I don’t usually bother with the backstage drama. BW Media Spotlight is about looking at the end product, the story itself in whatever format I’m reviewing. I could have put this over at The Tronix Tumblr, if I ever used the darn thing and I probably should find an actual use for that besides promoting BW and Clutter Report posts and occasional reblogging. However, this was a topic I wanted to get the wider view on not because I want to join the throng defending or condemning the people in question. It’s more about getting past the anger and get to the heart of why this is troubling, because while the lady in question made a few good points she also got a whole lot wrong, and I want to cull the good from the bad and try to bring some discussion to this “debate” rather than something built solely on emotion. Also I wanted to point out some parts of G4 history everyone on both sides seems to have forgotten. This isn’t going to be another Frosk hit piece, but it’s not quite a defense either. Instead I want to put this discussion into perspective from a relatively unbiased view.
Now I wasn’t there for the Tech TV days or the merger. I’m not some G4 historian so if a fact or two is wrong understand I barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. I’m also not going to be doing a deep dive into what happened with G4 host Indiana “Froskurinn” Black (aka “Frosk”). If you aren’t aware of the situation to this point I posted a video by Midnight’s Edge earlier today that goes over all of that. Once you’re caught up with the rest of us, let’s go over by G4’s and Frosk’s actions were a bit overboard and how their recent “course correct” totally missed the point and just brought back Spike TV lite memories. Remember that period?
Let’s get the minor controversy that’s come from this out of the way. One of the things that “came out” was that XPlay reviews aren’t completely the view of the host reading the copy. They do try to play the games being reviewed but there are writers and producers who may play the full game and the hosts maybe play some of it so they sound like they have an idea what they’re reading about. They do play a full game that they review as well but they rely on the writers to do more than put their thoughts in order and put in some bad jokes you somehow still laugh at. This outraged some who saw this as the reviews being disingenuous, especially compared to reviewers on YouTube who play the full game and then write and record their review. I understand that but you’re missing the point. It’s a game review while XPlay does games reviews. Plural.
At one point the classic XPlay, which probably did the same thing, had at least three new episodes a week, plus some reruns. Each episode reviewed three or four games an episode, with a slot taken up by a longer skit if there weren’t as many new games to discuss at the time. Even back then they didn’t roll out like they do now, and they focused more on major publishers than they did the occasional indie title they may have stumbled across somewhere and wanted to try out. That’s multiple game reviews almost daily.
Meanwhile the YouTube game reviewers will review a game a week, and choose their favorite or one they really wanted to be good and failed to measure up. Some of them have skits, but even then they have more time to devote to every inch of a game than G4 does. Your average YouTube review channel has a handful of people AT BEST. Maybe you have an editor or someone to join you in your skits and possibly help with the scripting. It’s still one game per week, not twelve plus games a week. While I’ve seen less on the G4 YouTube channel I haven’t watched their Twitch streams and the closest I can come to seeing the channel itself is the G4 Select channel on Pluto TV (and I wish they wouldn’t bury Ninja Warrior) I’m pretty sure it’s the same reason now that it was back then. It’s no different than the news reporter at the desk reading someone else’s story when there isn’t enough to do a video on.
One last defense I’ll make of Frosk’s rant before we get into the wrong stuff, and this actually leads in, is that I wouldn’t be surprised if the response to her on the show hasn’t had at least some sexism, though more like she’s the girl so she gets different insults than the men. We know the “tits or GTFO” crowd exists, as if somehow the massive amount of pornography, streamers who have no problem being sexy on camera, and other types of “fanservice” aren’t readily available on the internet. It is weird if a guy thinks “I play with my joystick thinking of you” is a complement (then again there is that Divynals song, “I Touch Myself”, where the girl pretty much does the same thing and frankly it’s just as creepy). I also can’t see the feed that Frosk could because I don’t watch the G4 streams as I’m either trying to be less than two months behind on YouTube, doing this site, playing games myself, making comics, seeing doctors, and other life issues that sadly don’t involve having a life. Frosk’s comments could have been defensible if she stayed with putting this group in their place.
However, she did not, and that’s when the fight started. I’m not in Frosk’s head so I don’t know what she was thinking but her rant gave the impression that ALL of the negative comments she was getting was the result of not being “bangable” enough…please, I could probably find a guy who would hook up with her if I got out of the house at all, but she’s not into dudes anyway I hear. (Not that would stop them mind you. I worked with a guy who really wanted to get into a threesome. Fun fact: I had the option once but their approach was wrong, it was late at a nightclub so I’m not sure how sober she was, and I was never into one-night stands. Yes, I’m a straight male. Shut up.) Oh, I’m not saying there aren’t guys with that thought, but unlike Frosk I actually try to understand people I disagree with, and on rare occasion actually succeed. I also listen to what critics have said about her and while I personally can’t confirm all of this here’s my theory.
G4 pulled itself back from the ether through the power of nostalgia. The channel that had once merged with Tech TV had now been replaced by Esquire Network, that never really had anything on I wanted to see. I also just learned Canada had their own G4 schedule that outlasted even Esquire Network. It began with the above hour-long “reunion special” that brought back the four most popular G4 show hosts: Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb of XPlay along with Kevin Pereira and Oliva Munn of Attack Of The Show. This was a teaser for a new G4, but only two of them returned, Adam and Kevin. Munn still has her acting and voice acting career and I don’t know what Webb is currently up to. Funny enough she actually inspired this comic.
No, that’s not supposed to be Morgan, but I did steal her look for the bit and it was her complaint about the “girl gamer” tag that led to the commentary. It’s also the debut of the character that would become Beth. Man, I really have improved as an artist, though not as much as I’d like to. Sorry, back on topic.
Fans were disappointed that Oliva and Morgan weren’t returning. Was it fair to take it out on Frosk, Gerald the Completionist, Black Hokage or the others? Of course not. It’s par for the course. XPlay and Attack Of The Show had different hosts as the series went on. Oliva wasn’t the first co-host, but nobody begged for Sarah Lane to return. If she wasn’t “bangable” enough for you nobody asked for Munn’s replacement, or Kevin’s when he left the show. Attack Of The Show also had segments like Chris Gore’s movie reviews, The Feed, In Your Pants (a dating and sex advice segment while the show was still closer to geek culture), and of course Around the Next and The Loop, the most popular segments. I also really liked User Created, which included one of my favorite AOTS moments, where they tried to restrict one very successful contributor only for her to go above and beyond while being stuck with MS Paint. “Do a fake children’s book cover but only in MS Paint? @#$% it, I’m doing a whole book, suckers!” Sessler also left his show, with current former Senior Vice President Blair Herter taking over for him. Nobody asked for him to be back on air.
Each of those replacements also got flack for replacing someone they had enjoyed for so long. That’s the nature of things. Fans are often too slow to react to a new host. Why do you think the BBC buys more underwear for their management every time the Doctor regenerates, just in case? And yet Sessler, Webb, Pereira, and Munn are the four most famous G4 hosts. Their two shows crossed over pretty often, they did San Diego Comic-Con and E3 together, and for many people all four ARE the G4 network. Not having the quartet together, even if they didn’t start out together, rattles a few cages but Munn and Webb are busy with other things. Again, nobody called for Munn’s predecessor or replacement, whose name I can’t remember at the moment. They wanted Olivia Munn back.
This is where we torpedo one part of Frosk’s rant: that Munn especially and probably to a lesser extent Webb weren’t there as eye candy. Webb came from a Tech TV show, The Screen Savers, and was put with Sessler on the former Extended Play game review show, rebranded that episode as XPlay. I can’t say why she was moved to that show but as far as Olivia Munn…she was totally there to be eye candy. She’s admitted as much. Look at the stunts she did, from the Slave Leia outfit to skits like “The Lesbionic Woman” to that time she dived into a pie wearing a maid’s outfit (that won’t make sense in context either, and to Kevin’s credit he followed her lead…in the same outfit), and even had her own segment where she looked at magazine entitled…Olivia’s Rack. Her outfits sure showed off her rack, and I don’t mean the one with the fashion magazines on it.
It was around the time of Munn replacing Sarah Lane (who left along with husband Kevin Moran, nobody called for him OR his replacement as the roving reporter, Zack Selwyn) that G4 started to transition away from a gaming and geek network. Most of their game-related shows were slowly being canceled in favor of Ninja Warrior, Cheaters, Cops, and a host of other non-game shows. In the end, Attack Of The Show and XPlay were the only shows that survived from the original G4 lineup I was introduced to. Instead it focused more on men’s entertainment, even having a weekly movie showcase called Movies For Guys Who Like Movies. Some of the new shows were also part of the network Spike TV, the former Nashville Network, as of this writing now called Paramount Network. This led G4 fans to refer to this new direction as “Spike TV lite” and they weren’t all that happy. This is when the geeks were slowly replaced with the dude bros and while XPlay was simply further polished (and with the most dangerous set they could have possibly designed without OSHA dropping by) while AOTS seemed to embrace this new direction for the network.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that this may be the group going after Frosk, but I’ve also heard some of the critics of her rant complain about something other than her looks. They’ve said that she doesn’t come off as knowledgeable as the other hosts on video games. She is a gamer, so if that’s the case I have to assume this is about games she may not be interested in. You wouldn’t ask me to review a zombie survival shooter. Whatever the problem she didn’t address that. While I’m sure her insults were not the same as the boys, all three of whom already had a presence in the gaming review and playing community, and she was singled out by those insults, I don’t think lumping all critics into sexists, especially those critics who are female and that includes people I follow on YouTube or in articles on sited I read, makes her look good. It only draws more critics than defenders. I see too many celebs small and large, writers, and directors try to blame sexism and racism for legitimate complaints against a show, game, or movie, so for all I know they’re right too.
The whole conversation has been fueled by anger, revenge, hatred, and other emotion-first responses on all side, and Frosk just kind of added fuel, as did G4 when they came to her defense. The “if you don’t like my politics, don’t watch or read our stuff” angle is one I don’t understand. All it does is lose potential audience, which is a terrible thing for a network trying to revitalize its brand and can’t make the money people happy. Personally, if you don’t agree with my world view, keep on reading and maybe you’ll at least understand where I’m coming from or can enjoy the non-commentary stuff I do want to do more of. I think we can disagree while still finding common ground, while the usual suspects seem happy to destroy families in the name of extreme viewpoints and that makes me sad and a bit angry. I don’t always agree with my relatives but I still love them and I would hope they feel the same. That’s a rant beyond the scope of this site and frankly I’m pushing it as it is with this topic. My point is we all need to calm down, find common ground, weed out the extreme viewpoints, and get back to having fun. Instead G4 is shooting itself in the foot, so they needed to course correct.
THIS WAS NOT THE RIGHT RESPONSE!
On an episode of one of the new G4 programs, Name Your Price, a twist on The Price Is Right from what little I can tell, host Austin Show (I don’t know if that’s a stage/screename or his real name) had as a guest noted Twitch streamer Amouranth, who from what I hear streams from a hot tub in a bikini or at least did once. She was brought in to jump out of a ball pit in said bikini. (I’m using the version from Austin’s own channel but surprisingly G4 still has it up on their YouTube and Twitch channels.) This was their idea of course correcting. “Oh no, Frosk was wrong and we’re totally into eye candy. Here’s a hot redhead. You all say redheads are being shoved to the side so here’s one and she smoking hot and shaking a shake weight which was only a good idea if you had a pervert rating of -10 and I’m not sure it actually helps but look at her shake that thing in a tight dress after coming out of a ball pit in the skimpiest bikini we can get away with. Do you love us now?” I’m not against Amouranth doing what she wants to do. If she wants to perform sexy for her audience or for Austin Show’s audience, go ahead. She is indeed hot as hell and I have a weakness for redheads. However, it basically says you DO agree with Frosk that your audience is made up primarily of the “tits or GTFO” crowd. Getting G4 back was hoped to be a return to classic G4, the network for gamers and geeks, despite Olivia being one of the people being called back. (She may have a geeky side. We were surprised to learn Megan Fox was into archeology.) This is more “Spike TV lite” nonsense and the complete opposite of Frosk’s rant. Again, I’m not complaining they did it because I don’t care. I’ll never meet her. We may not have much in common, and I’m almost twice her age so unless she’s into older men and traveling across the country I get no real benefit from it. It’s just your timing is…questionable given the current climate.
Back when G4 was announced I was among those wondering if we need G4 to return. If this is how they’re going to operate, with extremes and not a lot of the G4 the nostalgic wanted to see, maybe we didn’t.
(Oh, and since I won’t be talking G4 much after this: if Kevin Pereira sees this, I find it funny that you and Code Miko were trashing Second Life when you’re the one who introduced me to the game and the non-adult stuff still gets made today. It got a lot of people through the lockdowns I’m sure. Try looking at more YouTube videos from it and less RedTube.)