Is G4 sending a message to the hormone-crazed young men in its target demo or to the FCC and anyone else in Washington who’s pondering the idea of applying indecency standards to cable television? The Comcast-owned channel for videogamers ran an ad in the June issue of lad mag FHM featuring Leisure Suit Larry’s Sally Mae, a skimpily-clad blonde “Video Vixen,” as G4 refers to game-babes. In the ad, Sally wears a revealing shirt and is pulling down the back of her hot pants to reveal several inches of butt-crack. The tag line: “Kiss my perfectly-proportioned, computer-generated ass.”
The ad is for this Tuesday night’s Videogame Vixen of the Year contest (“Television’s First Digital Beauty Pageant”), an event that is not going to win a congeniality award from the Parents Television Council.
“The fact that these are animated cartoons versus real women doesn’t make it better. It’s meant to elicit the same reaction as pornography,” says Melissa Caldwell, the council’s director of research. Caldwell says the contest—and its slot on the not exactly high-profile G4—bolsters the argument for reining in cable, either with indecency standards or by offering a la carte or family-tier programming options. “It shows how hard it is to monitor what programs are coming into your home.
“You may know that MTV is something you want to watch out for, but who’s ever heard of the G4 channel?”
Answer: a lot of obsessive gamers whose idea of taking a break from staring at videogames is staring at television about videogames. G4 marketing chief Gaynor Strachan Chun says the racy ad and Vixen contest are entirely appropriate. “It is right for our audience,” she says. “This is how they see the characters in the games.” She also points out that the show is scheduled late at night—which is true enough on the East Coast, where it goes on at 10:30. But the modestly budgeted G4 doesn’t send a West Coast feed, so that’s 7:30 Pacific.