Cult-hit gaming channel G4 has only been back for a few months after its nearly decade-long hiatus, and already the hosts are fed up with some of the assholes in the audience. Former esports commentator and new Xplay co-host, Indiana “Froskurinn” Black, specifically called out the crude sexism of viewers, online commentators, and other randos that she still faces in gaming in the year 2021.
“In joining G4 I was ecstatic to be part of something I grew up watching as a child, but every time G4 is brought up in various channels, even in this YouTube channel—we have the chat in front of us I can see you—without a doubt there will be backlash because I’m not as ‘bangable’ as previous hosts,” Black said during a “Gaming Grievances” segment that aired yesterday.
Black was referencing Morgan Webb and Olivia Munn, among others, who during their time as G4 hosts were sometimes treated by both the show and its audience as sexual objects who were then also harassed for being “fake gamer girls.”
“It has somehow been expected that you can talk about how much you jerked off to women as a compliment,” Black said. “It’s not a compliment. It’s dehumanizing and it’s weird. Women do not exist to be nice on the eyes for you. Morgan Webb, Olivia Munn, did not exist to be nice on the eyes for you.”
Her remarks were shared by G4’s official account on Twitter where they blew up with others, including many of the gaming industry’s most prominent women, backing Black’s message.
One of the more infamous moments in G4’s original run came when Munn suggestively licked a PS3 during a “Megathon” coverage event for the console’s 2006 launch (a lot of things were licked on G4). In 2009, children’s song writer Parry Gripp wrote “The Girl At The Video Game Store” to celebrate Attack of the Show’s 1,000th episode. A music video for it starred Munn being lusted after by a young fictional customer at the store, and in many ways a stand-in for the median G4 viewer. Whether it was a role Munn crafted for herself or was forced into in order to succeed in a male-dominated field, it wasn’t a license for fans to be demeaning, nor to project those expectations onto others.
Munn, who went on to star in 2012's Magic Mike and HBO’s The Newsroom, wrote in her book, Suck it, Wonder Woman: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, about a 2004 incident where a Hollywood director, later revealed to be Brett Ratner, masturbated in front of her in his trailer. Prior to other allegations coming out against Ratner, the X-Men director went on G4’s Attack of the Show in 2011 (after Munn had left) to promote an upcoming movie and used the interview to make sexually demeaning and racist remarks about the former host to her former co-host, Kevin Pereira.
While G4 relaunched last November with a much more diverse staff this time around, it’s clearly been hard to exorcise all of its past demons, including the misogyny of some of its early fans. Pereira is back headlining the new incarnation of Attack of the Show, while Adam Sessler co-hosts the new version of Xplay.
“We’re Xplay, not Adamplay,” Black said yesterday on the show. “Adam will read a script written by the same writer that I will read the other half of the script for but I’ll be the one flamed. Both things can be true: that there is a general hatred of any change that isn’t Adam and that I’ll receive special flame just for being a woman.”
She went on:
When you’re in our DMs or in those YouTube comments or in Twitch chat right now, those reactionary threads thinking I’m somehow ruining your current Xplay experience because you can’t objectify me how you previously did to Morgan, or that I’m somehow less qualified to speak on something but you can’t quite put your finger on why even though I’m reading the exact same script as Adam, but you have no problem when he’s part of it, you’re letting your unconscious biases ruin my day and you’re gatekeeping the gaming space.
“Holy Shit i just bore witness to one of the most amazing things i’ve ever been part of on live TV,” Sessler, who applauded loudly through a TV screen while broadcasting remotely, wrote on Twitter yesterday. “I love Froskurinn even more if that was possible.”
While Black was specifically drawing on her own experience at G4, that experience is far from unique. As the gaming space has proven time and again, no channel, company, or community has a monopoly on sexism, racism, or other forms of hate and ridicule. But it’s also true that some of the biggest names in gaming—from Xbox to Activision Blizzard—played a part in cultivating a hostile atmosphere for marginalized people for decades, whether by letting it run amok or actively trying to profit from it. Understandably, those left to pick up the pieces are fed up.