Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Prick n' Mix

In this world there are two types of gameshow. The first is knowledge-based and built primarily around the simple conceit of answering questions - Mastermind and The Weakest Link being two examples. The second kind requires a limited use of intelligence and in many examples actively discourages it. They are the anti-logic.

This article is about the latter.

There are of course many shows featuring egotistical tit-ends whose only value is their serving as a permanent reminder that when the sun finally engulfs our planet 5 billion years from now, it may not be such a bad thing. Golden Balls for instance is a sort of poker for idiots which gathers together four of the most misanthropic individuals imaginable to determine who is the least likeable person in the Western hemisphere; then rewards them with a cash prize. Meanwhile, the deadly serious marketing campaign for ITV’s The Cube is laughably anticlimactic when, following a montage of bullet-time effects all set to an orchestral theme, the final result consists of little more than a fat bloke playing swingball in a box. However, even these are minor offenders compared to a show responsible for more human rights violations than the People’s Republic of China and whose egoism, greed and sheer stupidity I am compelled to address. 22 boxes. A quarter of a million pounds. Just one question: Deal or No Deal?

"Greed is good." Deal or No Deal is actually based
on Oliver Stone's capitalist classic.
Whereas even the most serendipitous of quizzes entail a modest degree of intellect (or at the very least a basic aptitude for mathematical probability), Deal or No Deal is entirely random. This in itself wouldn’t be such an issue if those who participate were themselves aware of the fact, yet these cognitively challenged nitwits remain blissfully unaware, attempting instead to influence the final outcome with their own unique strategy. The order of their selections are often determined by the most absurd means, with systems based around anything ranging from prime numbers to the ages of Myra Hindley’s victims, which is admittedly an awful lot of effort to achieve a result that could just as easily have been obtained from a blind man’s lucky dip. In fact, so wafer thin is the central premise that one may just as well pick boxes 1-22 in numerical order, a process which would take all of five minutes and leave the remaining forty to be filled with scenes of gratuitous violence enacted on all those involved in this car crash of a show. Unfortunately, those drawn to this type of program are inevitably narcissists savouring their moment in the spotlight and as such they deliberate over that single question as if it were Sophie’s Choice (1982).

As is often the case on Deal or No Deal, this
contestant struggles to decide which is worse.

In actuality, it isn’t so much the game of chance that annoys me but rather the individuals who partake in it. At the start of each episode, the chosen contestant gives us a peak into their ‘tragic’ past which more often than not sounds like the blurb of a Marian Keyes novel. Once the obligatory photographs of dead relatives are out of the way, a brief explanation is required as to how this simpleton will attempt to beat the banker. The redundancy of constructing a plan in order to evade mere fluke is usually attributable to said moron’s belief in fate/mind-reading/the supernatural/wizards/giants and anything else one may find in the Bible or an episode of Colin Fry. Meanwhile the psychic clings doggedly to his or her belief in extra-sensory abilities right up until the very end, even daring to claim that upon picking the wrong box they just knew that was going to happen. Oh really? Then you should have had the foresight to stay at home and do something more productive with your powers; like invite possession by a demon with a more interesting personality.

In an ideal world...

The whole thing is so disgustingly sycophantic. Should the opener of the box reveal a low amount, the player will offer their thanks as if they were somehow responsible for the result. If it’s a high number, attempts are made to boost morale through rapturous applause like this will influence the contents pre-determinately placed there an hour before by a runner named Kev. Not that the audience is much better, cheering on these vainglorious fuckwads as they saunter round the room, lapping up attention and contemplating the contents of each box with all the philosophical profundity of a Schrödinger experiment. It isn’t so much a quiz as a pantomime, replete with a villain in the form of the nefarious banker who in all fairness really isn’t that bad – I can say with absolute confidence that at no point in my local Santander have I ever been offered money in return for unfastening brightly coloured containers.

Currently hosting the
Serbian version.

The final third of the show is arguably the most horrific thing you’re ever likely to experience on daytime TV. Half of all those present are reduced to tears over what is essentially a glorified version of Minesweeper and if the player accepts an early offer, he or she continues through the game to reveal what could have been. It’s a testament to how greedy our society has become when £1,000 can be seen as a disappointment; in one instance, Noel Edmonds actually called a woman brave for her optimism when it was discovered that, had she persevered through to the end, the prize would have been considerably  more substantial than the trifling twenty grand she actually received. No, that isn’t brave; bravery is risking your life to save others. In fact, the next time one of these misguided dipsticks allows their gluttony to take precedence over rational thinking, their only reward should be a bullet-proof vest and a one way plane ticket to Afghanistan. On second thoughts, forget the vest.

No comments:

Post a Comment