Late on the evening of June 14th, Chloe Dykstra posted an unlisted essay on Medium entitled Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession. In the essay she recounts an especially painful period in her life which was the result of a relationship that she was in with an unnamed man. Besides being an online personality, talented cosplayer, actress, and daughter of special effects master John Dykstra, Chloe is also known for having been the girlfriend of 90's has-been turned nerd icon, Chris Hardwick.
In the essay, Dykstra goes out of her way to never mention Hardwick by name but leaves enough clues that made deciphering the easy even for the most casual of ID10T (formerly Nerdist) podcast fan. In the essay she refers to the former companion as a "sober" "man almost 20 years [her] senior" who is "a powerhouse CEO of his own company... obsessed with celebrity, being famous, [and] famous people". All signs point to Hardwick.
It was my intention to approach this article giving her the respect of not pointing any fingers at the former Nerdist CEO but once Hardwick released his statement countering her accusations, I believe his given anonymity was pulled off the table. So with that here we will examine that accusation, past actions, and fallout.
If you read Chloe Dykstra's essay, the accusations are very upsetting and reminicent of the first act of any abusive husband movie. The reason I say the first act is because it seems that though Hardwick was allegedly controlling and manipulating emotionally, and verbally abusive, he never got physical. She recounts rules that were set up for her including; not going out, not drinking alcohol and not having male friends. The essay escalates to a point where an anorexic Dykstra found herself ectopically pregnant and afraid of his reaction. Because of the pregnancy's potentially dangerous/fatal outcome, it was decided that she would have the fertilized egg surgically removed. After her recovery, in front of her mother, Hardwick allegedly (and I assumed jokingly) asked the doctor when he "could have sex with her again".
In his counter he says that her essay "blindsided" him and contains "serious allegations and not to be taken lightly". He confirms that the "three year relationship was not perfect - [they] were ultimately not a good match and argued" but concluded in saying that did he "at no time... sexually assault her". The final half of his official statement alleges that "Chloe had cheated on [him], and [he] ended the relationship" and that she "asked to get back together... wanted to have kids." As true as that might be the accusatory portion of his defense took up a larger portion of the statement than his shock and reflection on the essay. Often a troupe of the guilty, and a bad sign in a statement of an innocent man.
The Nerdist Podcast was one of the very first I ever listened to regularly. It introduced me to many comedians and other podcasts that I would have never heard of otherwise. Like a web, from them I found WTF with Marc Maron and from WTF to You Made it Weird and so on. As my tastes changed and Chris Hardwick became more successful, I stopped listening. He became more and more warped and egotistical with his rediscovered popularity and it became hard to listen to; a host who often times felt, himself, more important than the guest. Often comparing the person's accomplishments (sometimes scientists and astronauts) to those of his own. The beginning of the end and the end came, for me, in the clips below:
When working on a podcast with other funny people, a lot of times people on mic will step on eachother's feet. It happens with us all the time and the key is to wait until there is an opening and continue with your thought. In this clip it seems that Hardwick and his two co-hosts, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira are enjoying the riffing until it is obvious they are not. After Hardwick's outburst the things are tense and it comes across in the audio. FULL EPISODE HERE.
The next three clips are all from the same episode and cover the same subject; a cancelled appearance on Comedy Central's @midnight by Jonah Ray. The gameshow, that ended last year, was hosted and produced by Chris Hardwick.
Beyond being co-hosts of the Nerdist Podcast, the three are friends. It would only seem logical that you would want your friend to succeed by acting in one of 49 episodes of a TV series than be buried in one of the 500 episodes of a late night game show. FULL EPISODE HERE.
Further evidence can be seen in his actions regarding his opportunity to get Vin Diesel for a special video promoting the 2015 movie The Last Witch Hunter. A little bit of a backstory; back in the day Chris Hardwick would play Dungeons and Dragons with fellow comedians Brian Posehn, Blaine Capatch, Patton Oswalt, Gerry Duggan and a few others. In 2012 Posehn started his D&D podcast Nerd Poker along with Capatch, and Duggan. During gameplay they discussed how Vin Diesel was a fan of the game and started to pitch the idea of getting him onto the podcast to play a game. Through Twitter and other means they attempted but unfortunately nothing came of it. Jump to 2015 when Nerdist was approached by the studio responsible for The Last Witch Hunter, instead of including his old fellow dungeoneers, Nerd and Sundry (a sister site to Nerdist) did the exact same thing Nerd Poker had been attempting to pull off. A decision that serves only to prove that success trumps friendship when it comes to Chris Hardwick.
THE FALL OUT
In the days following Dykstra's essay and as of the writing of this article, Chris Hardwick has been scrubbed from the Nerdist website (a site he started but was no longer associated with), had both The Talking Dead and his AMC talkshow suspended, dropped out from panel hosting at this year's SDCC and has NBC reevaluating their relationship with him and the show The Wall.
The fall out reaches far into the nerd community with geek icons who are also friends of Hardwick being forced to ride the fence with tweets or going the Jonah Ray route and remaining quiet on the situation until all the cards fall.
I'm shocked, and I'm sure you'll understand that before I'm ready to make a public statement about my best friend to 3 million+ people, I need some time to process what's going on and put words to my thoughts. Thanks for listening and understanding.— Wil 'this account mocks fascists' Wheaton (@wilw) June 15, 2018
The other part of the fall out is the numerous projects that Hardwick is/was the face for that are now either in limbo or never again will be. If the ID10T podcast was to end the talent will land on their feet but unless the people behind the scenes are still on with Nerdist in some capacity, they will now be out of work. The same issue arises with the TV shows where he is the face of the show. Chris Hardwick has spent a lot of time and effort making himself more of a brand and less of an individual. It is evident through Chloe Dykstra's essay and through his response that the Chris Hardwick Brand is more important to him than others and even maybe himself.
There are always two sides to every story and somewhere in between is the truth. I won't say that Dykstra's account is 100% true but from Hardwick's own action in the past (beyond the examples given above), actions that he doesn't try to hide nor does he think there are any problems with, her story is very believable. In the coming days and weeks I am sure additional accounts will come to the surface and this story will continue to develop unveiling more issues and examples from people both big and small who have crossed path with the nerd community's once shining and now tainted star.
This article was written by Andy Carl Valentin and in no way represents Reservoir Geeks as a whole. The opinions and statements are that of Andy Carl Valentin alone.