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Opinion

G4’s Failure Was Avoidable, Yet Expected

G4 TV and its highly toxic culture finally hit a breaking point in the last week, when a massive amount of layoffs hit the floundering network and people found themselves updating their resumes.

This should come as no shock to anybody who has been following the G4 saga whether it be casually or avidly. The product was inferior.  The new personalities are bland.  There is an infinite number of Youtube creators who operate out of their home that cover things better than G4 does, with a fraction of the money that G4 Has backing them.

The original incarnation of the channel was a phenomenon.  You had charismatic, energetic, attractive people relating to a demographic that was socially awkward at a time when geek culture, comic books, and video games were not mainstream or cool in any sense of the word.

Women that looked like Olivia Munn and Morgan Webb were unicorns in the geek community. Keeping in mind, this was long before twitch.  So seeing these women not only creating content for the geek community; but being incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic with what they were playing was amazing in the sense that they weren’t doing this for the paycheck.  It wasn’t a gimmick, these girls were smart, capable, and ready to educate.

Olivia Munn and Kevin Pereira served as hosts of “Attack Of The Show” for the original run of G4 their chemistry kept the fans tuning in and the show was a huge hit.

Kevin Pereira and Adam Sessler rounded out the core group. With their experience you had a fun, energetic, charismatic group of hosts that engaged with the audience and gave us programming  that cable tv has never seen before.

Then the Internet started to become more influential.  Youtube caught on, gaming sites were sprouting up like weeds, other people were getting in on the action.  G4 couldn’t adapt and the channel died a slow, unceremonious death.  All that was left was a fond memory of an irreverent channel that entertained and educated an enthusiastic fanbase.

Attack Of The Reboot

Years after the original crew signed off at G4, somebody at NBC-Universal overdosed on a strong batch of ‘member berries and decided that it would be a good idea to revive the dormant channel.  Clearly as the news has proven, this would slowly develop into a disaster that Jerry Bruckheimer couldn’t even begin to conceive.

Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil is an expert gamer who came to G4 with a very strong Youtube following. But his presence is awkward and he doesn’t seem to interact authentically with the other hosts of X-Play.

You had internet personalities thrown together that had no chemistry, jokes that would land flatter than a store brand soda left out in the sun, and hostile programming.  nothing about the new G4 was appealing for the average viewer.  None of that fun chemistry was present.  

It was a sterile, political, boring, condescending lecture. One show after another, that is what the viewer received.  Then there was the infamous rant.

The Rant Heard ‘Round The World

On an episode of X-Play, Indiana “Frosk Urinn” Black was supposed to talk about the gameplay of “Red Dead Redemption 2”.  Instead, the viewer got a lengthy rant in concerns to sexism in gaming.  It was not well received.  Frosk berated the viewer in a rude and hostile manner, fueled by encouragement from her fellow cohosts.  She finished her rant with the always counterproductive quote: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it…”

To be absolutely clear, I am not discounting Ms. Black’s reservations about the gaming industry.  Sexism in the industry has been a problem since day one and is something that needs to be continuously addressed.  My problem is the manner in which her addressing of the issue was carried out. 

To belittle an audience that simply just wanted to tune in and see what the pros had to say about what was at the time one of the hottest video games on the market was jarring.  Nobody wants to relax and tune into a show about their hobbies, only to be yelled at and berated through the screen.

Frosk dressed down her audience in an undeserving manner that came off less sympathetic and more arrogant and defiant.

What also wasn’t lost to the viewer in this epic rant was the fact that in the middle of her tirade, Frosk admitted to not playing the games that she was reviewing.  The hosts of X-Play had staffers play the games for them and write feedback, which they would convert into a script.

That is akin to Richard Roeper sending me to the movies and writing  his review based on my feedback.  That admission was damning to the quality of not only the show, but the channel itself.  The mirage evaporated.  Everything about G4 became inauthentic seconds after that rant went viral.

The channel started losing thousands of subscribers by the day, and thousands more stopped viewing and engaging.  Yet, the network doubled down, praised Frosk and used the rant as a marketing tool.

A Poor Executive Decision

One would assume that when such a polarizing statement was made, a PR team would come in and perform some semblance of damage control.  No such thing happened.  Along with using this rant as a battle cry for the network, Senior Vice President Blair Herter responded to upset viewers with the “Don’t like it, don’t watch it.” mantra.  

Blair Herter’s handling of Frosk’s rant is a prime example of how not to handle a problem.

Now, I’ve never been to business school. I am still fairly certain that anybody in upper management is supposed to calm things down when your core demographic is upset.  I don’t think that there is a in the manager’s handbook that calls for throwing gasoline on the fire.

The Tweets Didn’t Help

Adam Sessler, who was once a brilliant host and fun to watch on the original incarnation of G4 turned into a bitter shell of himself with this version of the network.  He became mean spirited and militaristically political.

His Twitter account was interesting to say the least.  He claimed that republicans as a whole are stupid, and consume bodily fluids.  He also would go on to say even more vulgar things about the republican members of his family.  Among other things, he stated that he would proudly watch them die while sipping on something bubbly.

Adam Sessler at one point was a fun, engaging host who had viewers engaged on the original run of X-Play. On the show’s second run, he became bitter and angry.

People have their politics.  I respect that.  Vote how you want to vote, and disagree with something that you think is wrong.  That is one of the cornerstones of this country.  However, if you are the face of a business; different rules may apply.

According to Gallup, there are almost thirty-seven million republican voters registered.  That number does not include unaffiliated voters and independent voters that lean right. 

Believe it or not, a large percentage of that number plays video games.  That is a lot of people to alienate.

To quote Michael Jordan: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Final Thoughts

Whether it is one of the many right wing gaming channels popping up on Youtube, or left leaning networks such as G4; activist journalism is finally starting to take its toll on the viewer.  Divisiveness never works. It looks like this is a lesson that is finally going to be learned. 

As a matter of fact, while I was writing this article; I just got a notification that Frosk Urinn was finally let go days after sending out a tone deaf tweet gloating about her survival from the layoffs as her more deserving colleagues were updating their resumes and packing up their belongings

After being a large contributor to the network’s lack of viewership, Frosk sent out this tone deaf tweet while her colleagues were facing termination.

 

There is too much divisiveness going on in the world already.  Let’s start leaving the politics outside where they belong so we can start bringing the geek community back together. 

Thank you for reading.  When I am not writing, I enjoy spending time with my wife Barbara, my two year old daughter Frankie, my hound Marbles, and my ferret: Ms. Farrah Pawcett.

For more fresh takes and insightful conversation, please check out our Youtube channel.  Stay Geeky Everybody!

 

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