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How To Lose Friends & Alienate Geeks

olivia munn attack show princess leia 4 c80I am a woman, I am a geek, and I do not look like Adriana Lima.  I devour trade paperbacks like Ex Machina and Preacher, I quote episodes of Firefly, and I will happily discuss the philosophies of Watchmen for hours on end.  I am a self-proclaimed professional VGW (Video Game Watcher); I can back-seat drive you through any map on Halo from my comfy spot on the couch.  In my mind, I am a typical American fan girl.  Having attended numerous comic and geek culture conventions like the San Diego and Pittsburgh Comic-Cons and Monsterpalooza, I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending fan girls of all shapes, sizes, and ages.  Yet, when I turn on G4, a television channel devoted to all things video games, technology, and web related (essentially, genres of the geek kind), the only females that I see on the screen could easily be mistaken for Victoria’s Secret models.  (Think that I’m over-exaggerating?  Be sure to catch an episode of Attack of the Show, co-hosted by Playmate-of-the-Year Sara Jean Underwood.)  Fortunately, this program casting was not always the case; however, in recent years, the channel has undergone numerous corporate overhauls and consolidations, steering itself further away from its originally intended fan base.

Please know that I am not a naive person.  I understand quite well that sex sells in our culture, and heterosexual men, especially those of the geek persuasion, will never turn down an opportunity to watch ridiculously attractive women talk about video games.  However, given that geek culture is no longer dominated by men, I found it puzzling that the powers behind an outlet like G4 would purposefully alienate an entire target group from its audience.  Sadly, as I researched the history of the channel, I learned that the network’s management was not only forsaking it female audience but video gamers and geeks as a whole.  In 2002, G4 TV was created to highlight the world of video games, going so far as to offer airtime to video game programmers with the hopes of keeping the industry alive.  By 2005, following several mergers and under the new management of Neal Tiles as president, the following company directive was issued to Variety magazine:

Now, under the aegis of Comcast and new president Neal Tiles, G4 is evolving into a lifestyle channel, peppered with video game culture, as opposed to wall-to-wall games.” ‘We’re going through a change. Guys like to play games, but not necessarily watch a bunch of shows with games on the screen,’ Tiles says. ‘So what we’re doing now is expanding G4 from a network solely defined by video games to one inspired by them.’

In the years following, the channel’s video game programming greatly diminished, giving way to MTV-style countdown shows hosted by women with larger cup sizes.  It seemed that the channel’s management cared less for program hosts who were knowledgeable about the genre, and more about its ability to feed video game-themed info into the teleprompter for the latest hot model.  Rather than focusing on the quality of its content, G4 was forced to vie for the same audience that tunes in to the Spike channel.  Ironically, fans of the geek culture started as kids who were alienated by their peers, found a home of their own in the G4 channel, and were then cast out of their home because their programming wasn’t designed for a broad enough audience.  

It has become a rarity to hear anyone in geek culture referring to G4 or any of its programming as a provider of the latest in video game news.  To be honest, the channel has become somewhat of a joke in geek circles.  Given the accessibility of the internet, most fans have focused their attention to websites like Ain’t It Cool News and GeekTyrant for the latest news in comics, video games, and movies.  These and other news sites were founded and produced by true fans of the geek genre to serve like fans.  The most important thing about these websites: they don’t discriminate.  They serve all fans, men and women, young and old, Buffy and Twilight.


Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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