Friday, June 08, 2007

And We Wonder Why the Rest of the World Hates Us

Last night, due to a high level of boredom, I found myself watching Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, hosted by the venerable Jeff Foxworthy. Sam had hidden the remote, but since I had been hearing so much about this show I decided to watch for a while instead of getting up to switch it off.

I found it to be the most depressing, baseless thirty minutes of television I have ever seen. Thank god I only started watching when it was half over, or I may have committed suicide. Or, more likely, homicide.

The premise of the show, if you are unfamiliar, is that grown people are quizzed on grade school level knowledge. There is also a pool of five talented youngsters who answer along with you. For example, last night there was a 10 year old boy who scored a 1350 on his SATs. The contestant can use each kid as a helper for two questions each. The questions are identified by the knowledge level, like 'First Grade Geography' or 'Fourth Grade Social Studies' and the contestant can choose from ten questions. Each right answer gets you more money. There are also three 'lifeline' type deals, but I didn't see all of them in action, so I'm not going to try and explain how they work.

The first contestant I watched last night was a high school history teacher. He was also the football coach, and had brought along half of his varsity football squad as his cheering section. As soon as I laid eyes on this guy, I knew he was going to fail miserably. We had a few teachers like him at my high school. He was young-ish in age, and even younger in emotional maturity. It's easy to imagine that he brought the football team because he thinks that they're all buddies, when in reality he's 15 years their senior and they're going to forget about him 2.3 minutes after graduation.

Since he is a history teacher, his first choice was a history question. 'Which one of the 13 original colonies was named after British royalty?' or something to that effect. His answer? New York. They went to the audience and asked one of his students if they though he was correct. The student said no, that the answer was NEW JERSEY! Three minutes into the show and I was writing on the floor and foaming at the mouth. Meanwhile, the 10 year-olds were all shaking their heads and laughing to themselves, because they all knew that the answer was GEORGIA! As in King. Fucking. George. This man spent the next fifteen minutes embarrassing himself on national television, and (hopefully) jeopardizing his job, all for nothing. He walked away empty handed.

The next contestant they featured was an honest-to-god rocket scientist. The geek in me had hope that he would come out there and wipe the stage with Mr. Foxworthy and his little smarty-pants sidekicks. But? He was eliminated after only two questions.

Now I don't consider myself to be any type of genius, but I knew the answer to all of the questions they asked during last night's show. There was one question about the great lakes that I was a little unsure of, but given the amount of time they give these yokels to think about their answers, I would have been able to reason through and come up with the correct answer.

What I don't know is how shows like this get made. Why we aren't outraged that our high school teachers don't possess the same level of knowledge as our grade-school kids? Why do we think it's hilarious to make a mockery of our failing education system? Why, in a time when the rest of the world thinks Americans are a bunch of drooling idiots being lead by the chief drooling idiot, do we add fuel to the fire by putting these epsilons on TV?

Luckily, I didn't have too much time to think about these things. I didn't want to miss a minute of So You Think You Can Dance?


Still have some time to kill? Check out my other posts here and here today!

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1 comment:

Becky said...

i have not watched this show but going by what i read have a point. why air a show that is mocking our education for the world to see? The teachers that are on the show and can't answer the questions..they should not be teaching our children. so sad.
i agree with you!