Gape at the Dawn of Gamer-Bro Sexism With 1983's 'Vidiot' Magazine
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Discovered at: Archive.org
The Cover Promises: "The magazine of video lunacy!" Also, come Christmas '83, you're just going to love Atari's E.T.
One popular method of picking up girls at the arcade is by zeroing in on a filly having trouble with your favorite game....After she triples her score, you can bet it'll be Suckface City from there on in!
The good news, I guess, is that the 1983 Vidiot article "Arcade Macho: Pick Up or Shut Up," seems in part to have been intended as parody. Its filly-dazzling advice includes nonsense like scowling as you enter the arcade, burping after chugging a can of soda, and removing all gold chains and punk-rock T-shirts, as they aren't manly. The burping is key, the piece claims, immediately upon meeting a woman: "She'll feel that inner glow of security knowing that a Real Man is present."
Such satire, of course, might be confusing for the kids who actually bought Vidiot, the impossibly Eighties magazine that brought Creem into the Atari age. Early on in the piece, Vidiot lays this on its audience of horny young Pac-freaks:
Remember the law of Supply and Demand: I demand that you supply me with as many women as I desire. You gotta let the girls know who's boss, plain and direct.
The piece was probably just an excuse to justify this photo and caption:
The joke might be funnier if it didn't sound exactly like the advice of pickup bros from then and now. If we're charitable and assume that Vidiot was lampooning the sexist assumptions some early male gamers might have had about their female counterparts, we must toast the piece for its prescience: It reads exactly like today's Reddit threads.
Is there a literary term for satire that is indistinguishable from what it's satirizing?
And it's hard to stick up for Vidiot's burlesque of arcade sexism when it also ran photos like this:
How did they miss the joke that he's literally playing Moon Patrol? One-handed, even?
Ass was dear to the Vidiot readership:
This is where a young Tom Six got the idea for Human Centipede.
Don't mistake the magazine for a straight-up strokebook. Most of its pages were filled with somewhat serious coverage of arcade games and early home systems, like Atari and ColecoVision. But that laddish tone worked its way into much of the copy.
Here, Vidiot implies Ms. Pac-Man gets around, pops pills, and eats too much:.
The Creem really comes through, there. I defy you ever to listen to the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" again without thinking of Ms. Pac-Man.
Also, Pinky the ghost is "fey"? Maybe he (he?) should master the art of soda-burps.
Elsewhere, writing up the Popeye coin-op, Vidiot finds common cause with the Gamer-Gaters of today: You know what drives poor ol' Bluto to violence?
Sometimes, Vidiot seemed uncertain just how to fills its pages. What else could explain their choice to run this lengthy pinball-is-like-doin'-it joke as a cutline to a press still from Happy Days?
Creem was a lively, let-it-blurt rock mag of legend. Some Vidiot photoshoots make it clear this was coming from the same scene.
Issues available over at the great Archive.org site boast photos of punk and new wave stalwarts posing with Asteroids and Pac-Man and other machines: Look for Blondie, David Johansen, and more.
Here are some of Vidiot's other big gets:
Oh, look: After making himself a soul man with the Blues Brothers, Aykroyd '83 was making a play for Run-D.M.C.
Creem enjoyed the reputation of a badass rock integrity, especially in its review pages.
Vidiot, sadly, was a different beast, one that seems to have been willing to do what it had to do to keep the creators it covers happy.
Just like the game magazines of today, Vidiot was totally willing to give big releases from the major publishers much too much benefit of the doubt.
From Vidiot's preview piece on Atari's E.T., the most notorious flop in videogame history:
"That seems to be the only flaw with an otherwise A-1 game." Lester Bangs weeps!
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