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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 10:32 GMT
Are TV quiz shows dumb?
Britain's first quiz-show millionaire was created this week when a housewife from London walked away with the big prize on the hit TV show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire".
The show's format - with contestants doubling their prize money every time they get a correct answer - has become a worldwide hit. It has been licensed in 80 countries and is already on air in 37 of them.
Is this the globalisation of dumbing-down? Are they what people want to watch? Are TV quiz shows in your country crowding out better things? How would you spend a million pounds?
I have two young children and they both enjoy watching and learning from quiz shows on TV, as do my wife and I. The people who say the shows are boring and should be banned must have an IQ of 50 or 500! One end will not be able to answer or learn from the show while the "Intelligent" end can answer the questions so easily it makes them tired, poor things! Have these people never heard of the ON/OFF switch?
My main objection is that the really difficult quizzes such as, University Challenge, Mastermind or Krypton Factor, only gain the winner an old glass bowl or some ornament while the facile competitions with questions on the level of "who won World War Two?" are rewarded with large amounts of cash or high value prizes.
Michael Carr, Nürnberg, Germany
Quiz programmes are a waste of licence payers' money. Unfortunately I seem to be in a minority on this one so if the mass who want to watch this are happy, then I'll just exercise my right of choice and not watch them. If we all did this then they wouldn't get made!
If Communism had had television in general, not to mention game shows and sitcoms, to consider, religion might not have been their namesake for the opiate of the masses.
This kind of programming has invaded my home country (Canada) as well as the country in which I spend the winter. It is another version of Marie Antoinette's "Let Them Eat Cake" - indeed it IS the "dumbing down" mentioned; what saddens me, is that so many people find it riveting!
I think some quiz shows distort the value of money. For example, Ann Robinson on The Weakest Link can often be heard to say "You have earned a PATHETIC 500 pounds." Some of us would be rather excited to earn that much in a week, Ms Robinson, let alone in half an hour on a TV quiz!
Such programmes emphasise the way in which success in life can be a matter of chance rather than hard work and application, and as such they can be rather depressing. I particularly don't like the idea of making entertainment out of people's desperateness for money - I haven't seen the student debt quiz, but it sounds quite grim.
I don't particularly enjoy these programmes but if some people enjoy them then great. I don't particularly think trainspotting is a worthwhile endeavour but it keeps some people happy¿go forth and do what you enjoy for life is too short to be miserable.
I see little difference between these shows and Mastermind. The ability to retain fairly useless pieces of information is not really of much practical value. I guess in time the genre will need to be revised as people lose interest.
However, it is obviously 'good' entertainment and perhaps as good as soaps and better than Jerry Springer-type shows.
Why do people have to complain about shows, especially quiz shows, that they don't like? Sure, the amount of them in the US, etc may be excessive, but I think here in the UK it's about right. It also seems strange to me that people find some of these shows an insult to their intelligence, but they somehow don't know how to work their remote control. It does have an on/off switch, you know.
Quiz shows that demand a modicum of intelligence are OK, I suppose - stuff like Mastermind - but nowadays we get lowest common denominator TV for a lowest common denominator audience...
Naveen Yalamanchi, USA (from India)
It appears a lot of people cannot tell the difference between quality quiz programmes such as University Challenge and 15-to-1, and game shows. In the first category, people compete purely for the prestige of winning and stretching their knowledge regardless of the standard of prizes on offer. In the second category, it is simply the chance to win large amounts of money or other major prizes that attracts contestants. There is a distinct difference between the two categories.
Terry, Derby, UK
Shows promising large sums of money promote materialism, and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. I feel that there should be more educational game shows that actually help people, instead of promoting extreme wealth.
Yes, yes, yes, they are silly, stupid, nonsense and unbearable. Nothing good about them.
They are quite silly and anyone who actually
sits down day after day and watches them must
have a very pathetic life.
I can't stand these sorts of
programmes, in my view they are
nether entertaining or
educational. I can only assume
someone out there enjoys them.
Mark Schuller, Australia
What has always bothered me about these quiz shows is that with few exceptions, they only test pop culture savvy. This is done for two reasons: to attract and captivate a large audience and to suggest that having access to this kind of information is not only exciting, but useful.This is just another mind-numbing cultural cancer America has blessed the world with. If you can't ban them, and I doubt that you can, then at least make the questions so terribly difficult that no one ever walks away with more than a bruised ego and a couple of hundred pounds.
As an American expat who lived in the UK for 8 years, I can say it was definitely a sign that the Americanisation of England had indeed taken root. Now I live in the states. This place is unbelievable. The American public could not even fathom a show like Question Time, let alone one minute with Jeremy Paxman. You may not approve of these shows either, but at least they usually present their points of view intelligently.
You all should be thanking your lucky stars, or more likely, take it while you can. While we can't elect a president, somehow Hollywood produces mind rot for the world.
The UAE is one of the most successful countries in the Middle East. The UAE does not have any quiz-shows. I believe there is a connection there somewhere.
Yes, they are dumb. The pub-bore questions are silly and the fake tension is unbearable. Ban them!
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20 Nov 00 | Entertainment
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22 Nov 00 | Entertainment
The Millionaires' club
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