Keeping It Down
Memo to G4: YOU WANT ME TO HATE YOU.
Look, fuckers, there's only so much goodwill you can earn by showing me Makoto Nagano. That goodwill covers repeated airings of Cops, sixty percent of any given episode of Attack Of The Show, and your inexplicable decision to keep paying Kristen Holt to be Kristen Holt, which is not, I repeat NOT, actually a marketable skill.
Which means no matter how many times you run Ninja Warrior, that still leaves you, as a network, firmly in the hate column thanks entirely to Code Monkeys. I'm sure your crack marketing team has figured this out in whatever spare time they have left between signing up yet another unaccredited "video game college" for another six months of ads. So why would you keep antagonizing me?
Now, I know I'm fond of hyperbole here. And I flippantly toss around words like "horrible", "worst ever", "death of civilization", and "penis" like they came free with Happy Meals*. But I want you to know that I don't say this lightly: "Hurl" may be the worst idea for a television show ever. It's so horrible, it could very well lead to the death of civilization as we know it. Penis.
As a reasonably conscientious American, I am fairly disgusted by competitive eating contests. I mean, even when you ignore the huge and well-documented sociological ugliness, it's just nasty. But at least for the most part, the people in eating contests are getting fed. And if they're not being fed, they're careful to keep the purging part of the equation safely backstage.
When a sport as hideous as competitive eating thinks that vomiting is unseemly, then what does it say about people who see reverse peristalsis as the holy grail of entertainment? It says they are gaping moral fuckholes, that's what it says. And yet here is "Hurl", premiering this summer. It's a game show that STARTS with a competitive eating challenge, then takes the contestants and puts them on carnival rides.
Or throws them in pools, or straps them on mechanical bulls. Basically, anything to get them to spew all that food they just choked down. ON CAMERA. The show is utterly unapologetic about its goal - to convince you to watch other people vomit. Hell, if they manage to keep their food down through the carnival rides, they go back for a second helping of what the press release describes as "a surprising new menu item", and we all know what that means. That means the people Fear Factor bought all their bugs from won't be suffering during the recession.
There are two possibilities. First, nobody wants to watch this. I'd like to believe this, but one of the side-effects of the Information Age is that anything can find its audience. I don't want to read Harry Potter porn or see the Sex and the City movie, but clearly audiences for these things exist. G4, a niche channel to begin with, is going for an even more niche audience. ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE QUOTE TIME!
"G4’s mission is to be a multi-media destination that’s ‘relevant’ and ‘authentic’ to the interests of today’s young male demo. ’Hurl’ is really an idea that is inspired by the world of viral video which has proven to be massively popular with young guys today." - Neal Tiles, G4's president, well aware of the irony inherent in producing nauseating quotes about a vomiting show.
Ah, the frat boys with YouTube demographic. They've watched their friends vomit. They've watched strangers on the Internet vomit. But have they watched complete strangers vomit from multiple camera angles on a 60-inch screen? I'm guessing they have not. And if G4 is right, and that's what they've been waiting for all these years, then we're even more fucked than I thought. There are some things that mankind was never meant to know. The marketability of puke may very well be one of them.
*As far as I know, only the first three words come free with Happy Meals.