For me, Aisha Tyler had always been a bit of a painful Friends memory. Not because she wasn’t a good actress, more because she just wasn’t a good fit for Joey or Ross, and I remember hating her for that, well hating her character Charlie at least. Years later and the next thing I remember her in was Ghost Whisperer which I hated much, much more than her character in Friends, mainly because Jenny Love Hewitt grates on me somewhat (probably because she has better boobs than me).
The next time I remember seeing her was walking on stage at the Ubisoft press conference at E3 2012. She strode on, all six feet of stunningness, impeccably dressed, with a far too genuine smile and I thought to myself, “why the crap is she hosting this!?”. I couldn’t believe someone as “mainstream” and “preppy” as her could possibly be into videogames. Of course, looking back now I am disgusted at my more judgemental self because I have been on the receiving end of that sort of thinking.
The backlash she got for hosting that press conference was immense. SO many people slating her for being a “fake gamer girl” (oh how much I now hate that phrase), throwing insults at her, questioning her authenticity and acting like they had some kind of insider information, or look-in on her private thoughts and interests.
Despite this onslaught of hatred, she was back the following year, dripping with enthusiasm for the games on show. Why would she come back and risk that same public slandering again? What’s the point? The reaction from the majority of the gaming community was the same again, almost outrage that she had been allowed to come back. What is a famous, beautiful actress doing hosting a game show again? She has no place here, she doesn’t fit in! Particularly over here in the UK, the cynicality that seems to be hardwired into our brains came into play. No one could be that excited about something and be being genuine. She MUST be faking it. It probably didn’t help that the new consoles she was being so hyped up about were failing to hit the mark for a lot of us. But we bought them didn’t we? And enjoyed them too, so she was obviously talking from experience.
After that second year I thought that was it. With 2 years of abuse on social media, I just knew there was no way she would open herself up to that crap again... Well, I was wrong.
Cut to the present day and on walks Aisha Tyler to present the Ubisoft press conference. I am completely taken aback, and even laugh at the fact that she is here once more. She must be a glutton for punishment, I think to myself. Then I realise I’m smiling. Like a big smile. And I’m smiling because she’s making me smile. And now she’s making me laugh, she’s actually really funny. In fact she’s the only memorable and interesting host of the night.
She even addresses why she keeps coming back, because she really loves videogames, and all I can see is utter excitement in her eyes. She really does love videogames. She’s not faking it for the paycheque. I mean why would anyone put up with that amount of abuse unless you actually love what you are doing? Truth is, I've realised what an inspiration she is to me. She’s totally confident, straight to the point, and adores videogames. She makes the crowd laugh, she’s down-to-earth and accessible. She does a wonderful job, and despite not having the most appealing lineup of games for me, she makes it, by far, the most interesting conference.
So I’d like to issue an apology Aisha. I’m sorry for not believing you. I’m sorry for judging you. I’m sorry for essentially objectifying you, reducing you to physical attributes that couldn’t possibly be into videogames. You have highlighted slut-shaming by appearing to the gaming community on such a large scale, showing that misogyny in this industry is still at large. And before every man and his dog jumps at my throat, I don’t just mean men. I say all of this as a woman who is guilty of the very same thoughts.
You Aisha, are wonderful. I can’t wait to see you next year.