There are a ton of embittered gamers out there, totally and completely miffed that they spent their Saturday evening – all three hours of it – watching what amounted to a YouTuber's daily basement-quality video amped up by 10x (and minus 7 for the fact that it lacked gifs and memes) and essentially felt like padding for something that never arrived. The alternative, of course, was spending the Saturday evening with a box of Kleenex and a photo of the next-gen game console they can't afford, so it's not like it was a total bust.
Nevertheless, Spike's VGX has effectively been labeled as a “train wreck” by, well, everyone. It was trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons and is currently filling up news aggregators and social media sites with tons of negative criticisms.
No one can consistently say what the exact problem was, but everyone knows that every part of it was a problem. One of the bigger issues of debate was whether the Dorito Pope and the Dorito Bishop made the show better or worse. Well, I have to say that Joel McHale working sidekick duty with Geoff Keighley was the best worst thing to happen for the Spike VGX Awards show.
From insulting developers, to picking on Keighley like the kid brother he never wanted, to dissing the game community with lame jokes, and even bludgeoning viewers with deadpan wit that was so thick that it would make Janeane Garofalo blink twice to question if there was sarcasm involved; McHale stole the show with the sort of awkward laughter you would expect from a less-than-sober Larry David. The alternative would have been sitting through an insipid and boring show that wouldn't have been any different than a Bonus Round on Game Trailers.
Funnily enough, there's some minor debate about whether or not GTA V deserved to beat The Last of Us as 2013's Game of the Year, but for the most part all the chatter, dialogue and social media meta-verse has been consumed with how terri-bad the VGX awards show was. From the Loiter Squad proving that some pro-lifers are wrong for wanting abortions banned, to the cheap set designs that looked like they were rented from a college student who was squatting in a condemned loft, the whole thing was an epic fail.
However, the one centrifugal nexus of entertainment that held the show together was the cringe-worthy comments and nonchalant snark of C+ television star, Joel McHale. The guy managed to make every embarrassing moment of low-budget drudgery a slightly more entertaining affair to distract viewers from that 80 inch television surrounded by the garbage that was gathered from Andy Dick's front yard and stacked around the set as if a blind construction worker was accidentally hired to erect structures as an artistic interpretation of the Xbox One's resolution output.
Unlike Player Essence, who said the show “sucked” and should “R.I.P.” or The Koalition, who hammered the show harder than Rob Ford hits the crack pipe, I can't help but note that McHale is what got me through those three grueling hours of commercialized puff.
I don't know if it was when Keighley looked about ready to keel over from complete and utter embarrassment, or when he almost went full Dorito Pope on McHale and seemed borderline ready to call down a strike from nacho heaven to bury the Community star through the cheaply made floorboards, but all of it had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see if the Cheesy One would finally crumble. Heck, Elite Monster nabbed this awesome photo of just how close Keighley was to clocking McHale, check it out....
But it was this Canadian versus American machismo that helped save the entire show. McHale joked about the Pope's accent, and the Pope ignored him. McHale joked about the Pope's lack of crack sniffing, and the Pope ignored him. McHale joked about Keighley piling on more clothes as the show progressed, potentially in an attempt to nearly cover his whole face and disappear off the face of the planet and never be seen again, and yet the Pope... ignored him.
Truly, one must give Keighley props for following through with his own piety; playing it safe and being the bigger man, in spite of being the shorter man.
McHale's rise from worthless not-so-well-known celebrity sidekick, to butch, I-couldn't-give-a-rat's-anus-about-my-paycheck attitude gave the cavalier crusader against blatant commercialism a hint of much needed charisma (and watch-appeal) to carry the show.
Heck, I was sitting there at the edge of my seat thinking "What could McHale possibly say next to make me feel even more uncomfortable than I already do?" and it takes a man with either very big cajones or very small brains to bring about that kind of discomfort.
McHale knew the whole thing was a bust, quipping quickly and incessantly away from the teleprompter's instructions to infuse something beyond the ho-hum nature of a GTTV featurette bloated up to suck three hours of life from viewers that none of us will ever get back.
Nevertheless, from the awkward and stilted silence that followed award announcements, to the awkward and stilted silence that followed introductions for developers most of the crew probably didn't know, the whole thing was offset by one man's attempt to fight the man... or rather, fight the Pope.
I'm almost tempted to say that Keighley and McHale should star in an odd-couple-esque sitcom together, just so the uneasy duo can force us to watch uncomfortably, as we sit, cringe and laugh at the off-center comedy. I know it was the one thing that helped save the Spike VGX Awards, I mean it certainly wasn't that embarrassing series of acts that took place outside, where even the live audience groaned and moaned at antics a lobotomized five-year-old wouldn't be caught acting out.
With that said: McHale, thank you for turning that cringe-worthy mess called the Spike VGX Awards into an unwatchably entertaining evening we won't soon forget... but hopefully we all will someday, because otherwise it'll be a stain to our memories like a wart on our brain.