Who is Louis Bayard? | Salon Books
Thanks to Bob Bopp for this look into the world of “Jeapordy”.
In a country where half of all households don’t buy books, why should this show continue to thrive? I think the secret lies in its original design. Like its sibling show, “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy” is crafted to make viewers at home feel smarter than the contestants on the tube. Start with the game’s rules, which require players to hold off on answering until Trebek has finished reading the question. (Ring in too early, you’re blocked out for a precious half-second.) Viewers at home are under no such obligation. If they know the answers, they can shout them out well before their counterparts on the screen, and because they’re not competing with anyone, they can cumulatively answer more questions than anyone on the show (except possibly Jennings). Watching “Jeopardy” confers, on a certain class of geek, a feeling of mastery. In our couch-potato hubris, we believe that, given a chance, we can sweep category after category, stunning our opponents into silence.
It’s an entirely American contradiction. A show that celebrates the intellect (“You don’t have to eat bugs here,” one of the contestant coordinators reassured us) really comes down to speed and muscular coordination. Brain to thumb to mouth.