Thursday, April 06, 2006

No Deal

I must've missed the boat on this one -- it has taken this long for Deal or No Deal to blip on my radar. But when it blipped, it damn near screeched. What is up with the increasing lunacy and anti-intellectualism of gameshows nowadays?!? Okay, so gameshows have never really been about awarding the best and brightest. Jeopardy was the exception to the rule, where the smartest (or at least those with the most inane number of facts stuffed into their head) earned their way to maybe $100,000 or so (if they won for a couple of days). Other gameshows still required a little bit of thinking, some brainpower and some good deduction skills. You actually had to earn the money you won. Wheel of Fortune required that you knew your ABC's and could spell. Family Feud gave you money if you could correctly predict the answers of a group of unknown peers (an assimilationist's fantasy). And there was The Price is Right, which at the very least rewarded you for being a smart consumer and knowing the prices of common household items. Extra bonuses for spaying and neutering your pets. But then, along came Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? in which we started to see the degradation of the game show. You had to answer easier questions than Jeopardy, and you could ask your smart friends for help. So you didn't actually have to be smart, you just had to know some smart people who were so nerdy as to be home by their telephones when you called in for a Lifeline. And of course, Alex Trebek never gave hints like Regis. "Are you sure that's your final answer?? Are you sure you don't want to pick D? C's not your final answer is it?? You still have one lifeline left... *mouthing* Pick D, you dumbass! Pick! D!!" And then there was Hollywood Square which rewarded you not even for having to know the right answer to a trivia question, but only having to know if Whoopi Goldberg was fucking lying to you if she didn't know the right answer!! And, understanding the rules of Tic-Tac-Toe. And then, along comes Deal or No Deal which makes all its predecessors look like Quiz Show. In Deal or No Deal, average Americans are awarded an enormous sum of money not for knowing trivia, not for being able to guess prices, not for knowing their alphabet, not even for being literate (for there is no reading involved); no, Deal or No Deal rewards contestants for their pure, dumb luck. They are considered extra skillful if they can count to fifty, but it's no prerequisite -- they can just point. See, the rules behind Deal or No Deal are simple (and if I get this a little wrong, consider it only because I watched about two minutes of this show before throwing the remote in frustration). A number of dollar values ranging from $0.50 to a couple million dollars or something are hidden within 50 suitcases. Contestants are attempting to choose and open all the suitcases that contain all the low dollar values and remove them from the board without opening too many suitcases with high dollar values in them. They are allowed five suitcase choices, at which point "the Banker" calls and offers them increasingly large sums of money to stop guessing for suitcases and just end the game. Hence, you take the Banker's "deal" or "no deal". This is a White Man's game if ever there was one. Not only is the only skill you need the ability to guess from fifty suitcases arranged in front of you, but a mysterious Banker (with the voice of God) periodically calls you to just randomly offer you money for doing nothing. You know that shit would never happen to a person of colour. That's how good it is to be White -- people just randomly offering you money for just sitting around and counting to fifty. What are we going to get next? A gameshow that offers you a billion dollars for controlling one's heart rate? A fifty thousand dollar bonus for competitive breathing and imaginative blinking? And of course, periodically through this gameshow, Regis Philbin drops from the sky to offer a million dollars to any contestant who can pass the paper bag test. Thanks, but not thanks. I'm still rooting for the minorities whenever they're contestants on Jeopardy.


Blogger jose said...

It is the most boring hour on television, and it's a bit of a puzzler because it pits two stereotypes of Americans against each other: 1) stupidity, and 2) short attention spans. The show satisfies the former but flies in the face of the latter.

You're right about Family Feud. It's one of the most culturally-biased active game shows. Jeopardy! and Millionaire can be, in some respects, but they've gotten better about it.

Some real eye-openers are the old (read: 1970's) episodes of Match Game on the Game Show Network, which are often obviously racist. Nothing better than seeing old C-list celebrities propagating stereotypes. The older ones from the 1950's (To Tell The Truth, What's My Line) actually seem better in that regard, with the overt racism coming in the form of terminology.

4/06/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Rtother said...

I believe that there was a game show that involved controlling one's heart rate. I can't recall it's name, but it featured contestants strapped to a chair and spun around while water was sprayed on them.

4/07/2006 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Jeopardy: best gameshow ever.
Deal or No Deal: The show sucks... yes.

White Man's game? Not so fast... this may be a redneck's game. Just like the lottery, you do nothing and expect great things to happen to you. This is a fool's game, just as the lotto is a tax on the ignorant.

Americans, in general, do have a sense of entitlement, for a variety of reasons. Whites, Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans all expect something for being here. Maybe it's just a cosmic desire, a la, "I must be here for a reason!" Maybe it's just our boundless neediness that makes us grasp for anything that will satiate us for a moment and prove that we deserve more.

Although I am not wild about ANY sense of entitlement, I can understand it. It is a way to rationalize your position in the world. If your capabilities can't match your greedy needs, there must be a reason for it, and a remedy.

The contestants on DoND have only their greed to compete against, they can never go home with less money than they came with. Just less than they were "entitled" to.

At least American game shows have an advantage over the ones I watched in Japan... they let average people play. Japanese game shows only feature celebrities. Now THAT is a White Man's dream (despite being an Asian man's creation)! "I am already rich and powerful, no cheer for me as I try to gain more wealth, hahahaha!"

Frederick Douglass said, "People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get."

If only that were true.

4/07/2006 12:44:00 AM  
Blogger jose said...

I believe that there was a game show that involved controlling one's heart rate. I can't recall it's name, but it featured contestants strapped to a chair and spun around while water was sprayed on them.

I don't recall that last bit, but The Chair, hosted by John McEnroe, was a quiz game show that deducted possible winnings for exceeding a certain heart rate.

4/07/2006 02:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my favorite part about being White is definitely when random people call me and offer me huge sums of money for sitting around and doing nothing.

*eye roll*

(incidently, i do agree that this is the most worthless game show ever. even "Press Your Luck" required a SMALL degree of literacy.)

4/07/2006 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

lol, I think jenn was being sarcastic there :)

4/07/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Lee Herrick said...

you have me thinking, has there ever been a female or minority game show host? bob barker, chuck woolery, wink matindale, alex trebek, regis philbin, bob eubanks, pat sajak, howie mandel...hmmmmmmm.

4/08/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

there was what's her name from that game show where each contestant had to answer questions correctly keep the chain going... i haven't been able to think of the name of the show or host in days...

4/09/2006 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger Sheldiz said...

meredith viera hosted daytime Millionaire, and that British chick hosted Weakest Link. what was her name? Ann something? Kennedy from MTV hosted Friend or Foe.

4/09/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Another piece of trivia....has there ever been an Asian family on Family Feud? Or was that creepy guy kissing the women just too much? I don't know the answer...

4/09/2006 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Lee Herrick said...

oh yeah, the weakest link.

and van, i don't remember ever seeing an asian family on family feud.

jenn, now you have me curious...i can only think of password plus or 25,000's not those shows, is it?

4/09/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

actually, sheldiz got it with the weakest link... i couldn't for the life of me remember the name of that show or the name of the host. all i remembered was the silly music and this one time when someone like wil wheaton or something was on the show and sucked.

4/10/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger jack (aka angrybrownbutch) said...

I always cheer for the people of color and the women on Jeopardy. I get pretty worked up about it and feel so disappointed and sad if my champion of choice does not beat the white men.

4/10/2006 03:58:00 PM  

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