Ode To G4TV: I Want My Geek TV
The sexy and quirky Olivia Munn. The hilariously talented and quick witted Kevin Pereira. The passionately geeky and funny Chris Hardwick. The sarcastic and logically critical Adam Sessler. The beautiful and unerringly intelligent Morgan Webb. The awkwardly comic and powerful Jessica Chobot.
Between about 2003 and 2012, I frequented G4TV/TechTV as the only somewhat accurate representation of gamer culture on Cable TV. As a gamer and someone who craved a variety of opinions on the latest game and news in the gaming industry, G4TV was the closest thing to having a source of geeky news on a daily basis. Interestingly enough, I hated watching news channels and programs due to my desire to remove myself from the negativity and anxiety inducing stories that were pumped through TV journalists 24/7. Instead, G4TV’s programming spoke to me in a way that reinforced my hobbies of escapism. As an engineer, the channel’s occasional focus on technology (which is probably more applicable to IT work) was also appealing.
To this day, I set the bar for all of my podcasting endeavors at the level of Kevin and Olivia’s onscreen chemistry. While they didn’t always hit the right note with their comedic choices, their timing and personalities would often pull off skits and lines that many other hosts just couldn’t do. I miss it. Oddly enough, the amazingly popular culture of geekdom today (which is flourishing in mainstream coverage I might add) misses it as well. While there are so many other podcasts, YouTubers, and Twitchers that manage to seemingly fill the void for this younger generation of geeks, those of us who remember the days of this channel’s peak certainly value what the odd programming brought to the table on TV.
Let’s face it. G4 wasn’t perfect. There were many nights I would sit and wonder why certain skits were chosen and realize that the demographic that they were aiming for was often times exclusive of myself. Personally, I thought that their chosen demographic of the younger more TRL-esque white male crowd was mistaken as I often spoke to fellow minority and female geeks and gamers who would frequent shows like X-Play, Attack of the Show, The Screen Savers, and The Electric Playground to name a few. I suppose Silicone Valley didn’t have a wealth of camera ready minorities or something to that effect (I’ll save the diversity discussion for later). Not to mention the fact that the content of AOTS often times seemed like you were in the midst of a frat party (overly sexualized jokes, skimpy dressed The Feed hosts, etc.). While a lot of that was hard to watch, the fleeting moments when real opinions about stuff like new DVD releases by Chris Gore or great new comics to check out by Blair Butler were priceless. The ‘critics’ that they had there were really good and I tended to agree with their opinions of certain media. I know this rant is a bit AOTS-centric, but let’s face it…aside from X-Play, most everything else on the channel at one point was either American Ninja Warrior or COPs.
In the later years of Attack of the Show, during the period that I call “Post-Munn”, I always felt that the show struggled to find that comfort zone as they had a rotation of special guest hosts (which included Chris Hardwick of the now wildly popular Nerdist group as well as the “Talking Dead” show). My wife, who is basically allergic to geek culture for the most part, had even found enjoyment (sometimes) in watching Attack of the Show as a part of our daily after-work routine. At times, she would latch onto an interesting celebrity interview or a bit of news concerning video games or interesting technology and gadgets. While she never did fully take the plunge into geekdom, she did manage to cave in and become a fan of amazing shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. While she does admit to loving those shows, she’ll never consider herself a geek. In my eyes, I see the days of AOTS as her tenderizing for these shows to make their way into her heart!
The insanity of AOTS introduced me to things like The Glitch Mob, Chris Hardwick, Blair Butler, Andy Allo, Grace Helbig, Baman and Piderman, countless things on Gadget Pr0n, and much much more! Occasionally, the content of the show would get a bit heavy with on air debates about a few topics but it was pretty much understood that if you were a guest on AOTS that you didn’t really want to take yourself too seriously. Even the gaming coverage that was done on X-Play would occasionally be worthy of 30 minutes of my life. Lists of recommended games or of classic games were always welcome to see even if the reviews themselves weren’t in line with my own opinion on certain games.
Then something happened. As the “Post Munn”-era continued, I began to see more and more of the negative sarcasm of hosts like Adam Sessler become more of a regular thing. Like most of the other older heads that could stomach most of the MTV-audience-directed jokes and tone, I noticed that new episodes of X-Play were less frequent and COPS began to dominate spots before and after the AOTS geek block in the late afternoon or early evening timeframe. Even Kevin Pereira’s demeanor seemed to show shavings of sadness and discontent. Let’s face it. Attack Of The Show was a live daily news outfit that required a LOT of ‘upbeat’ energy to match the style of what was to be discussed on the show. I imagine the days with good celebrity interviews were easier, but trying to mask having a bad day or anxiety about the shelf life of the show (much less the whole channel) had to be ridiculously difficult. Honestly I can’t imagine the hate mail that was directed towards Morgan Webb or Olivia Munn or Kevin Pereira or Sara Underwood from people that either felt like they could do their job or simply just hated the ‘hot-girl-eating-a-hot-dog-in-a-bikini’ tunnel vision that the channel seemed to want to focus on.
As an amateur freelance tech and gaming critic, I imagine I always saw myself eventually building up the cred to work with such creatives as the G4 crew and Kevin Pereira, whom I still follow and listen to on his entertainment venture The Attack and The Pointless Podcast via Supercreative.tv. I would shoot them random emails looking to become a part of the online editorial staff. For a time, I essentially thought that working for/with them was the ‘top of the line’ position for the freelance writing grind that I saw myself as a part of. Eventually I realized the need for me to push forth and do it myself. Still, for some reason, seeing G4TV alumni has this odd nostalgic feeling. I essentially chalk it up to my hunger for geek culture to be and stay in mainstream view for some odd reason.
I suppose, because of my age, that I’m missing out on the wealth of YouTuber content because, I suppose, I’m just really looking for that outlet that is a video talk show styled hodge-podge of geeky news and debates aimed towards an adult audience. With the dominating popularity of geek culture nowadays (cue the theme music to Talking Dead or Comic Book Men) there HAS to be some television guru that sees the benefit of an all geek related channel. There’s certainly a wealth of talent on the interwebs of personalities that could hold up the belt. I see ‘geek’ channel rather than ‘gaming’ mostly because I don’t think a cable channel dedicated to ‘gaming’ is practical. Most gamers will consume their content while on their console or on their PC so trying to put a cable channel on with that related content doesn’t make sense. Machinima is probably the closest thing to a gaming styled channel in my mind and even that had to alter its custom content to include a bit ‘more’.
With streamers dominated the gaming ‘content’ industry nowadays, there really isn’t a reason for it. Now a show dedicated to gaming culture and doing news reports on developers and interviews and such on a channel WOULD be something people would watch though. Gamers at least. It would certainly need to be oriented towards a more diverse demographic than AOTS and X-Play had though. Sure you could have a segment dedicated Minecraft creations and how-to’s for the kiddies but there’s no need to focus ALL of the content around them. Think about it. Topics like GamerGate, the Star Citizen debacle, and much more could be explored, debated, and reported on much like anything else. Bring in a ton of expert opinions and celebs that know a bit about the topic and make a Bill Maher styled show focused on gaming culture and news! Talk about the fall of Nintendo or the popularity swing from Microsoft to Playstation. These are THANGS we’d love to see on TV! Worried about ratings? Stick it on NETFLIX! Do something!
Anyone out there? I’m sure there is, but I suppose the one thing that is missing…
Is me *cue Superman stance and incessant delusions of grandeur*