According to G4’s Xplay and Boosted host Indiana Black, the various instances of pushback and disagreement she has received during her time on the network are not only the result of “sexism in gaming,” but also, as she herself put it, the apparent fact that she is “not as bangable as the previous hosts.”
Black voiced her thoughts on a recent episode of Xplay during a segment titled “The Airing of Gaming Grievances” in which the show’s hosts – Black, Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil and Corey “The Black Hokage” Smallwood, and Adam Sessler – were given an opportunity to do just that.
Though she opened the segment with a minute long discussion of her particular grievance against Rockstar’s seeming ambivalence to introducing new, quality content to Red Dead Redemption 2’s online mode, Black soon revealed to viewers that she “actually wanted to talk about something so much more important than Red Dead Online: sexism in gaming.”
“In joining G4 I was ecstatic to be part of something I grew up watching as a child,” Black began her rant, “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 am not as bangable as the previous hosts.”
She added, “It has somehow been expected that you can talk about how much you jerked off to women as a compliment. 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.”
“And that’s just obvious sexism,” Black declared. “You don’t need to explicitly objectify women or declare that you hate women to be sexist. Just go ahead and check out [esports broadcaster] Thorin’s latest meltdown on Twitter for some Spark Notes.”
It appears that the catalyst for Black’s tirade may have been criticisms and disagreements she received in response to her reviews, as the host next moved to address how “here at X-play, our reviews are written and produced by a team of people. There are too many games for one person to shoulder the burden, so we divide and conquer.”
“So when we use language like ‘we’ or ‘I’, that’s the reviewer, that’s coming from the mouth and experience of the reviewer reading that review,” she confusingly put forth. “And that’s not to say that Jirard, TBH, Adam, or myself don’t contribute to the reviews. We absolutely do. But it will always be in varying degrees and take a whole team behind us.”
She asserted, “That’s why we’re ‘Xplay’ and not ‘AdamPlay,’” much to the joy of Sessler, who was shown clapping exaggeratedly from his home studio.
Continuing, Black stated, “We have done the experiment and controlled for the variables. 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.”
She then admitted that though “it also happens to Jirard and [Smallwood],” their experiences do not “discount the sexism of how it happens to me when it does.”
“Both things can be true!” she exclaimed. “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. And I wish I could turn the camera around so you could see the incredible team that make Xplay. Half of our producers and writers are women.”
Drawing her thoughts to a close, Black informed viewers, “When you’re in our DMs, or in those YouTube comments, or in Twitch chat right now, those reactionary threads, thinking that 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 with his part of it, you’re letting your unconscious biases ruin my day and you’re gatekeeping the gaming space.”
“So maybe, for 2022, we be a bit nicer, a bit more self-reflective, and we enjoy the fact that people are working hard to make free content for you,” she concluded. “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. PEACE.”
Now, it’s true that women experience gendered insults and criticisms on the internet everyday, just as most people do based on their immutable traits, whether they be black, white, female, male, or anything else. It’s something that most internet users are actively trying to change everyday.
However, given her admission that Smallwood and Khalil both experience push back, as well as the fact that the reviews are divided up in their presentation between multiple hosts, the ‘gender specific’ flame Black claims to regularly receive is likely less a widespread case of full-blown misogyny and one of players disagreeing with specific points being made.
And while, yes, there are multiple team members working on the reviews, by her own admission, she is the one who publicly presents the final product to the viewers. As such, it should come as no surprise that a public voice of an enterprise may receive the brunt of any fan push back, since they’re the ostensible ‘middle man’ between the viewers and the production team.
It also seems odd to use G4 as a platform to denounce the objectification of women in light of how, when Black herself was “a child” wanting to work there, the network themselves aired such evocative segments as the aforementioned Munn eating a hot dog, and having her play along with Attack of the Show co-host Kevin Pereira standing behind her in a sexual pose.
Currently, G4 appears to be on step three of The Critical Drinker’s Five Steps for Franchise Destruction, as after having “picked a really popular IP with a loyal fanbase” and “updating it for ‘modern audiences,’” the network revival attempt is now set on “antagonizing the fanbase” – albeit after release, not prior to.
Further, Black’s conclusive declaration of “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it” echoes the similar rhetoric put forth by Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick in October 2017, when she told SyFy, “If you don’t like my politics, don’t buy my book. I’m going to make the book that I’m going to make and if you don’t want to read them; don’t read them.”
Of course, in the years since, DeConnick has gone on to lament the failing state of the mainstream comic book industry, telling KGW news reporter Destiny Johnson in a 2019 interview, “’I’m straight worried.”
“Stores are closing at a phenomenal rate. Independent comic sales are down. Mainstream comic sales are down except the top three or five books are up. Everything in the mid list is way down,” she admitted. “Numbers that used to be numbers that would get you cancelled are now like, ‘No, that’s a hit.’ Independent books making the back the cost of doing floppies is– like names that should be able to do it no sweat are going into the red on singles and not coming out until the trades. And it worries me.”
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