WILDLY FRUSTRATED: The nerd news media blackout on TV needs to end
San Diego Comic Con has come and gone, but unless you kept your face inches away from your cell phone, tablet, PC, or laptop this past weekend, you may not have known. That fact is shocking considering how much nerd culture has permeated everything nowadays. I mean, between Hollywood’s reliance on superheroes to keep them rolling in money, the general popularity of comic books, and how much we rely and thrive on tech devices, why wouldn’t the populace want to see such coverage, right?
Actually, there was one hour of TV coverage for Comic Con if you knew where to look for it, and you have ESPN to thank for that.
That is correct – ESPN, the 24-hour sports television monolith, showcased Comic Con longer than any single network. While you’re taking the time to wrap your head around that, I want to thank the show that brought it back to TV: “His & Hers.” Hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill decided to take their typically sports discussion program on the road from Connecticut cross-country to California to broadcast at Comic Con.
While they didn’t entirely forgo their usual sports commentary, this particular episode focused on topics that were true to their location. The duo interviewed Mike Tyson about his Adult Swim cartoon and his action figure, talked with actor Clark Gregg about “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and interacted with fans at the convention itself! All in all, I was very pleased with what I saw… as pleased as a nerd could be with only an hour of attention. I’d like to sincerely congratulate Michael, Jamele, and ESPN for taking even an hour out of their programming schedule to bring Comic Con back to TV, even if it was only just a taste. But this brings a question to mind – why the hell is there such a drought of this entertainment news on TV?
It wasn’t always like this. There used to be a network dedicated to all things nerd! Do any of you remember G4? I sure as hell do, and it was friggin’ awesome! If you do not, they’d have programming that catered to everything and anything under the “nerd” umbrella. Tech, movies, comics, comedians, video games, authors, music – G4 would cover it all! They would also have comprehensive coverage of Comic Con, E3 (which is to video games as Comic Con is to superheroes), and various other conventions as segments on their various shows. Sadly, not all good things last.
G4 died when owner NBCUniversal decided to rebrand and relaunch it as the Esquire Network. They were hoping to aim for the metrosexual audience (their words, not mine, folks) and focus their programming on travel, fashion, and cooking shows. Besides showing “American Ninja Warrior” (Japan’s inferior American counterpart), a spattering of original content, reruns of other NBCUniversal-owned programs, and your common variety basic cable movie offerings, Esquire really isn’t doing anything all that special for any kind of demographic. Clearly, that was a great move on NBCU’s part.
I digress. I mentioned E3 above. Man, G4’s E3 coverage was nuts! They’d set up shop for the entirety of the expo – that is five full days of press conferences, trailers, developer interviews, demos, etc.! It was a nerdy video game overload! Granted, it did become boring towards the end of the week, but it’s a fuck-ton better that what is offered now!
Since G4’s demise, Spike TV has tried to give us some sort of E3 viewing. Unfortunately, it feels as if they are merely placating the video game audience. If we are lucky, we may see two hours of content before Spike goes back to airing reruns of “Ink Masters,” “Bar Rescue,” “Cops,” and whatever movies they can get their hands on. That isn’t two hours per day, either; that two-hour block is the total of what they air, and they make sure to get it out of the way on the very first day. How fucking gracious of them.
And yes, I know that everything they show can be found online. To be fair, everything can be found online, so that statement is a cop-out, if you ask me. Someone or some network should have filled the void left when G4 was buried. If Marvel and DC execs are appearing on “Good Morning America,” “The View,” or any kind of daytime TV show – shows whose demographics could give two shits about superheroes, comics, etc. – then people obviously feel there is a need to report on this kind of news. If that’s the case, then it would make sense (to me, anyway) that someone should deliver it to the viewer.
The vacuum has been created and someone should fill it. SyFy would make the most sense to help fix this travesty – too bad they are more worried about creating terrible reality TV competitions, airing movies that couldn’t even be considered B-level cinema, or making awful TV movies with abysmal CGI, cheesy scripts, and even worse acting. Honestly, I haven’t the foggiest fucking idea who could actually pick the ball up and run with it. It could just be my nostalgia rearing its ugly head again, looking back at all those wasted hours during the summer at a part-time job, surrounded by TVs, and killing those hours with nothing but nerd news. It was glorious, and it can be glorious again. Someone just needs to take that one step to bring it back to the semi-self-respecting world of basic cable.
While I wait for that to happen, though, I might as well bury my face in my tablet. I still haven’t seen the newest trailer for Zack Snyder’s latest messiah homage.
by Rich Cicci
Rich is a player of board and video games; lover of beer, movies, music, and comics; connoisseur of the arts and the inappropriate; and a pop culture columnist.