Friday, February 08, 2008

Ignorance is a gift?

Watching the TV today made me remember some of the reasons for which I've never liked to watch TV (except for sports). One of the reasons that keeps me away from TV is the more and more decadent shows that can be found in every channel: some of them appear to be committed to cheering people's stupidity, humiliating them live, and from time to time rewarding their ignorance and idiocy.

When I heard about Big Brother, I found the core concept of that show pretty boring. I thought that no worse shows could be ever shown on TV, until I found about Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Public humiliation was the value offering of the show to the audience, which made me feel sorry about the poor rookies that appeared there only to be humiliated by Mr. Trump. Could it get worse than that? Well, now I am convinced that TV has reached a new low after I found a game show that made me both laugh at the contestants and feel pity of the cheap and hollow TV products with which some audiences can satisfy their entertainment needs. The name of the game show was as pathetic as its contents: Are you smarter than a 5th grader?.

For people who hadn't had the unpleasant experience of watching that game (or people who live in countries where TV programs are thought for more educated audiences, as opposed to most countries in the Americas), I'll briefly explain what the game is about: A random, adult contestant has to answer 5th grade questions, accompanied by 5th grade children who are there to test their knowledge against the adult's. To make the long story short, the adult contestant can win up to US $1 million for answering all questions correctly.

As I am a strong believer that images can speak more than a thousand words, I found an excerpt of the show in Youtube and I'm embedding it here so you can have a little taste of the idiotic show for your amusement:

I'm not against people who want to be humiliated and shamed in public. I believe in free will, if their choice is to act ridiculously and they enjoy nationwide audiences jeering at them, I accept that. What I find very unacceptable is for TV corporations to reward those attitudes. Why on Earth should any average person, who attended at least high school, be awarded with 1 million dollars for hardly remembering basic knowledge on TV?

That is extremely painful if you think it this way: There are classic game shows like Jeopardy, in which the contestants are normally highly-educated individuals who are expected to demonstrate a vast knowledge about a variety of topics (and of course, the questions are tough). An average contestant of Jeopardy will get a few thousands of dollars in the game, whereas its counterpart in Are you smarter than a 5th grader? will get at least US$ 25,000 for answering about three questions that might be as simple as "what is the capital of the United States?". Needless to say, I can hardly remember contestants who have walked away from Jeopardy with prizes nearing the million dollars.

The decadence of TV is notorious, and it's fueled by the low standards that audiences have accepted from TV producers throughout the years. It is true that the broadcasting corporations are also businesses, and if the audience accepts from them garbage, they'll continue to produce garbage so the audience keeps consuming from them. It is just a cycle that will keep decaying until people redefine their entertainment quality standards.


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