she continues to be so effective in the course of the show, and how she's definitely not a Lara Croft/Indiana Jones sort.

Next up, a certain nosey television journalist...
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